Tag Archives: insurance claims

Allstate Insurance Policy says repairs must be done in 180 days to receive all the settlement monies?

The latest from Allstate to watch out for is..  Read the allstate policy carefully,  in order to recover all the settlement monies after a disaster, specifically what allstate policy calls hold back depreciation, you MUST complete the repairs in 180 days.  What happens on a large loss that takes 3 months to settle, a month to get the permit and it cant be repaired within the policy dictated terms of 6 months?  It will depend on many factors.  Will Allstate deny payment of depreciation or do they pay. Will they grant an extension? Does liberty mutual and State Farm do the same.  No they have longer time lines.    They   Find out more at our web page   www.HarrisClaimsServices.com

How’s about a nice video on “the Good Hands”

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FAQ FOR CONSUMERS AND – WHAT ARE PUBLIC ADJUSTERS – CHICAGO ILLINOIS

This information was developed to provide consumers with general information and guidance about insurance coverage and laws. It is not intended to provide a legal advice or formal, definitive description or interpretation of the Illinois Department Insurance Policies.  For specific information of the Illinois Department of Insurance on any policy – on any issue, regulated entities (insurance industry) and interested parties you should contact the State of Illinois Department of Insurance or speak with an Attorney.  You need to have all the facts and understand how the process works.

Fires and natural disasters are unforeseen and unpredictable, and the recovery process can be overwhelming.  If you’re Business, property or home was insured you will need to work with the insurance company and through the claims process.  You may be approached by an “insurance adjuster” who claims he or she can obtain a more favorable settlement from your insurance company.  You should always be sure to run back ground checks and seek references.  Check with the Better Business Bureau, the Illinois Department of Insurance and ask your Attorney to look into the matter.  Be careful of any individual offering a service or benefit that sounds or appears “too good to be true” and contact the Illinois Department of Insurance before entering into a contract or formal agreement that raises questions or suspicion.

This fact sheet provides information about public adjusters and answers some frequently asked questions.  For more information please visit http://www.insurance.illinois.gov or call the Department toll-free at (866) 445-5364. Or ask to speak with a representative of Harris Claims Services.  Call 847-329-8444 or visit  www.HarrisClaimsServices.com

Insurance Claims Adjuster Chicago

here are three types of insurance adjusters:

•A “company adjuster” is an employee of your insurance company. They represent the interest of the insurance company and are paid by the insurance company. They will not charge you a fee.

•An “independent adjuster” is hired on a contract basis by your insurance company to represent the insurance company’s interest in the settlement of your claim. They are paid by your insurance company. They will not charge you a fee.

•A “public adjuster” does not work for any insurance company, is not a public employee, and does not work on behalf of the State of Illinois, Department of Insurance, or any other public agency. They work for you to assist in the preparation, presentation and settlement of your claim. You hire a public adjuster by signing a contract agreeing to pay a fee or commission based on a percentage of your settlement, or other method of compensation.

DO I HAVE TO HIRE A PUBLIC ADJUSTER TO DEAL WITH MY INSURANCE COMPANY?

No. However, many consumers find that the services offered by public adjusters can be of a benefit if that Public Adjuster is qualified and has then knowledge and integrity to get the job done.  Unfortunately, many of the Public Adjusters in the Chicago Land area are not qualified, and do not have the knowledge.

IS A PUBLIC ADJUSTER’S FEE COVERED IN MY INSURANCE POLICY?

No.  Insurance policies do not cover the fees of a public adjuster. However, a good Public adjuster will earn his fee in the recovery he makes by increasing the claim.

HOW DOES A PUBLIC ADJUSTER GET PAID?

You must pay for the services provided by a public adjuster.  Typically, public adjuster’s charge a fee equal to a certain percentage of the claim paid by your insurance company.

ARE PUBLIC ADJUSTER FEES NEGOTIABLE?

Yes.  All fees charged by the public adjuster can and should be negotiated.

WHO WILL MY INSURANCE COMPANY WORK WITH AFTER I HIRE A PUBLIC ADJUSTER?

Once you sign a contract with a public adjuster, the public adjuster will notify your insurance company, who will then send all correspondence, including your claim check, to your public adjuster.  You should ask the public adjuster to routinely update you on the progress of your claim.  An honest and qualified public adjuster always keeps his client advised of the status of the pending claims.

 DO I HAVE TO SIGN A CONTRACT WITH A PUBLIC ADJUSTER?

Yes.  Illinois law requires the public adjuster to provide you with a written contract that specifies the services the public adjuster will provide for you and any salary, fee, commission, compensation or other consideration he or she will receive for those services.  The contract you sign with the public adjuster is binding and can only be canceled by certified mail within 5 business days after the date the contract was signed.

ARE THERE RESTRICTIONS ON WHEN A PUBLIC ADJUSTER CAN SOLICIT ME?

Yes.  A public adjuster cannot solicit you while a “loss-producing occurrence,” such as a fire, is continuing or while the fire department or its representatives are engaged at your property.  A public adjuster is also prohibited from soliciting your business between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.  If a public adjuster approaches you during these times you should report him or her to the Department.  If you have been approached by a Public Adjuster during these illegal hours do not sign a contract with them and immediately report them to the Illinois Department of Insurance.

