Fire Claims Help from the Public Adjusters at Harris Claims Services
Fire claims help is an interesting set of words. What and who is there to help after a fire? Public adjusters and contractors or just contractors – Illinois public adjusters. Are Illinois public adjusters trustworthy? Are public adjusters also fire repair contractors? Are there different levels of public adjusters in Illinois? The answer is yes to all of the above.
If you’ve had a fire there is no doubt that you have been approached by many people claiming they can help. Some claiming to be qualified public adjusters. Some in the middle of the night, this is illegal and addressed in another blog. Others who are simply contractors claiming they can settle your fire loss and restore your personal property. One of the most important things you need to know is who can and cannot offer to help you with you claims, who can and has not only the legal credentials but also the knowledge to adjust, negotiate and settle your claim.
Fire Damage Adjusters And Losses
General contractors and fire damage adjusters, or public adjusters, provide vastly different services. Some are licensed and are bonded and tested. Each has different credentials and each is trained differently with different skill sets. Having your fire loss or business loss mishandled by one who is not licensed and is not qualified will cause you heart ache and will certainly complicate and reduce you fire claim settlement. Such will also slow up the process and jeopardize your claim and the final payout of monies.
A fire damage adjuster often referred to as a public adjuster, and Illinois Public Insurance Adjuster, represents the claimant, the insured, you the property owner. The Public Adjuster does not work for the insurance company. Illinois Public Adjusters provide help and are obligated to the property owner. They help the fire damage victims, the insureds by preparing and settling the claim. Your Public Insurance Adjuster responsibility is to prepare the claim package by documenting, estimating damages and negotiating the fire claim settlement with the insurance company. In most states these insurance claim adjusters cannot simultaneously work for or be affiliated with a restoration company or a general contractor during the course of the claim. However in Illinois such is not the case and most Public Adjusters in Illinois are also general contractors for fire losses.
In Illinois the decision on how and who to use can be complicated, but can also be of great value. If you do your homework and chose someone with the proper background, has a clear history of settling claims and has the knowledge and power to settle the claims first, and is also a qualified respected General Contractor of fire damage losses you are in good shape. But you need to educated yourself and understand there are different levels of Public Adjusters and General Contractors of fire damage.
Illinois Public Adjusters And Restoration
In Illinois the Public Adjusters, if you chose to use them as a General Contractor after the claim is settled, waive the adjusting fee. The important factor when choosing such a company is to determine that they are first and foremost capable of handling, negotiating and settling your claim. You do not want to hire someone who is simply a general contractor first and later took the public adjuster exam and now refers to themselves a Public Adjuster. Many roofers in the past five years have done exactly that. That might be ok for a hail $5,000 or $10,000 roofing claim but it is not for a fire claim. While they may be great roofers they are terrible negotiators, have no experience and cannot adequately settle a large fire claim.
Then there are those that are not Public Adjusters, but are contractors or commonly known as restoration companies. They too will appear at your door step. While they appear at your door step claiming they can help you must understand that they are NOT authorized to negotiate and settle claims. The Public Adjusters Act of Illinois only allows Public Adjusters to negotiate insurance claims. Again these door to door salesmen usual call themselves some type of disaster Restoration Company. Not only do they want to perform the fire repairs they want to take all you’re smoked up belongings and clean them. Public Adjusters want to “total” them out to get you paid for new ones. (this subject will be addressed in another blog article by Harris Claims Services later).
These types of restoration contractors are not permitted by law to negotiate any types of property insurance claims. Sometimes they are referred to you by the insurance company. Why? To save the insurance company money. These Restoration Companies may not negotiate flood, hail and most importantly fire damage. These fire damage chasing contractors do not have the necessary training, education and expertise to do so. Insurance claims preparation, negotiation and adjusting is a highly specialized industry. It requires very specific and concentrated training. Most importantly it requires testing, a bond and license issued by the State of Illinois. In fact some of the door to door fire restoration contractors are former Public Adjusters who had their public adjuster license taken away by the State for improper practices. Some have a criminal history and bad track record.
Remember the Insurance policy requires and states that it is the responsibility of the home owner, the claimant, the insured to prove and establish the specific damages, the amount of the damages and comply with the terms of the policy. Insurance policies actual set forth your obligations. Property owners must understand that going through the claim process without professional help can be stressful, frustrating and destructive. Public Adjusters, who are qualified, understand this. Only qualified Public Adjusters should be considered and hired.
