Commercial property claims are complicated, so insurance companies send out their most experienced adjusters to handle them. Seasoned adjusters know damage and coverage issues, and while their experience and knowledge should be a comfort to you as you rebuild your business, they can actually make the process more difficult.
As your commercial property insurance adjuster investigates and evaluates your claim, it’s usually with the intention of settling quickly, saving claim dollars, and moving on to the next insured. It’s important to remember: property insurance adjusters don’t work for you. They work for the insurance companies that hire them.
A Public Adjuster Can Help
When your commercial property settlement is crucial to reopening your business, it’s important to have an insurance expert working on your behalf. There are a number of ways an experienced public adjuster can maximize your commercial claim settlement.
1. Controlling The Investigation
When insurance adjusters investigate claims, they get the facts by asking a lot of questions. Some are designed strictly to reveal coverage or damage issues. If you are nervous or don’t understand what issues they are trying to uncover, you may give seemingly harmless answers that could ultimately jeopardize your claim. As you must cooperate with your insurance company, you can’t refuse to answer their questions, but a public adjuster can help. A PA has the expertise to conduct an independent investigation, recognize issues ahead of time, and prepare you to deal with the insurance company investigation.
2. Handling Coverage issues
When you're dealing with an experienced commercial insurance adjuster, you might not realize that a coverage issue exists until you receive a reservation of rights letter or declination of coverage. One of the important benefits of hiring a public adjuster is that you have an ally with the knowledge to recognize coverage issues as they develop and the expertise to work through them before they spin out of control.
3. Settling Your Business Interruption Claim
BOP business interruption insurance pays business income, extra expenses, and extended business income. These benefits may keep you from closing your doors permanently, but the claims are complicated. They present unique settlement problems as they are subject to an insurance adjuster's opinions on essential guidelines:
The coverage limit is based the “length of time it would have taken to resume operations as quickly as possible.”
Business Income coverage pays continuing "normal" business expenses.
A public adjuster can help you develop and submit the appropriate documentation, deal with adjuster opinions on what are "normal" expenses and what "quickly as possible" means. A PA will also push for maximum dollar recovery.
4. Disputing Actual Cash Value
Some claims are paid based on Actual Cash Value with a deduction for depreciation. The method adjusters use to reach ACV settlement figures relies on depreciation tables and programs that calculate average life expectancy. If your property doesn't fit neatly into an "average" category, your settlement may be unreasonably low. Fortunately, a public adjuster can use documentation and facts to dispute an unacceptably low offer.
5. Negotiating the Best Settlement
Negotiating a fair settlement for your commercial claim can take a lot of energy and effort. Commercial insurance adjusters understand complicated coverage issues. A public adjuster has that same skill set. They understand how to address claims for hidden problems such as smoke, soot, and mold damage. They have the patience and experience to keep the negotiations going until you get a fair settlement offer.