NOT ALL PUBLIC ADJUSTERS ARE CREATED EQUAL.
What do you call a law student or medical student who graduates at the bottom of his class? An attorney, a Doctor. Likewise, as in any field there are the good public adjusters and there are bad public adjusters. The purpose of this post is to provide information on what to look for and to stress the importance of not becoming a victim twice.
THE FIRE IS OUT HOW TO FIND A PUBLIC ADJUSTER.
The fire is out and now you must decide do I need a public adjuster to help me. Deciding to hire a Public Adjuster is the first step in the process of resolving your fire insurance claim. Public Adjusters must operate under the laws of Illinois.
THE INSURANCE COMPANY ADJUSTER IS NOT YOUR ADJUSTER. YOUR PUBLIC ADJUSTER IS YOUR ADJUSTER
The insurance company has dispatched its adjuster. The insurance company adjuster has determined your fire loss. It is not what you had expected or were promised. You are very upset to say the least. You now realize the insurance company commercials and promises are not accurate. You reach out to find help. Attorneys understand the law, qualified public adjusters understand the estimating and settlement process of a fire loss. Public Adjusters, the good ones, understand how to properly prepare the claims and estimates. You need to find one. But who to trust?
THE PROBLEM – PUBLIC ADJUSTERS – THE GOOD ONES ARE MORE THAN CONTRACTORS
The problem however, as in life, how do you find one that really understands and is properly qualified. Public Adjusters are licensed by the state of Illinois. They are finger printed and have to pass an examine. Back ground checks are made. The difficulty of the exam has been reduced over the past decade. Years ago the test was much more difficult. Now we find Public Adjusters that frankly have no clue on how to properly handle an insurance claim. To understand the difference between a public adjuster and company adjuster read this link here. “Three Types of Claims Adjusters”
QUALIFIED PUBLIC ADJUSTERS – THE GOOD ONES.
Qualified Public Adjusters will have a proven track record. Think of your public adjuster as someone who should be qualified in the all areas. They should understand the entire process. They should be able to explain and monitor not just your building claim but also your contents (personal property) claim and your additional living expense claim. A qualified public adjuster should understand your policy of insurance. They should understand the conditions, the obligations, the responsibilities of all parties and importantly the terms. Let’s look at a few of the terms.
- Replacement Cost Value = the cost to fully repair all damage from the fire
- Actual Cash Value = the deduction for depreciation which is determined by evaluating the age and condition of the building and its components.
- Depreciation = again the value given when taking into account the age and condition of the building and its components before the fire.
- The estimating formula = Replacement Cost – (minus) Depreciation = Actual Cash Value
- Vacant = No intention to live in the property
- Unoccupied = An intention to reoccupy the building, (vacation, building repairs, in between tenants ect).
- Contents claim = Claim made for all your personal property.
- ALE = Additional Living Expense Claim. = Money spent to live elsewhere and monies spent which you would not otherwise have spent. (travel expenses is an example)
These are simply a hand full of the terms.
A qualified public adjuster will understand the time restraints for a proof of loss. A proof of loss is a form that is submitted to the insurance company setting forth matters of your fire loss and the amount of the claim. Public adjusters will review the form, complete the form and go over the fire damage estimate before you sign the proof of loss. A public adjuster may not sign the form for you. Some in the past have made that mistake. Again, the ones to be avoided. Some policies of insurance require a proof of loss to be submitted within sixty days of the fire. Other insurance policies only require it be submitted when demanded by the insurance company. Your public adjuster must understand the difference and other matters.
Appraisal is a great tool to use to get the fire claim or other insurance claim settled. A qualified public adjuster will and must understand this. Too many times we find public adjusters, the bad and ugly ones simply to be contractors. They don’t view the fire claim as a claim to be negotiated and settled. Rather they see it as a construction project. At Harris Claims Services we see the situation, the fire loss as a claim first and foremost. A qualified public adjusting firm, will estimate the loss, negotiate the loss, and produce a proper estimate to serve on the insurance company. Some times that is not enough. When push comes to shove and the insurance company adjuster digs in then a qualified public adjuster will demand appraisal. The process of the appraisal is the subject of another blog to come. Simply put a qualified public adjuster will demand appraisal to further maximize the claim. At Harris Claims Services will have extensive knowledge and a long track record of positive appraisal results.