Call Consumer Services Section at (312) 814-2427 or Consumer Assistance Hotline Toll Free at (866) 445-5364 Or visit website at http://insurance.illinois.gov

ARE THERE STANDARDS OF CONDUCT THAT A PUBLIC ADJUSTER MUST FOLLOW?

Yes.  A public adjuster is required to serve with objectivity and complete loyalty for your interests alone and to render to you such information, counsel, and service as will best serve your insurance claim needs and interests.

DOES A PUBLIC ADJUSTER HAVE TO BE LICENSED?

Yes.  Illinois law
requires public adjusters to be licensed with the Department of Insurance. Contact the Department at (866) 445-5364 to verify that the public adjuster is licensed and in good standing before signing any contract. Make sure you see a proper License. Also ask if they passed the Public Adjusters Exam.  Some have not and still were granted a License. Check to see if they have ever been charged with a crime.

WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION?

Useful information on insurance coverage and how to handle the insurance claims process can be found in the Illinois Department of Insurance’s consumer fact sheet entitled “When Disaster Strikes – What to do After an Insured Homeowners Loss.”  The fact sheet can be found on the Department’s website, http://www.insurance.illinois.gov, or by clicking here.  A list of agencies and organizations available to help ease the burdens caused by a major disaster can be found on our website or by clicking here.  Harris Claims Services has posted videos on the internet and information can be found at the web page.   www.HarrisClaimsServices.com

847-329-8444

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Filed under Claims Attorney, Insurance Company Adjuster, Public Adjuster, Uncategorized

THREE TYPES OF CLAIMS ADJUSTERS – THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY

 IN THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY THERE ARE THREE TYPES OF INSURANCE ADJUSTERS WHO HANDLE INSURANCE CLAIMS AFTER A FIRE, FLOOD, WIND OR DISASTER RELATED LOSS

 

In the insurance there are three types of Adjusters.  Some may think of them as the “The Good, the Bad and The Ugly” Clint Eastwood fans of course are smiling here.

The reality in the insurance industry is, well not exactly that, but can at times be close.  Let me explain and provide an understanding of what occurs after you buy your insurance.

When you purchase your insurance, it similar to buying a Car.  You meet with the salesman and negotiate a deal.  In the insurance Industry you meet your agent and discuss premiums, coverages and believe all is good.  Or so you think.  You do not discuss how the coverage applies. What is hold back depreciation?  Why payment is made in parts? Why you are not fully protected?   In other words there is really no discussion on how the claims process will work in the event of a loss.

When you need service on your car, you do not go back and visit the salesman for the repairs.  You go to the repair and service department where you are met with what is usually bad news on the cost of the repairs.  Similarly in the insurance adjusting industry, when you have a claim, your agent is relatively not involved and in fact has little to no control over the eventual settlement of the claim. He or she merely calls in the claim.  The adjuster from the insurance company like the repair man oversees and evaluates claim payments.

Attorney and Public Adjuster

Now let’s address the three types of Adjusters.  The first type of Adjuster are those which the public is commonly familiar with and are portrayed in all the commercials and advertising as being “a good neighbor” or “the good hands people” or “there on your side”   These are the “company Adjusters”.  Who are they really obligated to? Who pays their salary and holiday bonus based on work performance?  Simple.  They are adjusters who work for, represent and are obligated to the insurance company.  They are “Company Adjusters”. They are direct employees of the insurance company.

The Second type of Adjuster is similar to the “company adjuster” with one little difference.  They are for, lack of better words” hired guns” to represent the insurance company interests.  They are known as “Independent Adjusters” They make their living on how well they perform for the insurance company – the party who hired them.  Their obligations and loyalty is strictly to the insurance company, not the victim – the insured who has suffered the loss, and has been damaged and displaced from his or her home or business.  The “independent Adjuster” is brought in by the insurance company.  The independent Adjuster answers to the insurance company NOT the insured – the property owner.

Interestingly in most states, the “Company Adjuster” and “the Independent Adjuster” who are controlled by the insurance company do NOT even have to be licensed or required to pass an examine to conduct the business of insurance adjusting for the insurance company.  The amount of training and knowledge these two types of adjuster possess may at times be frustrating and highly questionable, especially on large complicated losses.

The Third Type of Adjuster, one which represents the interest of the victim, the insured only and not the insurance company is a “Public Adjuster”.  Some times referred to as a private adjuster or PA.   Public Adjusters are licensed, tested and bonded to act on behalf of the property owner.  Yes, they have to pass an examine and meet other standards which the other two categories of Adjusters do not.

The Public Adjuster only represents the property owner in the claim against the insurance company.  They are the watchdogs of the industry.  The Job of a Public Adjuster is to maximize claim benefits for the property owners – the clients.  They do it on a daily basis.  Harris Claims Services has been doing exactly that for over 20 years.

Truth about insurance claims adjusting

Now what happens after a loss occurs..

