When your home is damaged by an insured peril, you must work through a lineup of complications as you try to get your life back to normal. Those tasks include hiring a contractor, supervising repairs, dealing with the insurance company adjuster and negotiating your claim settlement. It makes sense that you would want to resolve these issues quickly, but rushing to sign on the dotted line could cost you money for a number of reasons.
- The insurance adjuster will likely miss something in his initial damage assessment.
- Construction material prices may increase by the time your repairs begin.
- Repairs often require more labor hours than estimated. Insurance adjusters aren't always the best experts to estimate the actual cost to repair or replace the damaged property
- Your contractor may discover electrical, plumbing or structural damage after he begins the job. A subcontractor might decide to use costlier repair methods.
- If you have already accepted your settlement and signed the final paperwork, your insurance company might take the position that they don't owe you anything else.
Your Homeowners insurance company should never leave you with unpaid bills for legitimate repairs. Deliberate underpayment of your reasonable repair costs is bad faith insurance claims handling. Bad faith issues often arise when an insurance adjuster pushes a settlement before the repair figures are finalized and refuses to consider a supplemental payment.
It's important to take your time when handling your insurance claim. It’s also important to understand that you have a right to hire a public adjuster to represent you. Your public adjuster will likely put the brakes on any premature settlement negotiations while he uses his insurance claim experience, policy knowledge, and negotiation skills to work out the best settlement for you.
Why do insurance adjusters push so hard?
When your home is heavily damaged, an experienced insurance adjusters understand the potential for additional damage. If he pushes you to settle anyway, he isn't necessarily trying to cheat you. It’s more complicated than that:
- Adjusters must quickly report back to higher-ups with a definitive damage estimate so the company can reserve dollars for your claim.
- If the adjuster’s initial reserve was low, there might be a push you to settle for the inadequate amount anyway so the adjuster won't appear incompetent or have to ask the boss for more authority.
- Claim Managers push adjusters to settle economically to minimize company and agent loss ratios.
- Claim employees are controlled by Claim Department and state deadlines and guidelines that hold them accountable if they drag their feet.
- Adjusters must provide regular updates to their managers and outline a clear plan for getting rid of your claim.
- When your adjuster negotiates a favorable (low) settlement for the company, he closes out the company reserve, gets your case off the company books, reduces his caseload and gets positive feedback from his boss.
- If an adjuster is hard-nosed, a penny pincher, or simply doesn't know what he is doing, his ego might get caught up in a quest to prove himself by settling your claim for a lowball figure.
- An adjuster might actually believe that your claim has a lower value than you think.
A public adjuster does what is best for you
When you hire a public adjuster, the insurance company adjuster understands that your PA works for you and will only do what is best for you. Your public adjuster will review every claim detail to make certain you are paid every dollar to which you are entitled as quickly as possible without jeopardizing your claim settlement.