DID SEVERE DAMAGE OCCUR TO YOUR PROPERTY? DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO?
1) Document the EvidencePhotograph, video tape, and document anything you feel may be important in negotiating a settlement from your insurance company. Be aware that insurance companies won't always view your claim the same way you do, and be prepared to fight. Below is an excerpt from a Wall Street Journal article titled “Why Insurance Mediators Help When Disaster Strikes,” written by Terri Cullen.
In the wake of a disaster, homeowners' natural response is to grab their policy and call their insurance agent pronto. But spend a few moments perusing consumer Web sites like Allstateinsurancesucks.com and StateFarmSucks.com(are you noticing a trend here?) and you'll quickly see that plenty of homeowners who have gone that route have lived to regret it.
“The reason? Most homeowners, it turns out, have only a vague idea of what their homeowners insurance actually covers. Once a claim is filed, the insurance company will send over an independent adjuster to evaluate the claim. But these independent adjusters aren't so independent. Their job is to represent the insurance company's interests first, and yours second. After all, the insurance company is paying the independent adjuster.”
2) Seek Third Party AssistanceProfessional Public Adjusters who are licensed by the State of Pennsylvania can negotiate your claim to make sure you get receive the settlement you are entitled to. The same Wall Street Journal article continues to explain why hiring a Public Adjuster is often a necessary step in getting the maximum settlement:
“When a customer files a claim it's not uncommon for independent adjuster to tell the homeowner that certain claims aren't valid due to certain clauses or omissions in their insurance coverage. And homeowners, already distraught due to the disaster, don't have the desire to argue with the insurance company representatives' estimate of their loss.
“So when disaster strikes, it may very well be worth hiring a professional public adjuster as your advocate in an insurance claim. These adjusters specialize in combing over your damaged property and your homeowners policy, and they make sure the insurer doesn't snake away from a valid claim. Public adjusters many times are veteran insurance company claims adjusters who know how insurance companies operate and have expertise in negotiating property claims to make sure you get the most out of your policy.”