Ever wonder what happens to all that home insurance money you pay every year? You might, if you ever had to file a claim.
Claims, to an insurance company, are like operating costs – they are meant to be minimized. Let me give you an example. Let’s say that you have a leak that damages a part of your siding. You call your insurance company and they send out an adjuster who recommends that the wall be patched. But you can’t find the exact color match, which means the patch on your wall will be obvious. But an even larger problem is that the adjuster didn’t look to see if the damage went any further than your wall. So while you paid for a service that assures you that if your home is damaged, it will be returned to its original state, seldom is this the case.
So what is the answer?
The first step is to hire an independent public adjuster. While you will pay a little money up front – or a percentage of your claim depending on your agreement – that is actually to your advantage because a public adjuster will be working for you, whereas the insurance company’s adjuster is protecting the interests of the insurance company. So while the insurance company’s adjuster is paid to not look for further damage, a public adjuster is paid to find any and all damage. And if there is more damage than your first thought, you want to know about it because your insurance company is responsible to pay for it.
The second step is to recognize that a claims process is a negotiation. What the insurance initially offers you is not set in stone, and is essentially their lowball offer. When you take this offer and compare it to what a public adjuster or a licensed contractor tells you the repairs will cost, you will often find a pretty large disparity. But remember, you have every right to ask your insurance company to justify how they arrived at their figure. And you also have every right to expect that they will pay the true cost of repairs as reflected by an independent licensed contractor. As Jeanne Salvatore of the Insurance Information Institute notes, “You don’t need to know anything about home construction or materials pricing.”
All you need to know is that your insurance company is responsible to cover the full cost of repairs – not a minimized version of them.
This article is brought to you by ASAP Roofing, a national roofing company that specializes in hail damage, insurance restoration, and weatherization. ASAP has offices in Denver, Dallas, and Indianapolis.