SIGNS OF AN UNQUALIFIED PUBLIC ADJUSTER – WHO IS NOT A PUBLIC ADJUSTER
On the other side of the coin we can see negative signs to determine qualifications of a Public Adjuster and the Public Adjusting firms to avoid at all costs.
ROOFING AND GENERAL CONTRACTORS ARE NOT PUBLIC ADJUSTERS
Many are simply roofing contractors who took the test so they could argue with insurance adjusters on roofing claims. That is fine for a roofing claim. However, roofing contractors do not understand the process of contents or personal property claim. They do not understand structural issues and code issues. General contractors by law may NOT adjust insurance claims. Only a public adjuster may estimate and negotiate insurance claims. The laws of Illinois are there to protect the fire victims and consumers. The law does not allow Contractors to adjust and negotiate insurance claims unless they are licensed and bonded as public adjusters also.
BOARD UP COMPANIES, BOARD UP MEN ARE NOT PUBLIC ADJUSTERS
We find board up companies out there chasing fires, at night, during the day, right at the fire. Even before the fire is out. They direct the fire victims to hire their parent companies. Board up companies are a part of the process after a fire. You must board up your property. We understand that and started Chicago Board up years ago to serve that purpose for our clients. We don’t hide this fact like others do. We did this to avoid those bad board up companies all together. Chicago Board Up is available by phone and serve on community lists 24/7/365.
Importantly, again importantly Harris Claims Services does NOT have Board up men chasing fires and acting as Public Adjusters. We do NOT employee ten or 20 men to post up in parking lots and listen to scanners chasing down owners. Others cannot say the same. At this point you are now understanding why the board up men who boarded up your building recommended certain public adjusters. Again board up men may NOT adjust a loss and are NOT public adjusters. Any company that has to employee, ten, twenty or more men to post up around the city to chase fires and direct fire victims to there parent company to a public insurance adjusting firm is not a company to do business with. They are using board up men as a sales force for acting as Public Adjusters. Any public adjusting company using board up men as public adjusters must be avoided at all costs.
They surround the homes and argue at the scene of the fire. There are laws in place, but as with any law the enforcement of it can be an administrative problem. It’s an ugly problem and perhaps illegal. Again, these Board up men chasing fires down are not licensed public adjusters and should not be involved in adjusting insurance claims. Plain and simple. You can find more information on the ugly public adjusting company and board up problem here in other blogs. Any board up man adjusting insurance claims should be reported to the department of insurance. Anyone negotiating a fire loss, applying the circumstances of the fire loss and estimating the loss, negotiating with the insurance company must, again must be licensed by the State of Illinois.
SALESMAN OR PUBLIC ADJUSTER
Sales men are not Public Adjusters and Public Adjuster are not salesman. The Qualified Public Adjuster will be there every step of the way. They will not sell you the dream car and leave you later to the mechanic for engine repair. Companies to avoid use salesman to solicit, sign and then after the ten day grace period are gone. These are just sales people. They do not even adjust the claim.
LETS TALK MORE ABOUT WHAT SEPARATES THE GOOD FROM THE BAD PUBLIC ADJUSTER.
At Harris Claims Services you will see how we handle the fire claim process, the estimating, the negotiation, the paper work and if necessary the appraisal. Our company president and owner is a licensed public adjuster for decades and is also a practicing attorney. In fact he writes the blogs you read here. A qualified public adjuster knows how to negotiate at the loss with the insurance adjuster, understands how to write the estimate, how to write up the contents claim and more. Making the decision on who to trust at this time of need is a major life decision to be taken seriously. Get the facts, educate yourself and find a qualified public adjuster such as Harris Claims Services. Qualified Public Adjusters working for you. Not the insurance company. Call 847-329-8444.