Monsoon Preparedness

Summer season is upon us here in Arizona.  Every year we need to navigate the summer monsoon storms.  Here are suggestions from the State of Arizona for  how to be prepared as best you can.  Hoping we all experience a mild season.

Please remember if your property suffers any kind of damage AJR Public Adjusters are available to assist and alleviate the stress of negotiating and settling your insurance claim.  Out priority is to maximize your settlement and ensure you are being reimbursed for all the coverages you have paid for.

Consultation is FREE.  CALL US FIRST.

You’ll be glad you contacted the #1 Public Adjuster in Arizona with over 30 years experience and A+ Better Business Bureau Reviews.

AJR Public Adjusters — office 602-795-5227    cell 480-519-9099 

 

 

How To Protect Your Home From Water Damage

Given our current Monsoon Season, here are some tips from the Insurance Information Institute regarding preventing water losses to your property.  Try to take precautions now to prevent water damage to your property.

Below is an example from a client of AJR who suffered water damage and a picture of the ominous looking clouds we are experiencing in the Valley right now.

Water damage is one of the most common and costly disasters affecting U.S. residences, accounting for billions of dollars in losses to homeowners and renters annually. However, consumers can protect themselves with the right amount and type of insurance coverage.

Source: How To Protect Your Home From Water Damage

Is Honey from bees in the walls covered?

This may seem like a strange question. It was to us as we have never heard of this problem before.

A client called us with a dilemma.  About four weeks ago they had a service come and remove a beehive.  The removal company mentioned they should be on the lookout for honey, perhaps that was why the hive was formed.

Our client then noticed about four weeks later, there are stains in his walls and is worried there is honey stored in between his kitchen and garage.  He is wondering is this a covered loss under his homeowners policy as it is doing damage to his property?

We took this information to our sources to see if the client is covered and discovered that NO a loss due to this problem is not covered.

Specifically, Insurance Services Office (ISO) Homeowners Policy (HO) excludes birds, rodents or insects and nesting or infestation, or discharge or release of waste products or secretions by animals.

While the ensuing losses not otherwise excluded are covered, since bees live in the hives the leakage of honey is not ensuing, it is a direct loss.  THERE IS NO COVERAGE.

More FAQ for hiring a Public Adjuster for your next property loss.

Your property/community/business has suffered property damage (fire, hail, wind, flood, water), NOW WHAT?

Your first inclination might be to contact your insurance carrier, but this may not be in your best interests. With all your personal and work commitments it may not be feasible for you to monitor and ensure your claim is being handled properly. Why not level the playing field with the insurance company?

WHY HIRE A PUBLIC ADJUSTER?

 Your insurance company has professional adjusters to represent their interests. As a policyholder you are entitled to hire a professionally state licensed adjuster to represent your interests. The public adjuster has experience and knowledge to assist in preparing, documenting and negotiating claims. Adjusters have reviewed several policies prior to yours and know where to look in the policy to make sure your claim is filed for all the coverage’s you have paid for. Often times finding money that otherwise would have been overlooked.

The adjuster you hire should be experienced, licensed with the state and working for a reputable company who has a clean record with the insurance department. All adjusters need to be licensed and their company also needs to hold a license with the Arizona Department of Insurance.

FEE FOR PUBLIC ADJUSTER

The Public Adjuster is paid a contingency fee of the total monies received from the insurance company. The fee can range from 5% – 20% depending on the size of the claim, and is due at the time money is released from insurance company.

DUTIES OF PUBLIC ADJUSTER

 To act as your representative in negotiating and dealing with the insurance company adjuster. Relieve your stress by engaging in discussions and negotiations with the insurance company on your behalf to maximize your recovery. The public adjuster brings in their experts/contractors to estimate and measure the damage independent of the insurance companies estimate. This estimate then provides the framework for the negotiating the adjuster will do with the insurance company.

SOME GOOD QUESTIONS TO ASK PRIOR TO SIGNING CONTRACT:

  •  How many years have you been a licensed Public Insurance Adjuster?
  •  May I have references or see testimonials from previous clients?
  •  Will you personally handle my claim for me?
  •  Will you keep me in the loop and inform me of all outstanding issues   with my claim?

WHEN TO ENGAGE A PUBLIC ADJUSTER:

Ideally the public adjuster should be involved in the claim from the beginning including helping you report the claim.  This is not to say you should feel rushed or pressured after a claim occurs to immediately hire the first person that approaches you. Investigate the company and the individual who will be acting as your representative.

SOME THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR:

 In the State of Arizona contractors are not authorized to represent you in insurance claim negotiations, nor are they professionally licensed or regulated by the state insurance/department agency to do so.

