If you live in Florida, you may have experienced sudden and catastrophic losses such as hurricanes, water damage and flooding. These events can cause damage to your property, and leave you in a position of possibly having to replace your roof, as well as repair damage to the interior of your home. The questions is … can you rely on your insurance company to cover all the damage?
During a recent conversation with my business partner Scott, we discussed the erosion of coverage that has gone on over the years. More recently, insurance companies have added endorsements into their policies that most policyholders may be unaware about.
Will this affect my coverage?
Whether it’s water damage or roof damage, repairs or replacement is typically covered in the dwelling coverage of your policy, providing the damage has been caused by a covered loss. I cannot stress enough that you need to make sure you understand and know what your policy covers, limits, or excludes.
Insurance companies are implementing Limited Matching Coverage Endorsements into their policies. Unbeknownst to many of our clients, when their policy was renewed, the renewal had the endorsement which reads:
Coverage A – Dwelling and Coverage B – Other Structures Limited Matching Sublimit
We will repair or replace undamaged property due to mismatch between undamaged material and new material in adjoining areas if repairs or replacement are reasonable according to items a. through c. below. In determining the extent of the repairs or replacement of items in adjoining areas, we will consider all relevant factors, including, but not limited to:
a. The cost and/or expense of repairing or replacing the undamaged portions of the property; and
b. The degree of uniformity of appearance that can be achieved without such cost and/or expense; and
c. The remaining useful life of the undamaged portions of the property.
The total Limited Matching Coverage is 1% of the Coverage A limit of liability for repairs or replacements of any undamaged part of the building or its components solely to match repairs made to damage as a result of a covered loss. This limit includes costs for tear out and debris removal.
This limit of liability does not increase the Coverage A or Coverage B limits of liability shown on the Declarations page, nor does it apply to damage otherwise limited or excluded in the policy.
What does this mean?
It means that you are paying higher insurance premiums for less coverage. These endorsements and limitations in your policy are detrimental and could cost you large sums of money for needed repairs should you have a claim for property damage. To add insult to injury, some policies have a $10,000 water damage limit which includes mitigation and mold coverage. So, no matter how much damage you sustain, your claim settlement would be limited to only $10,000 with this coverage.
What about my roof?
I previously wrote about the roof depreciation schedules that insurance companies have implemented. If you sustain damage to your roof and it needs replacement, the amount of coverage to your roof will be depreciated by the age of your roof. If you have a roof depreciation schedule in your policy, you will not be able to recover any of the depreciation that would be deducted, which could leave you with large out of pocket expenses to complete your repairs.
What can you do?
The bottom line is … make sure you understand and know the coverage in your insurance policy. Contact us today for a free policy review and learn how we can help.
Understandably, this is a very common question that I continuously receive from clients. Most people feel that it's their property and their mortgage company has no right to be named.
If a mortgage company is listed on your insurance claim check, it is because they have a financial interest in the property that was damaged and insured. Here is how it works:
When you purchase property and must take out a mortgage, the mortgage company provides you with the funds to buy the property. In return, they have a financial interest in the property until the mortgage is satisfied.
Mortgage companies require you to maintain property insurance on the property to protect both your interest and their interest. There is no exceptions and you must have adequate coverage.
Loss or Damage
If your property is damaged by fire, flood, hurricane, water damage or any other covered peril, you may need to file a property damage insurance claim to cover the cost of the repairs or replacement of the damaged property.
Insurance Claim Check
Once coverage on your claim is provided, the insurance company will issue a check. The check will usually be made out to the property owners and the mortgage company.
Mortgage Company Will Not Be On Check
If you sustain damage to your personal belongings or lose use of your property due to the damage, the mortgage company will not be names on these claim checks because they only have a financial interest in the building.
Endorsement by Mortgage Company
Since the mortgage company has a financial interest in the property, they want to ensure that the insurance claim payment is used to repair or replace the damaged property.
Every mortgage company handles property damage claims differently and have a their own process in place. Depending on the amount of the claim check, some companies will endorse the check and return it to you, while others may hold the check and issue payments in stages as the repairs are made.
Choose a Team You Can Trust
Settling insurance claims today is a complicated, and often, an overwhelming process especially when having to deal with your mortgage company. Allow us to give your claim our personal attention. Contact us to get started.
Preparing for a hurricane is crucial to ensure your safety and the safety of your loved ones. Hurricanes can be extremely destructive and bring high winds, heavy rain, storm surges, and flooding. Here's a quick step-by-step guide on how to prepare for a hurricane:
1. Stay Informed:
2. Create a Hurricane Emergency Kit:
3. Prepare Your Home:
4. Develop a Family Emergency Plan:
5. Evacuation Plan:
6. Stay Safe During the Storm:
7. After the Hurricane:
Remember that hurricane preparedness is a year-round effort. Stay informed, have a plan, and regularly update your emergency kit and family emergency plan. Being well-prepared can make a significant difference in your safety during a hurricane.
Imagine that your property was severely damaged by fire along with your personal belongings. You have just reported your claim to your insurance company.
The waiting game has begun. Although you are required to mitigate, there are certain inspections and investigations that must take place before doing so. Instead, mitigate the risks of handling a claim alone, and let a licensed insurance adjuster help you through the process and obtain the best results.