So Who Should We Hire For Our Fire Claims Help?
The general contractor who is only a restoration company or the Public Adjuster who may or may not be a general contractor also. Only use a Public Adjuster who can demonstrate that they are first and foremost a Public Adjuster with years of experience. That they have the track record and are licensed. If they are also a qualified General Contractors and can demonstrate ethical, efficient and proper repairs that is a plus. But again, make sure they are a qualified firm. Qualified and high level public adjusters will fight and go to appraisal if necessary to maximize your claim. They will seek to total out the personal property and not simply let a cleaning company come and pick it up thereby depriving you of thousands and thousands of dollars. Harris Claims Services is a qualified Public Adjusting firm as well as a premier qualified General Contractor of fire insurance losses.
Fire insurance claim help can be found by hiring an experienced public adjuster, specifically a fire damage adjuster. These claim experts, like those at Harris Claims Services know the ins and outs of the claim process. We understand construction and fire damage repairs. By using us as your own adjuster and a reputable general contractor will ensure and provide you with the most highly trained experts. These experts at Harris Claims Services will seek the most accurate settlement and begin the rebuilding process in a proper and efficient manner.
Things To Keep In Mind
If you’re considering hiring professional fire claim help keep these things in mind when searching for the best fire claim adjuster and / or general contractor:
- Hire Experience– You should consider only professionals with more than 10 years of verified experienced with fire claims help and fire restoration.
- Verify Track Record – Ask for and actually contact past clients. Ask for an additional list of referrals. These referrals should be supplied to you in a timely and efficient manner.
- Check Licensing – Verify that the insurance claim adjuster and/or general contractor you choose has a valid license(s). License verification can usually be done online.
- Run a Background Check – Verify that they have no criminal history. Ask if they have ever been charged with insurance fraud. Ask if they were ever and are no longer a Public Adjuster. There are those out there in Illinois that fit this description.
- BBB Listing – See if they are an accredited member with the better business bureau and have a compliment, not complaint history there praising their work.
- Meet the Owner – Salesman can be fine people. But meet the owner, he or she will have the last say on any issues that come up later.
- Public Adjuster License is Current and Never Suspended – Make sure the firm you hire is a registered Public Adjusting Firm. Some owners are not licensed public adjusters and they use someone else’s license pretending to have the qualifications you should demand and need. Check to see if the license is current. This is important because to have a current license you must comply with the State of Illinois’ request to be properly bonded and have your actual Public Adjuster Contract reviewed and approved by the Illinois Department of Insurance. Illinois State Statute (215 ILCS 5/512.59)
- Take Your Time – The fire claim process can be one of the longer claim types to settle. Good claim settlements do not come quickly. So take your time hiring professional help. Someone who pressures you into signing a contract should be a warning sign.
- Be Smart – If a potential public adjuster or general contractor asks for money upfront then run the other direction. If they offer you a deal that sounds to good to be true. It is. If you’re adequately insured then all repairs and public adjuster services should be handled within the claim process without any money upfront.
- Homework – Make sure to review, do not simply sigh with someone you meet only one time.
- Night Chasers – Public adjusters at Night are NOT to be Trusted – In Illinois public adjusters are not authorized and it is illegal for them to solicit you during the night. They may not approach or solicit you between 7:00 P.M. and 8:00 A.M.
- (e) A Public Insurance Adjuster may not propose or attempt to propose to any person that the Public Insurance Adjuster represent that person while a loss-producing occurrence is continuing nor while the fire department or its representatives are engaged at the damaged premises nor between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. (215 ILCS 5/512.59 (e))
- Stay away from individuals wo are violating this law. These are usually the ones with nothing to lose. They have already been sanctioned or have had their license suspended. They are usually referred to you by the board up men who are not licensed and yet make a referral fee (thousands of dollars) for getting you to go with the company they suggest to you. (blog coming on this issue soon)
Contact Us For A No Obligation Consultation
We can provide more information on and about public adjuster services, practices and provide you with answers to questions about the fire claim process. We have experienced fire damage adjusters that are properly licensed and bonded. Our firm is registered as a public adjusting company with the State of Illinois Department of Insurance. We are here for your fire claims help 24/7/365 and are located in Lincolnwood, near Chicago, IL.