Relying on your insurance company to fairly calculate the amount of damage and what you are owed might not result in a full or fair settlement. The company adjuster who is sent out is measuring the loss for the insurance company not for you.   As the policyholder you are entitled to have the claim loss accurately measured and then be reimbursement for all that you have lost.

BENEFITS OF HIRING A GOOD PUBLIC ADJUSTER: 

  •  An experienced and skilled licensed professional to work on your team.
  •  Someone who understands intricacies of policy and assists in recovering all that you are entitled to
  • Strong advocate on your side to help provide more input and negotiating leverage for the final insurance settlement, more than you may have had on your own.

 

 

AJR Public Adjusters.

With close to 30 years licensed experience in the Public Adjusting field handling claims of all dollar amounts for losses due to fire, flood, water, hail, dust, theft, etc.

www.betterclaimsresults.com

 

FAQ– Public Insurance Adjusters –AJR

FAQ==Common Questions for Arizona’s Best Public Insurance Adjusters –AJR

I just discovered my property has damage from (fire, wind, water, hail, theft, etc), when is the best time to enlist the help of a Public Adjuster?

Upon discovering your property has damage it’s best to contact AJR immediately so we can help you report your claim. Delay in engaging our services, puts the amount that your entitled to recover at risk.  Always wanting to put your best information forward, contacting AJR immediately is to your benefit. Your interest and the insurance companies interest are not the same. Commercials indicate that the insurance companies have your back, this might not always be the case.   Many times insurance carrier’s claim centers ask tricky questions to potentially confuse policyholders into saying things which may compromise coverage on their claim. As the saying goes “anything you say, can and will be used against you”. To protect yourself against these errors, it’s best to contact a Public Adjuster at the first sign of damage to your home or business. The Public Adjuster will gather all the correct pertinent information and help report the claim in a timely efficient manner to the carrier.

 

The insurance company sent out an adjuster, why do I need a Public Adjuster?

There are three types of adjusters, a company adjuster who the insurance company has on staff. An independent adjuster, who the insurance company hires. The insurance company pays them to handle their claims and protect their interests. A Public Adjuster is the only adjuster who is the policyholder’s advocate. The Public Adjuster works only for the policyholder, representing their interest and maximizing the claim for the insured, not minimizing for the insurance company.

 

How do I find a good Public Adjuster in my area?

You want to make sure you hire an experienced licensed Public Adjuster. All Public Adjusters must hold an active license in the state. A Public Adjuster with many years of experience is valuable, as they have seen many things in the industry. The adjuster should have good valid references with whom you can speak to about their experiences. NAPIA – The National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters is the oldest/largest professional organization for this industry. On their website you can find many helpful links.

 

The insurance company and their adjuster say that hiring a public adjuster will delay and slow down the process?

Think about it, the insurance company makes out better if you are not on a level playing field with them. They use lingo special to the insurance industry that you may not fully understand. Hiring your own expert will not slow down the process actually it puts you in the same league as the insurance adjuster. Insurance contracts can be a confusing mix of words, leaving policyholders unsure of what coverage’s actually may be. Though your insurance agent placed your coverage, their allegiance is to the insurance company. Additionally they might not be able to clarify to your satisfaction the questions you may have.
If you were called to the IRS for an audit, would you take an accountant with you to represent your interests? Why would you deal with an insurance companies professional adjuster without someone to professionally represent your interests.

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What’s the best way to level the playing field in claims?

Claim adjusting is a really specialized industry. It is not just putting numbers to the paper and receiving all you have asked for. There is negotiation involved in the process and preparing the claim to put you in the best situation for this negotiation. Relying on your insurance company to calculate the amount of damage and honestly putting forth what you are owed, you are not likely to recover a full fair settlement.
Insurance companies who are in the business to turn a profit send out their adjuster who will possibly value damages to your property differently than you. Many times they make a decision you are not covered for some of your damages. Often times their offer will not even come close to the value needed to restore the damaged property.

This is where an experienced expert, Arizona’s Best Public Adjuster AJR, will help put you in the same ballpark as the insurance company.

 

Who at the firm will personally handle my claim?

Many times companies send out solicitors to “sign up” losses. In times of desperation many people engage in services they later realize might not have been in their best interests. The solicitors who sign the claim up generally are not the ones who handle the claims. You always want to make sure you know who will be personally handling your claim.   You want to feel comfortable with that person, their level of experience and their demeanor. They will be your representation with the insurance company and you need to feel comfortable that you have someone putting your best foot forward in negotiations.

