Filing A Property Damage Claim

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Do you have property damageBusiness property damage, commercial property damage, industrial property damage, and even home property damage is something no one or corporation is ever totally exempt from.  Natural disasters happen. Things eventually wear out and break down over time.  Vandalism and theft happens.  This is one of the many reasons property owners and homeowners purchase insurance.

If your home, business or industrial property has been affected by property damage or especially  water damage, many try to sort through all of the confusion themselves often settling for less without knowing there is someone to help.  If you have found yourself in a situation where you have sustained damage to your property, a Public Adjuster is the first person you need to speak with.  Why?

First, let’s go over some of what is involved when damages occur.  You will need to contact an emergency contractor.  Before the contractor arrives you will need to take lots of pictures and give an extensive account of all details you observe from the damage, so write everything down!

You will need to go back over your insurance policy to ascertain what is and is not covered.  Some types of property damage is not covered by all insurance so you will need to make sure of which policy covers the specific damages you have sustained, and proceed according to the proper contact(s).  It is not uncommon for some types of insurance to require a rider.

Next you will have to make many phone calls and in many cases wait on hold for an extended amount of time, deal with voicemails, no call backs, and run arounds to name a few.  Also, be expected to receive low-ball offers from the insurance company once the claim is filed and processed.  Be wary of these.  Many will offer you a partial check that states in legal terms that by expecting the low payment that you are agreeing to payment in full by cashing that check, so be careful!  However, there is no need become any more frazzled then you may already be from the damage.  A Public Adjuster will not only file your claim, get processing underway, but also assist in coordinating any contractors that need to be involved as well as other aspects of your case.  This is our specialty. We will advise you on all aspects of your damages and claim. We work hard to not only get you a quick payment, but on average it is much higher than anything the policyholder would receive on their own.

Here at Priority Adjusters, we have the experience and education in dealing with insurance so there are no missteps.  We are  highly trained  as to how to report claims so that it gets open and filed right away.  A Public Adjuster does not get paid until you do, so there is no reason not to give us a call.  For more info you may contact us here.

Public Adjuster Explained

Public Adjuster Insurance Hotline:

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.

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Water and Flood Damage Claims

by John Morgenstern

Just last week I wrote about water damage and mentioned that actual flooding damage won’t be covered unless you have flood insurance. Wow – lots of feedback requesting further information! I hope this helps.

Homeowners and commercial property owners in flood plains are keenly aware of the need to purchase insurance to cover flood-related losses. The federal government, in conjunction with the insurance industry and local communities, formed the National Flood Insurance Program in 1968. This program makes flood coverage available nationwide.

Nearly twenty-five percent of flood insurance claims come from parts of the country that the NFIP considers low to moderate flood risk. NFIP reports that recent year average flood claims have been $24K per household. Often, for homes in moderate to high risk areas, lenders mandate the coverage. Don’t bank on disaster assistance from the feds. The federal government only provides it if the President declares a disaster. And, that assistance is loans, not grants.

To be eligible for flood insurance, you must live in a community that participates in the NFIP. In return, communities implement floodplain management specifications that minimize losses from floods. Use FEMA’s website to determine if your California community participates. The policy is subsidized and administered by the federal government but you purchase it through regular insurance companies.

Costs – Flooding is currently in the news in Minnesota and Wisconsin. A quick check of rates there shows that homeowners in Stillwater, MN (on the WI border and on the scenic St. Croix River) pay over $100 per month for coverage, while a homeowner in Anaheim, CA may only spend $150 per year.

Limitations on coverage are about $500,000 for commercial property and about $350,000 for homes (including damage to contents).

Be cautious. You must know the definition of a flood before you purchase a policy! For example, damage from heavy rains may not qualify. The definition of “flood” used in the coverage is – a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties (at least one of which is the policyholder’s property) from 1) overflow of inland or tidal waters, 2) unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source, 3) mudflow or 4) collapse of land along the shore of a lake or similar body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels.

Myths and Misconceptions abound. For some reason there are lots of misconceptions about flood insurance. The truth is that you can get coverage

1. Nationwide

2. Flood plain or not

3. In spite of the fact that your property may have flooded in the recent past

4. Through your existing Agent/Company (likely)

I hope this helps you understand a little more about water damage from floods. Please visit our Water Damage Insurance Claims page for additional information and resources.

Water Damage Insurance Tips

Be careful how you report water damage to your insurance company. While you must  be truthful, make sure you explain the situation using the most accurate language — or you could find your claim denied.

“The way you initiate your claim may impact the settlement, especially in water damage cases” says John Morgenstern, President of Priority Adjusters.”

“Most people describe a house full of water as “flooded”, right? Well, if it’s not the result of a “flood” you don’t want to use that term with your insurance company! Believe, me!”

A “flood” may not be covered at all, while your damage from a backed-up sewer line or from a burst pipe may be fully covered”. To your insurance company, flooding means that the water came from an overflow of a lake, stream, or river. If it didn’t, don’t even use the word “flood,” says John.

Best advice is to call an adjuster right away to get help filing the claim…and using the terms that are correct to assure your coverage is not limited.