Dealing with insurance company adjusters is a normal, but intimidating, part of making an insurance claim. It is quite common for people to feel the home insurance adjuster's estimate is too low. What can you do to ensure you secure the maximum compensation possible under your insurance policy contract?
Be prepared. Understand the steps of the process to properly handle dealing with the company insurance claims adjuster and negotiating your insurance claim.
When You Discover The Damage
In the event that your home is damaged, do you know you have the responsibility as a homeowner to prevent further damage? Should you call your insurance company or a contractor first?
The Home Insurance Adjuster
The home insurance adjuster may also be called an analyst, representative, or some other title. The adjuster is a paid employee or independent contractor for the insurance company. They work for the insurance company, not for you. The adjuster's goal is the protect the insurance company from a financial standpoint.
They want to evaluate your claim and determine how much money the insurance company is required to pay as quickly as possible, for the least money possible.
Negotiating With a Home Insurance Adjuster
When you buy a home insurance policy you are entering into a mutual contract. This agreement means the insurance company must legally cover certain types of damage.
If the initial payout offer seems low, you certainly do not have to accept the offer and can choose to negotiate. You can ask for further justification of the low amount; ask them to itemize the damages and provide the facts behind their numbers.
The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) regulates the insurance industry in the State of Texas and works to protect consumers and laws regarding insurance are executed. According to Section 29 of the TDI Consumer Bill of Rights:
"You have the right to reject a settlement amount, including any unfair valuation offered by the insurance company. If you reject a settlement offer your options include continuing to negotiate with the insurer or pursuing legal remedies, such as mediation. arbitration, or filing a Iawsuit."
If you feel you're being treated unfairly, you can also file a complaint on the TDI website.
If the company is refusing to cover damages that are in your policy, intentionally stalling, or failing to thoroughly investigate your claim you might choose to hire a private insurance adjuster or an attorney to represent you. (See more below)
Tips for Negotiating
Don't settle your claim too quickly.
What you say can hurt you. Be careful what you say, especially in a recorded statement.
Avoid recorded statements.
Ask them to itemize the damages and provide information behind their numbers.
Avoid signing any documents until you have reviewed and fully understand everything it contains.
Get your settlement in writing; an adjuster might promise one thing during negotiations, then go back to a previous offer in the final settlement.
According to section 34 of the TDI Consumer Bill of Rights, you do not have to provide federal income tax records and you do have to provide any information that does not relate to your claim.
Consider hiring a public adjuster or an attorney if negotiations are stalled or you believe your insurance company is not acting in good faith.
Consider Hiring a Public Adjuster
If you are concerned about the time it takes to go through the insurance claim process, handling the negotiating process after a payout offer seems unreasonably low, or want to achieve the maximum possible settlement, you may want to hire a public adjuster.
Public adjusters are insurance professionals who represent you in the claim process - similar to how the insurance company's adjuster represents and works for them. A public adjuster’s goal is to assess your property damage, analyze your specific insurance policy, and then negotiate with your insurance company to reach a fair settlement.
Some tasks of a public adjuster include:
Quantifying the damages and monetary value of your claim.
Preparing detailed estimates of the needed repairs.
Help the policy owner to make and present the claim.
Negotiate with the insurance company on the owner's behalf.
When to Hire an Attorney
Typically, you should hire a public adjuster before hiring an attorney. A public adjuster can help you through the early stages of your insurance claim and fight for higher compensation to ensure you get the maximum possible compensation.
However, if you've reached a standstill in coverage and payment negotiations or the company is completely denying your claim and you want to sue, then you may want to seek the help of an attorney. They will then handle all communications with the insurance company.
Negotiating your insurance claim may be daunting, but preparation and knowledge will help you get the best payoff possible.
Selz Contracting will unapologetically not be the lowest bid you receive. What you will get is a fair price, proper documentation/photographs that are crucial for insurance claims, expert construction quality that adheres to professional practices, and peace of mind that the job is done right.
The team at Selz Contracting is here to help with any questions you may about your insurance claim, roofing, or other contracting needs in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Check out OUR PROMISE TO YOU.