Frequently Asked Questions
A public adjuster advocates for the policyholder in appraising and negotiating an insurance claim. The insurance company has many adjusters working for them. They are there to represent the insurance company and will often settle claims in their best interest, not yours. However, a Public Adjuster works specifically for you and has your best interest in mind. They help ensure that the final settlement is fair to the policyholder.
A public adjuster works off of commission, which consists of a small percentage of your settlement. We don’t get paid unless you get paid. If we are unable to recover any money for you, you owe us nothing. Within the State of Florida, the standard commission for a public adjuster is 20%.There are extreme circumstances, however, such as a hurricane or a State of Emergency, that would limit our percentage to 10% for one year following the date of loss.
By law, your insurance company has 90 days, from the date your loss is reported, to make a decision on your claim. Within that time, they have the right to inspect the property more than once if needed, and, may also send an engineering company that specializes in the type of claim you are reporting. Most insurance companies will wait the full 90 days to let us know their decision. Once we know this decision, you will have the opportunity to accept it or, if you are not satisfied, we will keep fighting for you. If you disagree with their initial decision, we still have many options at our disposal such as requesting an Appraisal or consulting with an attorney. We work with some of the best attorneys in Florida, who are experts in this area, and will help push the claim to a quick settlement.
Every claim is unique, and many variables can impact how long it takes to reach a resolution. Many claims settle in a few months, while others may take a year or two. In order to settle your claim as quickly as possible, the loss must be properly documented and reported to the insurance company as soon as possible. Losses that are not reported immediately, or for which the cause is less apparent, can take longer to resolve. Once we have a clear understanding of your specific claim, we can give you a better estimate of the likely timeline. It is important to keep in mind that many policies have specific deadlines and rules regarding the claims process. If damages are not reported in accordance with these policies, your insurance company may use that as a tactic to delay or deny your claim. Let us help you avoid these “pitfalls” so that you can get paid as quickly as possible.
Depreciation is determined by a formula your insurance company uses to pay you less. It involves paying you less for your property based on the number of years you have owned it. For example, most insurance companies will ask you questions such as, “How old is your roof?”or “When did you purchase your couch?” Most people don’t recall the exact date and may respond by saying, “It’s so old I don’t remember…. Maybe 15 or 18 years.”What has now happened is that you have allowed the insurance company the ability to round up to the highest possible age of the items in question. Depreciation can be subjective. It is best to let your Public Adjuster negotiate with your insurance company regarding the deprecation values of your property. Whenever possible, be sure to have documentation to substantiate your property’s value.
Florida, your insurance company is required to make reasonable repairs to ensure matching what was previously installed. For example, let’s say you have continuous wood flooring in your home. After a plumbing leak in the bathroom, the water found its way into the hallway and damaged some wood flooring. Your insurance company has a duty to match “quality, color and size” of all the wood flooring in your home, upstairs and downstairs if applicable.
Same thing applies to your exterior. Shingles or roof tiles damaged, but not all? There is no way you are going to match anything exterior due to production runs that expired years ago. These issues arise because most insurance companies pay for only the damaged amount and end up fighting with their customers over the fact that their roof now looks like a checkerboard of mismatched patches.
Luckily, Florida has a statutory answer to many of these issues:
“§ 626.9744. Claim settlement practices relating to property insurance
Unless otherwise provided by the policy, when a homeowner’s insurance policy provides for the adjustment and settlement of first-party losses based on repair or replacement cost, the following requirements apply:
(1) When a loss requires repair or replacement of an item or part, any physical damage incurred in making such repair or replacement which is covered and not otherwise excluded by the policy shall be included in the loss to the extent of any applicable limits. The insured may not be required to pay for betterment required by ordinance or code except for the applicable deductible, unless specifically excluded or limited by the policy.
(2) When a loss requires replacement of items and the replaced items do not match in quality, color, or size, the insurer shall make reasonable repairs or replacement of items in adjoining areas. In determining the extent of the repairs or replacement of items in adjoining areas, the insurer may consider the cost of repairing or replacing the undamaged portions of the property, the degree of uniformity that can be achieved without such cost, the remaining useful life of the undamaged portion, and other relevant factors.
(3) This section shall not be construed to make the insurer a warrantor of the repairs made pursuant to this section.
(4) Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize or preclude enforcement of policy provisions relating to settlement disputes.”
For Florida policyholders, if the policy calls for replacement cost and the loss occurred after October 1, 2005, it is important to know that Fla. Stat. § 627.7011 prevents an insurer from attempting to depreciate the undamaged portion of the structure that needs to be replaced due to matching:
“(3) In the event of a loss for which a dwelling or personal property is insured on the basis of replacement costs, the insurer shall pay the replacement cost without reservation or holdback of any depreciation in value, whether or not the insured replaces or repairs the dwelling or property.”