CLAIMS ADJUSTMENT QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q: Will My Insurance Company Pay For All The Damage From The Fire Or Other Disaster Insurance Related Claim?
A: This depends on the terms of the insurance policy. It also depends on your expertise or the expertise of your representative, not that of the insurance company’s adjuster. Many insurance policies pay more than the amount shown on the declaration page. The qualified experts at Harris Claims Services will determine everything to which you are entitled.
Q: How Is The Actual Loss And Money Due To Me Determined?
A: Among other things we begin by:
1. Taking a physical inventory of all personal property destroyed &
2. Preparing an on the site field scope of the damage to the building
These are both then entered into a computer program which renders a detailed estimate based on current market prices. For example, on the building claim, the prices for labor and materials are calculated on those based in the Chicagoland area NOT THE NATIONAL AVERAGE, which is less. Thereafter, we review your policy of insurance to make sure all provisions in your policy are properly fulfilled. This involves numerous steps of which you may know little or nothing, but can make a significant difference in the final settlement and payment to you. These estimates or scopes of damage as they are called in the industry are then fully reviewed with you and upon your approval forwarded to the insurance company as a demand for payment and settlement of your respective claims.
Q: What Special Help Can The State Licensed Insurance Adjuster At Harris Claims Services Give Me With Technical Questions?
A: We are the experts to turn to when such matters arise. We are concerned only with your interests. Because of our broad experience and specialized knowledge, we prepare your claims seeking to obtain monies to the fullest extent. It is up to you to prove your loss. There may be many questions and problems as to how the policy provisions can be applied in different circumstances. That is where we come in.
Q: Are The Public Insurance Claims Adjusters At Harris Claims Services Trained Professionals?
A: Yes. We are Licensed, Bonded and Tested by the Illinois Department of Insurance. Our profession is also guided and enforced under the statures of the State of Illinois. When you employ us you may do so with confidence that your claims will be negotiated, prepared and settled by fully qualified professionals.
Q: Will A Public Insurance Adjuster At Harris Claims Services Help Me Receive A More Prompt And Satisfactory Settlement?
A: Yes. They waste no time in complying with the policy requirements to obtain and evaluate the facts and prepare the claim. The alert, knowledgeable and prompt service they render often preserves evidence that may otherwise be overlooked or destroyed. The more thoroughly and completely your claim is compiled and prepared, the faster your pro public insurance adjuster can accomplish an equitable and proper settlement in your best interest.
Once a policy holder has witnessed the skill and knowledge of the accredited public insurance adjuster, he or she rarely will attempt to settle a claim without the benefit of their specialized assistance. The pro public insurance adjuster’s most frequent source of new clients comes from the recommendations of those they have previously served.
You must always remember that the policy holder is in control of the claim. It is your responsibility to prepare, support, and negotiate the claim. But ultimately both you and your insurance company must agree. This is where we, as professionals, can make a difference for you.
Q: What Organizations Does Harris Claims Services Belong To?
A: We are members in good standing with the Better Business Bureau of Chicago, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Midwest Public Insurance Adjusters, to name a few.
Q: Do Public Insurance Adjusters Take Care Of Claims Other Than Fire?
A: Yes. They will assist you in any claims you may have due to windstorm, explosion, and any other insured losses that are sustained (inland marine, business interruption, rental income, improvements and betterments, commission and profit, reporting forms, additional expense, etc.
Q: Do They Sell Insurance Or Act As Insurance Agents?
A: No. If they were to do so, they would become a representative of the insurance company and they would no longer represent you exclusively and independently.
Q: If I Have A Problem Or A Complaint Concerning A Claims Adjuster Or An Insurance Company, What Should I Do?
A: State Insurance Departments license insurance companies, brokers, agents and public adjusters to operate in their state. If you feel that one of these licensees has failed to act in accordance with your contract or state insurance law and regulation, we urge you to contact your state insurance department in writing, setting forth the nature of your complaint.
Q: What If I Have A Question About Insurance Coverage Or The Insurance Industry?
A: State insurance departments are also the appropriate place to contact for information about licensees, insurance law and regulation.
Q: Can I Prepare The Insurance Claims?
A: Certainly. But it may not be in your best interest to do so. Home and business owners are usually not completely familiar with the terms and conditions of their insurance policies or with their rights and obligations in the event of a loss. If you’ve never handled a claim, there is a substantial risk of having to learn from your own mistakes.
Q: Doesn’t The Insurance Company Have To Prepare My Claim?
A: Sometimes loss victims turn to the insurance company’s adjusters for guidance, but remember, they work for the insurance company not you. Once the preliminaries are over, you are ultimately responsible for measuring your claim. A policy review should take place and a claim preparation strategy formulated. You should know your duties and responsibilities. But the real answer to this question is whether or not you are comfortable negotiating with the insurance company adjuster and do you have the expertise to evaluate the validity of their advice? Do you have the time? Might your time be better used elsewhere? Are you willing to accept the insurance company’s work and belief of the claims work as accurate and fair? Remember, the claims adjuster who represents your insurance company is employed by the insurance company and, as in many industries, must constantly prove their worth to the employer. It is common for professionals to disagree on the extent and monies due under a claim. Working for you, HARRIS CLAIMS SERVICES seeks to MAXIMIZE the claims for your benefit.
Q: What If The Insurance Company Brings In A Contractor To Prepare The Damage Estimate And Recommends Them To Do The Actual Work? Can’t I Just Use Their Estimate?
