Tips On How To Get An Insurance Claim Settled Fast!
There are so many insurance companies out there and the process for settling an insurance claim will be unique to each company. We recommend hiring a Public Adjuster to help you with this process. A Public Adjuster works for you and not the insurance company to help you get the largest possible settlement for real damages to your property.
Another benefit of hiring a Public Adjuster is their experience in cutting through all of the red tape that surrounds many insurance claims. In addition, the fees a Public Adjuster charges are based on a percentage of the final claim generally above and beyond what you would have received had you not hired a public adjuster.
If on the other hand you want to go it alone, here are some useful tips for you to consider using.
Insurance Claim Tip 1: Adjusting Your Insurance Claim
After the dust clears and you can get back into your home, you will want to give your insurance company a ring and schedule a time and date to have one of their adjusters come out and take a look at the damages. The insurance company will send out one of their adjusters who will survey the damage and make an offer to you at some point there after the consultation.
Generally speaking they will issue you an advance against the full claim settlement until the final payment is issued. In some instances they will offer you a full settlement right then. If, you choose to accept this offer you may do so at that time. If at some future date you discover additional damages that were overlooked by the first adjuster, you can request the case be reopened and file additional claims for the newly discovered damages. Keep in mind that there are often clauses in your insurance policy that set a term for any additional cases on the same incident. A good resource for Texas Residence is the Texas Department of Insurance.
In many cases you will receive individual payments for your damages. The one payment will be issued for your personal belongings, and then a subsequent check will be issued for damages to home itself. These may come in the order prescribed above, or not depending on the insurance company. In addition, your insurance company may issue a third payment for living expenses accrued for cost of living away from your home during construction. Often times you will be responsible for keeping your receipts; however, in some cases the insurance company will cut you a check against the total settlement to help you offset your living expenses until the work on your home is completed. You will need to defer to your policy for this information.
Insurance Claim Tip 2: Who Actually Get’s the Checks?
Unless you already own your home, in which case the check will come directly to you, then your mortgage company will be involved in the process of receiving payment. In fact, most people are paying their mortgages and in this case, the insurance company will make the check payable to both you and your mortgage company. Most mortgage company’s, acting as lenders, will require the tenants of a home to name the mortgage company in the homeowner’s insurance policy and will require that they be party to the issuance of any payments made out for damages to the home they are underwriting.
Once you or the mortgage company receives the check, it will have to be endorsed by both party’s. In many cases the lender will assign the money to an escrow account and then pay for the repairs as the work is completed. This is how the lender ensures their investment is protected and that real damages are corrected with the money the insurance company pays out.
Often times, the bank will send an inspector out to verify completion before releasing funds to the contractor who has done the job. For specific guidelines and best practices you can contact the Texas Department of Banking.
Insurance Claim Tip 3: Selecting a Contractor Paying Them
When it comes to repairing your home you want to know that the contractor is qualified and able to do the job to your satisfaction. The best place to start your search for a contractor is to contact the Texas Association of Builders, the Texas Better Business Bureau, the Texas Chamber of Commerce, or other resources and review sites like Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor, or Yelp.
Whoever you choose to do the work on your home you will want to make sure that they are licensed and insured. There are many unscrupulous people in the world whose only interest is separating you from your money and will commit fraud to do it. The instances of fraud in construction occurs more frequently around natural disasters that impact a large area of your community. These miscreants will disguise themselves as reputable businesses and go door to door to scam people. While there are many reputable companies that offer reliable construction services you should do your due diligence and check to see if the company is registered in your state to do business. Here is a really good resource to find out if a company is licensed to perform services in your state. It is called the Contractors License Reference site. Since Texas doesn’t have a license requirement for contractors building homes, as only certain contractors, such as HVAC, fire sprinkler installers, plumbers, electricians and well drilling/pump installation specialists, need to be licensed in Texas, it is good to contact and review those services listed above prior to hiring a construction company. Many general contractors will utilize the services of licensed company’s for specific tasks, and some have licensed professionals within their company. Still, you will want to verify the company and their insurance before work begins.
Below is a list of things to consider when hiring a contractor
When Hiring a Contractor:
- Do get more than one estimate.
- Don’t feel obligated to sign a contract on the spot until you are sure you want to.
