The worst has happened. Your home was flooded by a hurricane, river overflow or just torrential rainfall. Thank goodness we have flood insurance, you told the first person you saw. Now we can collect on those premiums we’ve been paying all these years.
The claims adjuster contacts you promptly and explains the process of filing your insurance claim. With luck, he or she is courteous, professional and surprisingly understanding; after all, we’ve all heard the horror stories about insurance adjusters of all kinds. Your adjuster comes to inspect your home or business, takes a lot of photos and discusses the coverage for your property damage. All is well, it appears, and I should quickly add that it may well be.
No program is perfect and flood insurance adjusters come at all levels of competence. Most will not purposely short you because their pay is often based on the amount of money they are able to get you. It is a common misconception that flood adjusters get “bonuses” or other incentives for paying less for property losses. Getting you $50,000 for your flood damage can pay the adjuster far better than say, getting you $25,000.
Still, oversights happen; personality clashes occur. You might not get the explanation you want on your coverage, for instance. Or you might disagree with the pricing structure for repairs or personal property damage. For whatever reason, you might not trust that the adjuster is treating you fairly. Truly, it is just good business to do a kind of smell test on the treatment you receive from anyone handling your money or a service you’ve paid to receive.
So, what do you do when you have tried to reason with the adjuster and he or she fails to respond to your satisfaction? Lawyers are expensive and finding one who understands the flood insurance program can be difficult. Public adjusters, persons whom you hire for a percentage of the claim payment to represent you, are sometimes considered a good way to address dissatisfaction with the claims process. There are certainly times when that can be an answer, but first, it’s a really good idea to consider whether you need to pay someone a share of your repair money to help you get what believe you have coming.
Consider this: A Public Adjuster, no matter what he does, cannot get you more than your loss is worth. Say you truly have a £100,000 loss to your home. A contractor you trust has shown you the numbers and you believe it to be true. Your flood adjuster is recommending payment of, say, £90,000. You hire a loss adjuster with the agreement to pay 10% of the proceeds plus all his expenses. There is a long fight because whenever loss adjuster gets involved, the flood adjuster and his company along with the insurance company prepare for a fight. It’s not because they’re trying to cheat you; it’s because they have a long history of deflecting inflated demands.
So, there is a long fight and the PA finally manages to squeeze the £100,000 you need out of the insurance company, based on the estimate your contractor gave you for free. The PA then collects his bill for 10%, $10,000 in this case, plus oh, $3000 expenses. You have to pay him; you signed a legal contract and he is likely listed as a payee on the check. He will probably get his money before you get yours. Your £100,000 that you desperately need for repairs just became £87,000, £3000 less than the £90,000 your flood adjuster recommended.
Sometimes it might make sense to contract a PA if you can find one with a proven understanding of the flood policy and the amount you’re fairly sure you can collect is large enough to cover your repairs plus the usual 10% fee.
Still, many, many flood claims can be settled by the policyholder himself through an established process built into the flood program. The appeals process, while annoying and possibly troublesome at a time when one more headache is the last thing you need, can be highly effective and, when the dust clears, you’ll have the entire claim payment in hand to use in putting your home or business back in the shape it was in before the flood.