Our Florida insurance claims law firm represents many clients involved in disputes with their insurance carrier. We also receive questions from policyholders who have suffered a loss to their business or home and want to know about their rights and the claims process. While many people wait until an actual dispute has occurred to retain an insurance claims professional, such as an insurer dragging its feet, denying a claim or providing a lowball offer, this is not necessarily the best practice. Our law firm frequently receives questions regarding the appropriate time to retain an insurance professional such as a public adjuster or insurance claims attorney. While it is not necessarily wrong to defer taking such a step until a dispute arises, there are a number of ways that an insurance professional can make the process go more smoothly if you retain the right help at the outset of the claims process.
An important justification for working with an experienced insurance claims professional from the outset of your claim is rooted in the quasi-adversarial nature of the insured-insurer relationship. Although the flashy commercials on television might claim that you are “in good hands,” the more appropriate description of the insured-insurer relationship might be “sleeping with the enemy.” While the insurance carrier is your paid service provider, your interests are directly opposed when you need to make a claim. The objective of a policyholder is to recover the full value of his or her loss, but the insurer wants to pay as little as possible or to deny the claim outright.
Another reason you should retain an experienced insurance claims professional during the initial phase of your claim is to promote a more efficient claims process. The insurer will send an adjuster to your home to inspect the property. The information gathered by the claims adjuster regarding the damage will be imputed into a computer program that will estimate the value of the claim. While many insurance claims professionals also use these types of programs, the software operates on a “garbage in garbage out” basis. The insurance adjuster is paid to minimize the amount of damage which is often accomplished by a less than thorough investigation. If damage is ignored during the inspection, the computer software will produce an estimate that severely understates the claim.
When the public adjuster is hired only after a claims dispute has occurred, the insurance company will have already produced an estimate that is far below the actual value of the claim. The subsequent estimate from the public adjuster probably will be far higher than the original estimate from the insurance company. If the public adjuster is present for the initial inspection, he or she can point out damage that the insurance adjuster might otherwise overlook. While the estimates generated by the insurance company and the public adjuster might still differ, the estimates are likely to be closer. This can reduce the need to file repeated supplemental claims and shorten the claims settlement process.
If you have questions about Florida property insurance claims, you are welcome to contact my Miami insurance claims dispute law firm. My law firm represents policyholders in claims disputes in Miami and throughout Florida. The Law Firm of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A. offers free consultations and case evaluations. No Recovery, No Lawyer Fees. Call 305-461-1095 or Toll Free 1-866-71-CLAIM.