 

Who does my insurance company speak with after I hire a public adjuster?

Once you sign a contract with a Public Adjuster, they will notify your insurance company. At this point all correspondence will be directed towards the public adjuster. The public adjuster should continuously keep you informed and updated of all correspondence and make you aware of the progress of your claim.

 

The insurance company sent out a mitigation company to help with the clean-up, should I always just use this company?

Mitigation/Restoration companies sent out by the insurance company are beholden to the insurance company. Their bread and butter business comes directly from the insurance company, it is not in their best interests to protect you and your concerns with your claim. AJR works with many restoration/mitigation companies who have one job to satisfy their clients not the insurance company. Insurance companies send out their own preferred contractor whose job it is to define the scope of damage and estimate costs for repair. These companies as stated previously are measuring the loss for the insurance company not for YOU. Their job is to protect the financial goals of the insurance company not protect your goals as the policyholder.

 

The mitigation/restoration company wants me to sign and hire them to repair my property and sign a power of attorney stating they can talk with my insurance company about my claim, should I?

The only licensed professional’s to represent a policyholder with an insurance claim is a state licensed Public Adjuster or a lawyer. The benefit of hiring a Public Adjuster over a lawyer is number one it does not make economic sense. Number two is the daily experience the Public Adjuster has in this field. Lawyers are qualified to do this work, but generally this is not the only work they do. Public Adjusters review and handle claims 365 days a year and stay current with education on new laws/rules to adjusting.

Contractors, Mitigation Companies, Restoration companies are not authorized to represent you in insurance claim negotiations, nor are they professionally licensed or regulated by your state insurance department/agency to do so.

No one should ever request a power of attorney be signed over to them, BIG RED FLAG. Public Adjusters have state licensed contracts clients must sign. These are determined by the state.

 

The insurance company is offering to pay out immediately. Why would this be a problem?

Insurance companies lead you to believe that a quick pay out is in your best interests. Policyholders will be more satisfied and look favorably on the carrier. BIG MISTAKE. What looks like great customer service may actually be an attempt to settle a claim and convince you to settle for less money due to stress you are under and just a desire to “finish the claim”. We recommend taking your time and making sure you are completely protected. Don’t feel rushed or sign anything until you understand all ramifications of your claim.

 

My damage is extensive, how can I be sure to recover all my damages?

Severe property damage creates all kinds of complicated issues. Coverage’s you are due under your policy and damage you can’t see may be missed. Experience professional help ensures you will not miss damages that can be submitted as part of your claim.

 

What should I do if my insurance carrier delays the claim?

 Insurance carriers are required to respond to you and process your claim in a specified period of time when certain conditions are met. The public adjuster understands these nuances and can assist with this. If you are getting the run-around with your claim, seek immediate help from an expert in this field.

 

How do I pay for the Public Adjuster services, will my insurance company pay for this?

The Public Adjuster is paid on a contingency fee basis. Be careful when you are interviewing adjusters, this fee should not be more than 25%. The fee you agree to pay is dependent upon the size, type of loss and status of the loss. The amount the adjuster is paid comes from the proceeds you receive from the insurance company. The contract you sign is between you and the adjuster not the insurance company. The adjuster with their knowledge and experience are better suited to maximize your claim and get a better return than trying to handle a claim without their professional advice.

 

What if I can’t agree with my insurance company as to the final $ amount of my claim?

 If the dollar offer the insurance company is making is too low to cover your repairs or losses, there is a clause in every policy called the appraisal clause. This is when you, the policyholder demand an appraisal, which is similar to arbitration in other fields. Each side chooses an appraiser then agree on an umpire.   Each appraiser states the value of the property and amount of loss. If they cannot agree, decision goes to the umpire. Two out of three binds the award. A Public Adjuster is fully capable to act as your appraiser if this situation arises.

 

Is a Public Adjuster an attorney? Can’t I just hire an attorney to represent me?

This is a common question and NO Public Adjusters are not attorneys. They are state licensed professionals whose sole job is to represent policyholders with insurance claim negotiations with insurance company. Knowledge is important, this is the only industry Public Adjusters engage in. Their experience matched with information gained over years puts public adjusters in the best position to negotiate your claim. There is a monetary consideration when deciding whom to engage to represent your best interests with a claim.
There may be times an attorney is needed if legal issues arise in your claim. Denial of claim, bad faith are two examples of conditions that require an attorney representation.

 

I have already settled my claim and now discover there are additional damages I was not aware of, can I get a public adjuster involved now?

