Public Adjuster Explained

Public Adjuster Insurance Hotline:
800-602-9915

Hi, I’m John Morgenstern, President of Priority Adjusters, the premier Public Adjuster in California.

You want your own attorney to advise you in legal matters. You want your own tax advisor to advise you in tax matters. You want your own Realtor to represent you in real estate transactions. You want your financial advisor to advise you on investments that are right for you.

In the same way, you’ll want a Public Adjuster to represent you in major insurance claims from losses of any kind.

Public Adjusters advocate on your behalf. They are intimately familiar with the coverage afforded by your policy AND with local building requirements AND with local building costs for labor and materials. They are involved in such claims every working day and use that experience to your advantage. They are unabashedly on YOUR side – with no allegiance to your insurance company.

Public adjusters perform five primary functions for you. They:

1. Review insurance policy coverage to insure up-to-date and complete reasonable coverage is in place

2. Coordinate emergency repairs and cleanup and advise on covered temporary accommodations

3. Suggest strategies for reducing damages

4. Recommend appropriate action to return your building or home to its pre-loss and current code-compliant condition

5. Ensure that you get a fair, reasonable and complete settlement – (fair, reasonable and complete from YOUR perspective, that is!)

In this complex and litigious world, a Public Adjuster, like your CPA, Attorney, Realtor and Financial Advisor, is a valuable member of your team.

Public Adjuster Insurance Hotline:
800-602-9915

San Bruno Fire Investigation Panel

BY: John Morgenstern

San Bruno explosion and fire damage insurance claims will be impacted by an important decision this week, by the CA Public Utilities Commission.

Helpline for San Bruno property insurance claims:
800-602-9915 (24/7)

Facing intense pressure from neighborhood, community and state leaders, the California Public Utilities Commission ordered convening of an independent investigative panel to review all aspects of the explosion and resulting fire that killed seven and injured nearly 50 others. Over 35 buildings were destroyed in the fire.

PG&E was ordered to fund the panel. Additionally, PG&E was ordered to make all their employees “available to be interviewed by investigators” and to preserve all records related to the safety of the line involved.

The investigative panel will be formed over the next sixty days.

This panel will be highly scrutinized as there is the uneasy feeling that other pipelines in the state may be just as potentially deadly. The safety processes (including testing, records, etc) will be closely scrutinized to determine what caused the explosion and how it might have been prevented. No doubt, the panel results will influence the final insurance claims and settlements.

For now, Priority Adjusters and many other Public Adjuster firms are redoubling their efforts on behalf of San Bruno residents. Helping get initial claims processed in order to get lives “back to normal” as soon as possible. Says John Morgenstern, President of Priority Adjusters, “We are interested in the panel and the investigation, of course. but for now we are focused now on helping the people of San Bruno get fair initial settlements fast so that they can start rebuilding right away.”

San Bruno map of disaster area:

View San Bruno explosion fire in a larger map

Los Angeles Water Damage Repair & Claims

Los Angeles H20 Helpline: 800-602-9915

In Los Angeles (and throughout Southern California) water damage is one of the most common claims on homeowner’s policies. Burst pipes, leaky appliances, roof leaks and sewage/septic back-ups are all too common. AND, there are common insurance claim pitfalls to avoid. Following are five local examples.

1: It’s September in Big Bear and the temperature drops to -10 degrees, causing your water pipes to freeze and burst. Your neighbor, a full-time resident, phones to advise of the unexpected cold-snap. Following your urgent call, your handyman visits the home and reports 6 inches of water in the main floor!

Are you covered? Yes, you’re covered for water damage from burst pipes, but most policies could preclude coverage if you left the house unoccupied and without heat, during the cold season. If that’s the case, your claim could be denied for your failure to perform necessary upkeep that would have prevented the accident.

Word to the wise – call me before you call your insurance company. We will contact them together.

Los Angeles H20 Helpline: 800-602-9915

2: A Torrance homeowner’s washing machine overflows, flooding the laundry room and adjacent bedrooms.

Are you covered? Likely, but it may depend on your insurer. Did you fail to maintain the washer properly? Most often, damage caused by an appliance hose or fitting leak is covered. In the case of a washing machine or a dishwasher, you might have to pay for the appliance repair but the damaged caused to floors, baseboards (and walls, if any) is covered.

Word to the wise – call me before you call your insurance company. We will contact them together.

3: In Redondo Beach, a sewer backs-up, flooding your bathroom, hallway and master bedroom. Yuck!

Are you covered? Not likely! Standard homeowner’s policies won’t cover sewer backups. In fact,  many specifically exclude such claims. Special endorsements are offered, at added cost, for sewers and drains.

Word to the wise – call me before you call your insurance company. We will contact them together.

Los Angeles H20 Helpline: 800-602-9915

4: In Tehachapi, the toilet malfunctions, runs constantly, fills the septic system and fills your home with 4 inches of water!

Are you covered? Most likely, but it may depends on your insurer. Could you have been expected to realize that the toilet was running? Did you leave the home unattended for a long period knowing the toilet was malfunctioning?

In a recent claim like this  in Tehachapi, CA, the homeowner incurred over $30,000 worth of flooring, cabinetry and drywall damage. The mold remediation alone was over $7,500! The insurance company eventually covered it all…except for the $200 toilet that caused the damage. Strange, but true!

Word to the wise – call me before you call your insurance company. We will contact them together.

Los Angeles H20 Helpline: 800-602-9915

5: During a heavy rainstorm, water leaks through the roof of your Riverside home. The roof is damaged, as is the drywall, couch and two expensive pictures.

