Most of us might not think about public adjusters – or we try not to because to do that might mean that our lives have been upended.
Life changes directions in an instant. One minute you are rushing around the house. Your child’s got school, you’ve got a meeting at work – until you don’t because the next minute you are on the floor screaming with a broken femur and your spouse is calling 911.
What began as a typical Wednesday turned into an 8-week nursing home stay disguised as rehab. Who’s going to pay for that? Do you have insurance? And how much are they willing to pay? How many days will they allow you to stay at that rehab center?
Or picture this. You may be from the south, but due to your husband’s promotion, you’ve landed in the north – in Pennsylvania. The house hunt is over, the boxes are unpacked, and you’re in the middle of cooking dinner when Hurricane Agnes comes calling.
Well, maybe not Agnes, because she arrived in 1972, and although she’s long gone, Agnes left her calling card. Over 25,000 businesses and homes were ravaged by floodwaters, in one county alone. So while one mean and wicked visitor moved out, there could be others moving in.
Are you prepared?
Let’s say you’ve done your homework and you’re protected. After all, that’s the purpose of insurance. If the house is damaged – or worse, destroyed – at least insurance will help you get back on your feet.
Heaven forbid your life be toppled by a natural disaster or an unforeseen accident. Maybe you’ve got your bases covered for that blizzard, which does happen in the lovely Keystone state. In January of 2016, there was a whopping 19.4 inches of white stuff. Deaths, power outages, hypothermia. Destruction.
Will you have a home in the aftermath? Will you have your life? Will you have your family? Does your insurance cover the losses? So many questions, and all being asked when you are probably grieving.
It’s time to fill out the papers and contact the insurance company. Do you understand the documents? This is no time for guesswork.
For some reason, insurance companies are not always forthcoming with providing the best settlement.
Here’s the rub: you are not at your best when faced with tragedy. Perhaps this is a good time to explain that it’s your adjuster who determines the extent of the insurance company’s liability.
It is to everyone’s advantage that the application and information be completed in a timely manner, and this includes reviewing police reports, medical treatment records, medical bills, and reviewing property damage and estimates. Your public adjuster acts as your advocate and corresponds with other professionals on your behalf.
Should you choose to hire a public adjuster, here are a few tips that can help:
Hire a Professional
Insurance is intricate, so make sure you hire a trained professional who can interpret and explain the policy, and cut through the red tape.
Since public adjusters in Pennsylvania are required to be licensed by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department, it makes sense to hire someone who knows what he or she is doing.
Inventory Your Possessions
If you haven’t done so, inventory your possessions as soon as possible.
This may not be helpful with filing a claim for a personal injury, but it
might make a monumental difference if your home was destroyed, and it’s a
big piece of the puzzle in preparing your statement of loss.
There’s a difference in the value of possessions even though they are identified by the same name. For instance, a chair from Walmart would most likely be priced differently than a chair from Macy’s. Naturally, things will depreciate in value; however, there could be a wide difference between a lamp purchased at Big Lots and one that belonged to your great-grandfather who once lived in the Governor’s mansion.
Next, record the contents including item description, receipt of sale, origin, certificate of authenticity (if applicable), and replacement estimate, and keep the inventory in a safe deposit box. A copy of your records should also be given to your insurance company as well as notarized.
Take pictures and videotape the contents of your home.
Ask for Recommendations
All the recommendations in the world are of no use to you if you don’t ask a trusted source.
Suppose you are going to hire a public adjuster, but have no idea who. You can check the adjuster’s personal references, but that’s only going to get you so far. Anyone can get a glowing recommendation from their cousin. It changes the game when you ask someone whose opinion you value.
Perhaps you know someone who had a recent flood, fire, or wind damage. Or maybe it was a burglary. Who would they recommend and why? Was the public adjuster straightforward? Good at interpretation? A good listener? All are soft skills that are important to this type of profession.
You might want to ask how the public adjuster conducted business. How professional was this person? What would lead your trusted source to recommend him or her? Did the adjuster get some skin in the game? Did your source believe they got the highest settlement possible?
Remember, a good public adjuster will work hard on your behalf because they benefit when you benefit, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask the adjuster for references, and check out his or her track record.
Out-of-pocket expenses can be crippling. How will you get your life back? Waiting until after disaster strikes is too late. Give us a call today so we can help you get prepared. It is up to you to help your public adjuster help you.