As long as you did not sign a full and final release, YES you can engage a public adjuster. You may be required to sign a proof of loss or partial proof of loss, in order to receive some check from the insurance company. There are also statute of limitations that you need to be aware of that may apply to your claim.

 

Do they raise my rates if I file a claim?

There are many factors that are included in rate determination. Your rates aren’t guaranteed to rise or even be dropped by the insurance compay if you do file a claim. With that in mind,iIt is not recommended to file claims for every small loss that occurs to your property. It may work against you in the future, if insurance companies see you consistently file claims for minor damages. We buy insurance to protect us in time of a loss. If you are unsure whether to file a claim or not, give AJR a call. We will discuss your situation and help you decide the best course of action to move forward with.

 

My insurance company has sent me a check what do I do? It is not enough money to fix the damages.

At this point, please reach out to a licensed, experienced Public Adjuster. Evaluation of the policy and documenting papers needs to be made to determine if you are giving up all future rights if you deposit this check. AJR does not charge a fee to come and evaluate your particular situation any step along the way.

 

Should I ask for references of the Public Adjuster?

A quality licensed Public Adjuster should be able to provide at least three references for you to speak with about their claim. When speaking with the references a few good questions to ask are:

  1. If you had another disaster would you hire this public adjuster again?
  2. Do you feel the fee you paid was worth the service you received?
  3. After you signed the contract, was the same adjuster involved with your claim or did someone else take over at the firm?
  4. How long did it take to settle the claim?
  5. Was your settlement enough to restore the property to prior condition?
  6. Were you able to get enough money to replace all of your personal property?
  7. Did the Public Adjuster keep you abreast of all that was happening in your claim.
  8. Did the Public Adjuster take your phone calls in a timely manner?

 

 

 

How are Multi-family dwellings and vacancy handled with vandalism coverage?

Ever wonder how your property will be covered should vandalism occur?  What if you have a multi unit property and one unit is occupied and the others are not.  See answer below from Summit Business Systems, the leader in industry with how coverage applies.

QUESTION:

In a multi-family dwelling one unit was unoccupied & vacant for in excess of 60 days; the 2nd unit was vacated approximately 1 week before the loss. The vandals caused damage (vandalism/malicious mischief) to both units. Is the vandalism exclusion applicable to the 1st unit? Since the entire “building” was not vacant for in excess of 60 days- coverage should be applicable to all damages. Or, worded another way- if tenants were in the 2nd unit & vandalism damage was sustained in the 1st unit (vacant for in excess of 60 days) does the vacancy limitation apply?

ANSWER:

This is easier than it seems at first glance. The vandalism exclusion applies if the dwelling has been vacant for more than 60 days. The definition of residence premises states that the 2, 3, or 4 family dwelling where the named insured resides in one of the units is a residence premises. Therefore, even though the building is divided into separate living units, the entire structure is the dwelling. Therefore, since the entire dwelling wasn’t vacant, coverage applies for both units.

Rest assured that if at least one of your properties is inhabited, you are covered under the insurance policy.

AJR is the one Public Adjuster needed to assist with your coverages and make sure you are paid properly for your loss.  Give us a call 602-795-5227.  www.betterclaimresults.com

“Sistering” and the Repair of a Home via Summit Business Systems

Q

“Sistering” and the Repair of a Home

We are a public adjusting firm. Our client’s home is insured on an independently filed HO 00 03 05 01.

A recent fire did much damage to the home. Part of that damage was the charring of the framing. Instead of replacing the charred framing members, the insurer wants to use a technique called “sistering.” This technique involves leaving the charred piece in place and installing a new piece next to it. The adjuster says that sistering is an acceptable means of repair and refuses to actually replace the damaged framing.

We have enclosed a copy of the policy for your perusal.

California Subscriber A

The policy you sent is worded differently from the ISO policy. The ISO homeowners policy promises to replace damaged building property with “material of like kind and quality and for like use.” It makes no mention of how this is to be done. It does not place any limitations on construction methods to be used. The ISO policy would pay to replace the charred timbers with new ones.

On the other hand, your client’s policy says that it will repair or replace the damaged property “with construction techniques and materials commonly used by the building trades in standard new construction.”

“Sistering,” as we understand it, means that the damaged frame is propped up by the timber fastened next to it. The adjuster may be correct in that this technique is an accepted means of structure repair—repair of an existing structure. However, the policy calls for the use of “common construction techniques and materials used by the building trades in standard new construction.” By definition, sistering could not be a technique used in new construction.

The wording of the policy has committed the insurer to replacing the frame members with new pieces.

This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional service. If legal advice is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought.

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