- Do get everything in writing including, the cost of the job, the work that will be done, the materials that will be used, the timeline for completion, any guarantees, an agreed upon payment schedule and/or any other costs or expectation that need to be detailed.
- Do request references and verify each reference.
- Do ask for credentials, and make a note of license numbers, drivers licenses and license plates.
- Do ask for proof that the contractor is bonded, and/or carries liability insurance, and that the contractor has their employees covered as well with workers compensation in the event that they are injured on your project.
- Do verify the contractors place of business.
- Don’t ever sign a contract with blanks; cross through the blanks spaces to insure that nothing is added after the fact.
- Don’t pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until after the work is completed.
- Do request a lien waiver indicating the contractor has paid its subcontractors and suppliers.
- Do, above all, check out your contractor thoroughly prior to hiring one.
As for paying the contractor when the work is finished or at appointed times or way marks along the construction schedule timetable, always make sure that you are satisfied with the work before making the payment. It is easier to get the work done to your satisfaction when the company that does the work is waiting to get paid. In some cases the contractor will require payment from you directly. In other cases, they will require payment from the insurance company. Either way, make sure that the payment instructions are clearly outlined before work commences.
Insurance Claim Tip 4: Getting Compensated for Personal Belongings
The best preparation is to keep inventory of the things in your home before a disaster occurs. Keeping proof of purchase such as receipts or invoices is a good practice. Many people will take a video of their home and their possessions and store this on the cloud in the event of a fire or catastrophic disaster. A really good source for storage of these photos, videos and receipts and other documents is an online storage company called MediaFire. You can also store your irreplaceable photos and music collections there too! You might also keep a copy of an inventory list in your safety deposit box in the event that you have no other reference due to damages to your home or property.
In most cases the insurance company will only pay a percentage of the amount of insurance you have at the time. This will vary from company to company, but on average the pay out is generally between 50–70% of your coverage amount.
Depending on the type of policy you have your insurance company will reimburse you for the out of pocket cost for replacing the items that were damaged from your personal inventory. Other types of policies will pay out cost minus the depreciated value of the items and is evaluated on a cash value at the time the damage occurred.
Again, as with many policies, your lending institution will likely be involved in the payout for both damages to the home and personal items. Be sure to request that your insurance company make payment for these items. In some cases the insurance company will require you to purchase the items prior to cutting a check for the items. If you decide not to re-purchase some or all of the items that were destroyed; say you want to make a clean start, in many cases the insurance company will pay out a depreciated or actual cash value of the items that were lost. In any case you will need to check with your insurance company to determine their protocols and timelines for payment on your insurance claim.
Insurance Claim Tip 5: What To Do About Additional Living Expenses
Your insurance company should make out checks payable directly to you for additional living expenses which are necessary while your home is under construction. This includes the cost of hotel, dining, transportation, etc., and has nothing to do with the cost of repairing your home. Be sure to check with your policy on what they pay out for this portion of your claim. It may not be a lobster and caviar budget if you had previously enjoyed top ramen and Ritz crackers, but it should be enough to see you through until your construction is completed.
Insurance Claim Tip 6: Options for Moving
There may be many reasons for not wanting to return to a home after it has been damaged or completely destroyed. Some people simply want to pick up stakes and move somewhere else to get a fresh start, others may have lost a loved one at the location and the thought of returning is unbearable. Whatever your reason, you have options.
If you wish, you can rebuild your home on the same location. Depending on your insurance claim policy and the limits on your declaration page, you should be awarded the replacement cost of the home which will be required by the insurance company to go to the purchase of a new home.
Depending on the policy and the governing law of the area in which you live you can settle with your insurance company and use the funds to move and live somewhere else.
Insurance Claim Tip 7: Hiring A Public Adjuster
Like anything else, you want to do your homework before hiring any professional, but if you decide to have a public adjuster to represent you we would be honored for your consideration. A Public Adjuster Group is comprised of Licensed Public Adjusters with decades of experience handling insurance claims. In addition to the wealth of knowledge they have navigating through the verbiage of insurance policies, cutting through red tape, and generally getting claims settled for more than most people can on their own, A Public Adjuster Group also has decades of experience in every facet of construction. Because of this, Randy Smith and his team of qualified adjusters can identify problems that your insurance company adjuster may overlook due to inexperience or lack of knowledge.
For more information about settling an insurance claim, or to hire a public adjuster contact us today!