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"Shock, Fear, Anger and so many other negative emotions that I can’t remember them all, bombarded my senses as I drove closer and closer to what started out as a black rising cloud in the distance but slowly and inexorably became a burning inferno right in the middle of my family’s house of 26 years.

I can’t tell you what the Red Cross workers said to us that day. It’s mostly a blur. We lost our dog and a parakeet, but our family members were all elsewhere when the fire burned. I do remember a policeman asking me why I was upset and yelling. I remember telling him to turn around and look at the house and to figure it out for himself. Not my finest hour, to be sure.

Insurance. Yes, the house was insured. Turns out that it was a very good policy, but we needed a law degree and a thesaurus to interpret most of it. We also had secondary renters’ insurance because we are a multigenerational family; the type that used to be the norm in the 1950s and 60s. But I digress.

Our family went to a hotel that evening, arranged by the Red Cross and paid for eventually by our contracted insurance companies. I highlight “contracted” because as we knew before and were made painfully aware by this entire horrible experience, “If it isn’t in writing, it’s fiction”.

Finding myself with a whole bunch of time on my hands, I started asking myself (and others), “What do you do after experiencing a house fire?” DuckDuckGo was my friend. The internet was full of articles about that very topic (who knew?), most of which ended up trying to sell us a good or service.

One term that kept on getting mentioned was, Public Adjuster. I, and it turns out about 99% of people I have subsequently spoken with, had no earthly idea what that meant. After investigating, I discovered that a Public Adjuster is someone in the Private Sector (no mixed signals there) with knowledge of both building construction/reconstruction and the inner workings of the insurance industry. By happenstance of fate, I lacked skills in both.

Miller Public Adjusters in Appleton was at the top of the list when searching Public Adjusting companies in Wisconsin and the only firm to answer their phone. God smiled on us that day. Within a few days of the fire, we met with representatives of Miller PA in our hotel room. There we fatefully met Sam Ifft, the Operations Manager for Miller PA. Sam patiently explained not only what he did, but how he would do it and answered all of our questions. Did I mention that he had to deal with a 92-year-old unhappy
homeowner that just got uprooted and still hadn’t fully processed what was happening to his lifestyle? Sam and David Miller (owner) took the reins and guided us through the multiple step process of starting and managing a large insurance claim.

Immediately, Miller PA arranged for a crew to preserve the presumed fire origin site for all parties concerned. After gaining permissions from those parties, Miller PA initiated their contents process to sift through the remaining rubble to photograph, catalog and dispose of anything and everything left in the house. From this (in our case, nine days and multiple large trash containers) ordeal they constructed a tangible, irrefutable, detailed spreadsheet record of all of our lost belongings. This part was HUGE when
dealing with the insurance companies about personal property coverage.

Miller PA then used an amazing technology to map the inside of the house for measurements, along with carefully noting the quality and quantity of materials and equipment left in the house. Another HUGE advantage later when dealing with the main insurance company about replacement value of the appliances and house structure itself.

To make the rest of this saga simple and easier to follow, a pattern emerged:

Us: What now?
Sam: Here’s the next step. I will get in touch with the insurance companies and copy you in my emails.
Insurance Companies: No
Sam: Wrong answer and here’s why you’re going to do the right thing.
Insurance Companies: Stamp feet and pout
Sam: (follows up consistently) And…?
Insurance Companies: “FINE! Here’s the payment!”
Rinse. Repeat.

If someone hadn’t already given the title of Miracle Worker to Helen K. I would gladly pin it on Sam. His unflappability in the face of multiple “adversaries” was a true blessing and a wonder to behold. As Billy Madison famously said, “Boy am I glad I called THAT guy!”

Even with a major snowstorm the day after the fire and a pandemic that delayed the Cause and Origin investigation for four months, Sam and David stayed in close contact with us, called us back quickly when we asked questions and generally acted as personal counselors. I am 100% convinced that without Miller Public Adjusters we would have been totally ripped off by the insurance companies, be renters or
homeless today and perhaps I would be laying in a corner of a padded room in a fetal position. No, I’m NOT kidding!

Final results: Brand new, custom home (shout out to Portside Builders) that is a direct result of the insurance claim being fully paid, as per the contract provisions (overt and covert).

If you’ve read this far, Good On You!

Two items that I now cover with practically anyone that dares to have a conversation with me that lasts over three minutes:

  1. Check your insurance policy part D to make sure there’s enough coverage to keep you in temporary housing for at LEAST a year following a disaster like a fire. Our need was 18 months.
  2. Tell your family and friends that Public Adjusters exist. You never know who or when they might be needed. I pray you never have the need.

If you are reading this because you think you might need help, call Miller Public Adjusters today. You won’t be sorry."


-Kurt W.

Home Owners

Client Story - Kurt W - Infographic

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