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 public adjusters, with background experiance in the law, adjusting, and construction 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. Our data basis are updated every few months to stay current. Thereafter, we review your policy of insurance to make sure all provisions in your policy are properly fulfilled. Our founder Jason Harris is a Public Adjuster and Attorney and therefore has the unique experience of understanding all the terms of your policy of insurance. 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. U the estimates are than forwarded to the insurance company as a demand for payment and settlement of your respective claims.
Q: What Special Help Can The State Licensed Public Adjuster a t 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 of our public adjusters and suppport staff we have the knowledge to prepare your claims to seek the largest possible settlment. Remember it is up to you to prove your loss under the terms of the policy. 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.We understand what damages are covered under what portions of your policy. We understand code endorsements and how they are applied to the insurance policy.
Q: Are The Public 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: Does the public adjusters act of Illinois require the owners to be licensed by the State of Illinois?
A: Yes. This is a strong concern. In 2008 or there about the Public Adjuster Act to prevent issues of abuse and possible fraud amended the public adjuster’ act to require that all owners of the Public Adjusting Company to be licnesed. By requiring such the State of Illinois would then have the background checks and information on the owners. The president of Harris Claims Services, Jason Harris is a licensed public adjuster and is also a practicing attorney. Unlike other companies Harris Claims Services informs you up front who the owner is. Why is this important? Other companies do not comply with the Public Adjusters Act of Illinois. The act requires that the owners operating the company be licensed for obvious reasons. Some companies owners have been charged with crimes and other matters and therefore the State of Illinois will not issue them a public adjusters license. So these companies name a secretary as th owner and decieve the general public. Avoid these companies at all costs.
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 public insurance adjuster can accomplish a full, complete and proper settlement. .
Once a policy holder has witnessed the skill and knowledge of the accredited public insurance adjuster, he or she rarely will attempt to settle the claim on their own. . The public 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, the Association of Midwest Public Insurance Adjusters, and the Illinois Public Adjusters Association which was started by our President Jason Harris.
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 insurance losses They also handle commercial and business claims. These are more complicated and require more knowledge and skill.
Q: Do They Sell Insurance Or Act As Insurance Agents?
A: No. If we did we would become a representative of the insurance company and 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: The State of Illinois makes sure that professionals are licensed. These include but are not limited to insurance companies, brokers, agents and public adjusters. If you feel that one of these professionals has failed to act properly, has violated your contract with them, or you have simply found out that you were defrauded into signing a contract you should contact your States department of insurance. See our blog on that subject matter. We urge you to contact your state insurance department in writing, setting forth the nature of your complaint. Of course you can contact us to review what has occurred and give you further guidance.
Q: What If I Have A Question About Insurance Coverage Or The Insurance Industry?
A: You can contact the Ilinois Department of insruance or your State’s insurance departments, (depending on which state you are in) . There are the best place to start for information about the statuts of a public adjusters licnese, who owns the company and how they operate. .
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 strong possibility that you will make a mistake. At a minimum you should speak with Harris Claims Services to review your situation. There is no obligation. .
Q: Doesn’t The Insurance Company Have To Prepare My Claim?
A: Yes and no. Your insurance policy is a contract. While often the property owenrs turn to the insurance company’s adjusters for guidance, one must remember they work for the insurance company and not the property owners. . Once the introductions and preliminaries are over, you the property owner are ultimately responsible for measuring and proving your claim. A policy review should take place and a claim preparation strategy made. . You should know your duties and responsibilities under the policy. Failure to do so could result in your claim being partially or fully denied.
The real answer to this question is are comfortable negotiating with the insurance company adjuster?Do you have the expertise to evaluate and settle the claim. Do you know how to rebute and dispute the insurance company adjuter’s estimate or low nubmers? Do you have the time? Might your time be better used elsewhere? Are you willing to accept the insurance company’s work. Do you have the knowledge to understand and decide on how to hire a contractor? 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. We have the knowledge, the power and leverage to get the job done.
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 that would be a big mistake. There is clearly and historically shown to be a great deal of subjectivity when it comes to the extent of the damages and the pricing. 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. The answer is obvious, the contractors are loyal to the ones who butter their bread, the insurance company. There are always decisions regarding issues of repainting repair vs. total replacement. Keep in mind that the measurement of the physical damage and the extent to which such should be completely is only one aspect of the claim. Again, you can choose to rely upon the insurance companies contractor’s but remember that 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 complete and full 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, as Public Adjusters, we handle all types of claims for not just home owners but also business owners. We ease the burden of recovering from a disaster by handling the claim while you as the business owner continue to focus on your company’s management, success and ongoing operations. .
Q: Why Am I Having A Hard Time Understanding The Clauses And Language Of The Insurance Policy? Are They All this Complicated?
A: You are not alone! The reality is that most property owners are not familiar with the terms and conditions of their insurance policies or with their rights and obligations. The fact is no one reads their insurance policy until they suffer of fire. Even then they do not. The policy is an extremely complicated contract. 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. Many attorneys do not understand policies of insurance and how they are applied. Case law generated by lawsuits can affect how the language of a policy is interpreted. The Chicago Public Adjusters at Harris Claims Services are tested on such and have that experience. Remember our founder Jason Harris is not only a public adjuster but also an attorney. Understand that while you would not be hiring Harris Claims Services of Jason Harris as an attorney, the experience and knowledge is still used to your benefit. Again, knowledge is power.
Q: Will My Recovery Make Up The Cost Of Your Fees?
A: Yes. How much is it worth to have expert informing you and guiding you at the beginning of a claim? What is it worth to avoid unnecessary mistakes that could cost both time and money? The stress level is said to be so hight that once one hires a public adjuster they feel the weight lifted off their shoulders. The fee for our public adjusting services usually represents a small percentage of the total claim settlement which is generally offset by a the larger settlement that is obtained by using our services.
Q: Doesn’t The Insurance Policy Guarantee That I Will Receive A Fair Settlement In A Timely Fashion?
A: No, your policy is not a guarantee it is a contract with each side having duties and responsibilities. After you have suffered a loss, the insurance company will send out a company adjuster who is there to protect the insurance company, not you. Whether or not you receive a fair and timely settlement is e 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 the responsibility of the insured (property owner) to present documentation supporting the claim and prove the claim. Again, as set forth in the policy language 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, as your Public Adjusters plays a vital role. A role where we are only obligated to you the property or business owner.
Q: Do I Need To Hire An Attorney?
A: Not in the usual loss situation. 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 Chicago area has attorneys on staff for the benefit of their clients. We of course always recommend you consult with an attorney but for the most part attorneys do not enter a burnt up building. Interestingly, attorneys refer client to Harris Claims Services with confidence knowing we are properly experienced to handle these situations. We do believe Attorneys are necessary when there is an issue of denial or partial denial of a claim and we work with attorneys in that situation in preparing the damages portion of the lawsuit while the attorneys handle the litigation.
Q: What Should I Do If I Have A insurance loss like a fire, flood or wind damage?
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 of my 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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