A: You can, but there is a great deal of subjectivity in defining the scope of damages. The question in this situation is who is the contractor going to try to keep happy and serve, the insurance company who gives him repeat business and who is responsible for his livelihood or the homeowner for whom he will do one job? While a contractor may be able to estimate the cost to rebuild, there may be many decisions regarding simply repainting repair vs. total replacement that will affect the property claim. Keep in mind that the measurement of the physical damage and the extent to which such should be completely removed and replaced, is only one aspect of the claim. Again, you can choose to rely upon the contractor’s estimate of the building damage, but remember that the contractor is hired by the insurance company to protect them from over–paying. In order to protect your interests you need an expert who works for you, measuring, calculating and assembling a comprehensive and fully integrated claims package. That is why we only serve you, the home or business owner.
Q: Does Harris Claims Services Adjust Claims For Business Owners Also?
A: As professional loss consultants, we can shoulder partial or full responsibility for preparing a claim at a time of great stress and turmoil for you and your family. We ease the burden of recovering from a disaster by handling any phase of the preparation and presentation of the claim, allowing the company’s management to devote full attention to the ongoing operation of its business.
Q: Why Am I Having A Hard Time Understanding The Clauses And Language Of The Insurance Policy? Are They All Complicated?
A: You are not alone! The reality is that most property owners are not completely familiar with the terms and conditions of their insurance policies or with their rights and obligations in the event of a loss. A comprehensive understanding of the language and endorsements in a policy, and how to respond following a loss, can only be gained through knowledge and experience on a daily basis. The Chicago Claims Adjusters at Harris Claims Services are tested on such and have that experience.
Q: Will My Recovery Make Up The Cost Of Your Fees?
A: Yes. How much is it worth to have expert advice at the beginning of a claim? What is it worth to avoid unnecessary mistakes that could cost both time and money? The fee for pro adjuster consultants usually represents a small percentage of the claim settlement and is generally offset by a better settlement than you would be able to obtain without assistance.
Q: Doesn’t The Insurance Policy Guarantee That I Will Receive A Fair Settlement In A Timely Fashion?
A: After you have suffered a loss, the insurance company will eventually send out a claims adjuster to protect its interests not yours. Whether or not you receive a fair and timely settlement will be determined on how you proceed. The insurance policy sets forth the requirements of each side’s obligation. Insurance companies are obligated to pay. However, it is ultimately the responsibility of the insured (property owner) to present documentation supporting the claim and therefore receive a “fair” and “timely” settlement. It is not the responsibility of the insurance company to prepare or prove the claim. The policy holder must document, prepare, support and present the claim to the insurance company. This is where Harris Claims Services as your expert Public Insurance Adjusters play a vital role.
Q: Do I Need To Hire An Attorney?
A: Not in the usual loss situation. Pro Public Insurance Adjusters at Harris Claims Services are tested and bonded by the Illinois Department of Insurance. Moreover, two of the staff members are also licensed practicing attorneys who are available for consultation should the need arise. No other company in our industry in the Chicagoland area has attorneys on staff for the benefit of their clients.
Q: What Should I Do If I Have A Disaster?
A: The following is a list of several guidelines. Remember that each situation is unique. Please consider calling upon us for free, no–obligation consultation. The information you receive is invaluable whether you decide to retain us or go at it on your own:
- Mitigate your loss and protect your property from further damage
- Move quickly to protect property such as books, manuscripts, etc.
- Control access to the premises
- Establish a claim management team, with one spokesperson
- Have an initial policy analysis & claim strategy prepared and make sure all team members understand it
- Set up a post–loss plan to protect your operations and market and notify your customers, banks and suppliers
- Prepare a public relations program to inform all stakeholders and the general public
- Know the players, including who the adjusting representatives are
- Know your brokers role
- Understand your duties and requirements
- Document your activities in a log
- Take a proactive position–you must make a claim
- Make the decisions that are best for the survival of your organization
- Integrate claim management with the post–loss operations
- Concentrate on maintaining your operations and not on preparing claim details, leave that to the experts
- Hire your own experts
- Don’t rely solely on your historical record, secure replacement estimates
- Coordinate the property, business interruption and extra–expense claims
- Understand that your claim will have to be verified
- Understand the negotiation process
Q: What Are Some Requirements According To The Insurance Policy?
A: Insurance companies require policy holders to prepare an inventory of damaged property showing quantity, description, actual cash value and amount of loss, then justify that inventory. The insurance company will pay the lesser of the following three amounts:
1. The limit of liability under this policy applying to the building, or
2. The replacement cost of the damaged part of the building for equivalent construction and use on the same premises, or
3. The amount actually and necessarily spent to repair or replace the damaged building
The insurance companies require the policyholder to adhere to strict obligations. You, as the insured, must protect property from further damage. Failing to do so will put the amount of your claim into serious question. Insurance companies require a signed “proof of loss” within 60 days of their request for it. Claimants must have a detailed inventory of all damaged personal property. Insurance companies require accurate records of all repair expenses. All repair expenses must be considered both reasonable and necessary. It is not the responsibility of the insurance company to disprove that an item was damaged or lost–it is up to you to justify the loss.
Q: How Much Do We Charge For Phase One, The Adjusting Service?
A: We charge a small percentage of the insurance company’s settlement with you. Usually between 7% and 10%. This fee is waived if we are allowed to repair the building which is explained in Phase Two.
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