Covered? Probably, partially. It’s not likely that you will be reimbursed to repair the roof, but the water damage to your home will be covered. Damage to the roof, wall, furniture and pictures is likely covered if you have a standard policy.

Word to the wise – well, you know!

These examples illustrate how common water damage claims are. I bet one or more of the stories reminded you of similar problems encountered by you or someone you know.

My advice is to call me first…my experience can help you right from the start.

Thanks,

Public Adjuster California

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Los Angeles H20 Helpline: 800-602-9915

Ordinance Coverage for Older Buildings

If you own an older commercial building or home, a normal Basic Form, Broad Form or Special Form policy designed to replace your property should it be destroyed will probably not be good enough. Legal requirements adopted since the building was first constructed will require that stronger and safer and more accessible features, materials and designs be used. This may cost more and take longer than covered by the typical policy.

Property insurance policies often exclude costs incurred due to the enforcement of building codes or ordinances. This gap in insurance coverage should be closed by adding “ordinance or law” coverage. You may add ordinance or law coverage to your policy by including two endorsements for commercial buildings: 1) coverage to upgrade the building as required by ordinance or laws and 2) coverage for loss of income during the increased time it takes to bring the building into compliance with applicable ordinances or laws.

For business owners, I highly recommend you add both of these endorsements to your insurance policies. It might not be necessary for homeowners to do the same because your insurance policy may already contain such coverage. In California, some homeowner policies do not include building code upgrade (ordinance or law). Therefore, some California homeowners need the additional endorsements.

A variety of laws could come into play when a damaged building is repaired or rebuilt. This may include local, county, state, and even federal regulations. Additionally, there may be restrictions imposed by homeowners Associations, historical societies and etc. And, in some places, there are requirements that a building with major damage, say 50% or more,  must be demolished rather than repaired. It is important for you to know this upfront so you can get the coverage you may need – very specific to your locale.

The insurers often do not offer ordinance or law coverage unless you specifically request it. Their position is that the building should have been upgraded continuously during the years. However, we all know this is often not the case. The insurance industry has created insurance policy ordinance or law endorsements that you can purchase to provide coverage for this exposure. Your Public Adjuster will provide an audit of your coverage to help you understand if you need them.

Unmasked: What is a Public Adjuster?

Unsure exactly what a Public Adjuster does? Wondering whether you need a Public Adjuster? Rest assured you are far from alone in your limited knowledge of the critical but little known job of Public Adjuster.

Public adjusters perform five primary functions for property owners:

  1. Review insurance policy coverage to insure up-to-date and complete reasonable coverage is in place
  2. Coordinate emergency repairs and cleanup and advise on covered temporary accommodations
  3. Suggest strategies for reducing damages
  4. Recommend appropriate  action to return your building or home to its pre-loss and current code-compliant condition
  5. Ensure that you get a fair, reasonable and complete settlement
    (fair, reasonable and complete from YOUR perspective, that is!)

 Many property owners assume that their general coverage offered by the local insurnace sales agent is appropriate for  them – even though most people choose their coverage based solely on price.  Prior to a property loss price can seem very important. However, after a fire loss, flood loss (including backed-up sewer or septic), or earthquake loss it becomes absolutely critical to have the right coverage in place. The financial risks are obvious, less obvious is the emotional energy required to cope under stress.

And of course, there is the inconvenience and massive life distruption:

The kids still need to get to school on time.  Your wife still requires a bathroom for minimum of 45 minutes each morning. And your boss may cut you some slack, but that big presentation for which you have been preparing? Well, someone still has to deliver that presentation! (In other words, life continues at breakneck speed – despite your disaster)! 

 An independent review of your coverage (independent of sales commissions) is smart.

 When damage is done, you are faced with all the contingencies of temporary relocation and accommodations. A Public Adjuster on your side is god-send when it comes to orchestrating the myriad clean-up efforts, including secure, repair, demolition and reconstruction efforts.

Property owners typically have problems  documenting and valuing damaged property. It is essential to have a trained, experienced advocate to make sure you do not miss a single item and that all restoration is current code-compliant for safety, aesthetics and ADA regulations. 

Most important of all, Public Adjusters advocate on your behalf. They are intimately familiar with the coverage afforded by your policy AND with local building requirements AND with local building costs for labor and materials.  They are involved in such claims every working day and wield that familiarity to your advantage.

A Public Adjuster is unabashedly on YOUR side as they have no allegiance to your insurance company, or anyone else.

In this complex and litigious world, a Public Adjuster is a valuable member of your team, like your CPA, Attorney, Realtor and Insurance Agent.

Scorched park reopens but experts caution

LA-area park scorched by ’09 wildfire reopens

GLENDALE, Calif.- Public Adjuster John Morgenstern congratulates the Los Angeles County wilderness park on its announced reopening today following extensive damage in the so-called Station fire in ’09.

“For us, there is nothing more gratifing than a reopening following something so devastating,” said Morganstern, head of Priority Adjusters in Los Angeles. “The wilderness park restoration efforts have been nothing short of spectacular.”

Despite the celebration, officials say more recovery work is needed. “Today is a day for celebration,” said Morgenstern. “But it’s also critical we don’t forget the millions of dollars of restoration that still need to be completed. Also, there are still many Glendale homeowners abandoned by their insurance company. These folks continue to suffer.”

The lower portion of the 709-acre Deukmejian Wilderness Park in the foothills above Glendale was reopened this week to the public.However, many hiking trails remain closed.

Most of the park burned during the Station fire, which blackened 250 square miles of the Angeles National Forest and destroyed 89 homes on the edge of the San Gabriel Mountains.

Debris flows and mudslides struck the denuded parkland during winter storms.