An Adjuster from the insurance company is assigned to handle the claim.  The Independent or Company Adjuster – each one – represents the insurance company and has a fiduciary responsibility to protect the best interest of the company, while at the same time agreeing on a loss payment solution. They do not represent the interests of the insured – the one who suffered the loss.

As with any business enterprises Insurance companies, by any legal means, are constantly on the lookout for cost saving strategies to reduce the claims and payments.  Their adjusters are constantly trained and evaluated on their use of such strategies.  They employee strategies such as – “you must use one of our vendors”  or  the “you can’t buy that at Best Buy you have to buy it online” or “ it’s not covered under the policy” or “it was a small fire it really does not smell we can just wipe down the soot” or “we don’t pay for a claim when the house is vacant for over 30 days”.  There are many more examples of such but that is for a separate article for another day.

In my 20 years as an Adjuster and also as an Attorney, working on both sides of the fence, I have met very fine and knowledgeable adjusters who represent insurance companies.  I am friends with many of these individuals.  We, even as friends understand, persons working for the insurance companies have a job to do. Keep the loss and payments low.  Where on the other side, we all understand the job of the Public Adjuster, like an Attorney is to represent the interest of the insured to the best of his ability and therefore maximize the claim. All sides act in a professional manner and seek to perform their job responsibilities.  Interestingly, many adjusters working for insurance companies appreciate a well-qualified Public Adjuster.  They know and understand that they are confronted with an individual working on behalf of the owner who has the knowledge and expertise to negotiate and get the claims settled.  This is not to say ever loss is simply a matter of crunching numbers.

Get More Back from your Claim

One problem which occurs is what could be referred to as the “Power House” company adjuster.  This is the Company or Independent Adjuster who believes they are almost god like and their decision is final.  These bad eggs can really be problematic.   They are a problem and a nightmare for the property owner.  They are bullies and until someone stands up to them, bullies never change.  In such a situation, the property owner should give very strong consideration to qualified public adjuster who is knowledgeable in all aspects of the claims and perhaps the laws of the state. These type of adjusters usually do not back down unless threatened with information which has some type of legal backing.  Sometimes appraisal in such a situation is required in order to remove this type of adjuster from controlling the loss.

Then there is the issue of insurance company adjusters who are simply overworked and underpaid.  Due to the stress of their jobs, a huge percentage of company adjusters only stay in the field between one and five years.  Turnover is high.  Some are good, some are bad and many don’t have enough experience or training to evaluate a large loss.  This is another situation where a qualified public adjuster can help and give a proper review and adjustment of the claim.

When a loss occurs which you believe may be over $10,000.00 give serious consideration to hiring a Licensed and Bonded Public Insurance Adjusters.  They can handle all aspects of the claim process. In many instances your agent and the insurance company’s adjuster will tell you almost anything to get you to cancel your contract with a Public Insurance Adjuster.  Why?  Because Public Adjusters Statistically recover more money on claims where they are used as opposed to when an insured try’s to settle the claims themselves.   Insurance Adjusters and Agents have even threatened my clients.  For example, advising them that they will cancel their insurance policy if they don’t cancel the Public Adjusters contract.  Such a statement should be the first indication that you made the right choice in hiring a Public Adjuster.  Insurance Agents usually do not like to see large losses occur on policies they have written.  They are reviewed by the insurance company and the insurance company then may question what types of properties they are insuring.  Ask an insurance agent about a Profit – loss ratio and see if they can explain it.  It is not a good thing for a direct agent to suffer a lot of losses.

Insurance Claims Adjuster Chicago

When hiring a Public Insurance Adjuster you are signing a legally binding contract which is enforceable under the laws of your state.  Most states allow for ten-day cancellation period.  In other words, you have ten days to see how a public adjuster works and owe nothing.  The peace of mind a public adjuster brings to the insured is hard to describe.  Many have stated to me, “I felt the weight off the world on my shoulders until I hired you. ”.  “Thank God you were there”.  “ I never knew you guys existed” “how do insurance companies get away with this”  This list goes on.

An insurance claim payment can be increased 20% to 50% by a competent Public Insurance Adjuster.  Many Public Adjusters charge 10% of the total loss as their fee for this service.

In conclusion, at a minimum, the insured –property owner should give consideration to a meeting with a Public Adjuster.  As stated above there is usually no charge, and as we like to say, knowledge is power, power is leverage, and leverage will get you what you are entitled to.

Best of luck to you.

The Harris Advantage

JASON HARRIS has over twenty years of experience as an attorney in the insurance litigation industry.  He is also a licensed, tested and bonded public Insurance Adjuster in Illinois.  His companies, Harris Claims Services and others have assisted insured throughout Illinois and the Country.  There is absolutely no obligation and welcomes the opportunity to discuss claims with properly owners. Any one suffering a loss is urged to check with their  state’s department of insurance to make sure the party they are speaking to is licensed tested and bonded as public adjuster.  They can be reached at 847-329-8444 or visit them on the web at  www.HarrisClaimsServices.com.

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Filed under Claims Attorney, Insurance Company Adjuster, Public Adjuster, Types of Claims Adjusters