The unfortunate slippery slope, I wasn’t sure how to discuss the subject without being viewed as a lawyer hater. Honestly, I’m a fact-finder only, but sometimes you have to call it as you see it.
Now I strongly believe that insurance companies have to rely on their hired help. However, you have to ask the question “Who’s training their supervisors, inside file handlers and adjusters? And further who authorizes or oversees their training?” Too many times insurance staff presumes the worst of their policy and treats us poorly.
Amazingly enough, it’s harder to secure a public adjuster’s license than it is to be a staff or independent adjuster. “Public adjuster” meaning an adjuster limited to working for the property owners, not the insurance companies. In the state of Louisiana, a public adjuster has to have its clients sign a disclosure outlining the three types of adjusters and who pays for those distinguished adjuster types.
I believe it’s designed to scare prospective constituents to shy away from using one. What I find extremely odd is insurance companies are not required to inform their insured’s of such an option. In any event, you have to question who’s really running the show? Sadly it boils down to lawyers, even the best efforts of a public adjuster can’t force your insurance companies to do anything. Many times insurers still refuse to pay on claims, leaving property owners frustrated, breaking the spirits of those who challenge them. I will say that not all claims take a wrong turn. Most claims are just overwhelming for both the insured and the insurer and its easier to make a quick decision, even when it’s wrong. The use of your own adjuster (if he or she is qualified) simply means you’ll have correctly documented and followed duties you’re obligated to under the policy. It doesn’t guarantee prompt payment nor does it guarantee anything!
Most insurance companies will respect a well-documented file and will most likely pay it. Reputation can be everything in this business. Its been relayed to me that my reputation is “one who fights on the facts highlighting the details and one to fight to the death”. Over time an individual will repeatedly encounter the same adjuster if you’re dealing with local talent. This can help or hurt you. But if they suspect you or your assistant (GC/PA) is deceitful or misleading they can delay your settlement substantially if not just declare an outright denial. It’s important that the public adjuster or contractor you end up with is honorable; it really helps.
Insurance companies often will research who it is the property owner has decided to go with. If you failed to research the person you enter into a contract with, they won’t. If you have gotten to the point you’re confident in whom you hired and he or she has satisfied you in their explanation of the plan crafted for your recovery and you still find yourself not made whole by your insurer its time to consider a lawyer. I know what you’re thinking “REALY?” Yes, ‘Really! Hopefully, you’ve found favor with God and successfully recovered your monetary compensation for your loss, but if not this is where more research and caution should be placed on the lawyer your considering. Know this the kind of law this arena is known as in Property & Causality or PC. Also, know that when you’re faced with suing your insurance company every state has its own laws surrounding poor behavior. It’s almost certain if your claim has not progressed even after getting the professional help that the problem may not be your help or you; you could be insured by one of the big boys who have documented behavioral issues and your just one of many. It’s likely if you find yourself in that circumstance you and your lawyer should know that background checks will be done on the lawyer or firm you engage. Your insurer will know how many lawyers, secretaries, paralegals, etc. are in the firm. They will find out if your lawyer is a litigator or settler. Most lawyers have a reputation one way or the other. The insurer will see if the firm or lawyer takes cases to court and tries them and if so how many he’s won. I believe it’s crucial that all the players in your game be hard-core. In some states, you can collect attorney fees, penalties, interest along with principle if you’re successful in your suit. The alternative is that your lawyer is more interested in a settlement, which in most cases is a cop-out. It’s rare to see an insurer agree to pay lawyer fees with an “out of court settlement”, and I’ve never heard of anyone recovering penalties and interest without a trial. Obviously this advice is broad and many times the facts of the case may not stand the scrutiny of a trial. But more times than not the lawyer is interested in how your claim can benefit him and trial can be costly and take time. A good lawyer will have a team of experts ranging from engineers, thermal imaging technicians, mold remediators, contractors, and public adjuster. Be careful not to be lured into a contract because of a slick tonged lawyer in a fancy building. In most cases, it best to find a good public adjuster who deals exclusively with property-casualty claims to help establish your claim. Most Public adjusters or contractors who deal with insurance claims will also have a team of experts. I always recommend the use of a public adjuster for a review of the overall claim and then if warranted the retention of one. Only after the file has been documented and refused should you add to your team the lawyer as the absolute last resort. Lawyers are certainly the most expensive option and by far the longest road to the finish line. And beware of the lawyer who claims to handle these kinds of matters, the last thing you want is to have to sue your own lawyer for malpractice for wrecking your claim. The laws surrounding property & casualty is unique to the issues of property, just because a lawyer has dealt with a car accident doesn’t mean he’ll know what to do in a P&C case. Make sure the lawyer uses a PA.
Know that insurance companies’ new business modal is a gamble that you’ll accept anything. Only a small amount of people contest their decision. If you do contest their offer it’s likely you might be forced to use a lawyer. Most lawyers don’t want to work hard more than they want to pay their bills like anyone else. Its fact that the insurance industry understands the phycology of a claim and will make your claim difficult in hopes you’ll just give up. For those few that are willing to go all the way, you will see larger settlements. Insurance companies historically don’t do well in a courtroom. They won’t admit that of course but the records dictate differently. If you’ve been honest you should be steadfast in your demands and buckle in for the ride. Don’t be in a hurry and envision yourself fully compensated; it can happen.
Its only advice people, do as you will.