Public Adjusters are Advocates
After experiencing damage to your property, filing an insurance claim can be a daunting process for even the most seasoned property owner. From completing forms to dealing with insurance company representatives, the claims process can quickly become overwhelming.
Beyond this, it is important to remember that insurance companies are businesses, and their ultimate goal is to minimize your claim payment. A public adjuster is a policyholder advocate that can provide another perspective on the evaluation of damages and negotiate proper claim settlements.
It is crucial to engage a public adjuster early in the claims process so that they can start working on your claim immediately and assist you throughout the process.
Benefits of Hiring a Public Adjuster Instead of Waiting
An experienced public adjuster is qualified and licensed to represent policyholders with the insurance claims process. They have thorough knowledge and expertise of the industry and local laws, which helps them achieve the proper claim settlement for their clients.
Public adjusters also provide valuable support for policyholders. They document all the damage, provide a detailed estimate of damage, document and preparing a content inventory, and negotiate with your insurance company for the proper settlement of your claim. They can also assist by helping you find temporary housing. They will direct you about what to do, and sometimes even more importantly, what not to do throughout the process.
Increasing the Speed of Your Claim
Public adjusters work efficiently and effectively to expedite the claims process. They know how to navigate the complex and often confusing insurance industry and can make sure that you, as a policyholder, comply with all the conditions and timelines in your policy. This will help obtain your claim settlement sooner than if you tried to manage the claim alone.
The proficiency of a public adjuster in handling insurance claims is one of the key advantages of hiring one. They can translate all of the complicated insurance jargon involved in the handling an insurance claim.
Skilled Negotiators working on Your Behalf
Public adjusters are skilled negotiators that assist policyholders in obtaining the highest claim settlement possible. They provide proof to support the claim, and public adjusters know how to present the claim to the insurance company in a manner that is clear and concise. Their knowledge of insurance policies and industry claim practices will only help to maximize your claim settlement.
We Can Maximize Your Results
At Reliant Insurance Adjusters, we have knowledge and experience and can guide you through the entire claims process. From the initial inspections to the final settlement. We understand the stress and feelings of overwhelm that our clients have when they come to us, and we provide empathetic support as we work hard to get them what they deserve.
If you are dealing with a new or underpaid insurance claim and are ready for the help of a true advocate, contact our office today. We are your trusted insurance adjusters in South Florida, and we treat every client’s claim as if it is our own.
When dealing with property damage and filing an insurance claim, many policyholders are unsure whether to hire a Public Adjuster or an attorney to help them through the process.
While both professionals can provide valuable guidance and support, there are some key differences in roles and responsibilities. Understanding these distinctions and evaluating your specific needs can be the difference in helping you make the right choice for your insurance claim.
To provide you with a better understanding of the immense value an experienced Public Adjuster can provide, let’s discuss the benefits of first hiring a Public Adjuster as your professional advocate in the claims process.
What is a Public Adjuster?
A Public Adjuster acts as your advocate and helps you by supplying thorough estimates, pictures, and documentation to support your insurance claim and they are present for all inspections with insurance company. They are experts in the insurance claims process and work to ensure that you receive the maximum settlement amount for your claim.
The practice of insurance companies delaying, postponing, refusing, or attempting to settle claims for much less than they are worth are just a few of the reasons you should consider hiring a reputable Public Adjuster.
2 Top Benefits of Hiring a Public Adjuster First
#1 Expertise in the Insurance Claims Process
One of the main benefits of hiring a Public Adjuster is their experience and expertise in the insurance claims process. They understand the complex policies and procedures involved in filing a claim and can navigate the process efficiently.
Public Adjusters can interpret all the legalese used in working an insurance claim. A Public Adjuster will investigate and compile all losses including additional costs incurred as a result of any disruption to your home or business.
#2 Ability to Maximize Your Insurance Claim
Public Adjusters are skilled negotiators and can help policyholders receive the maximum settlement amount for their claim. They know how to present the claim to the insurance company and will provide detailed evidence to support the claim.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Public Adjuster
When choosing a Public Adjuster, it's important to consider their knowledge, experience, and credentials. Look for someone who has experience working on claims like yours, is licensed, bonded and insured in your state, and is transparent with their fees. Consider reading reviews or testimonials from previous clients to get a sense of their level of expertise and the service they provide.
Making the Right Choice for Your Insurance Claim
The bottom line is simple that, in most cases, you should hire a Public Adjuster before an attorney. You can get assistance from a Public Adjuster throughout the initial stages of your insurance claim and working with a Public Adjuster helps to ensure that you receive the settlement you deserve.
However, if your Public Adjuster and insurance company cannot agree on a fair settlement, there are typically three dispute resolution methods available - mediation, appraisal, or filing a lawsuit. Since attorneys deal with substantive and procedural law, they frequently settle conflicts through time-consuming and expensive litigation.
Partner with the Experts
At Reliant Insurance Adjusters, we have over 76 years of combined experience, and we handle each client's property damage claim as if it were our own. While other professionals might provide comparable services, Reliant is committed to giving you the knowledge and expertise for your residential or commercial claim.
Let us guide you through the claims process and provide you with the best outcome for your insurance claim. Contact us for a free consultation and policy review.
Do you know what a public adjuster does or what services to expect?
Simply stated, public adjusters are insurance experts. The key is that they provide insurance adjusting services working exclusively for policyholders. In the state of Florida, public adjusters are licensed and regulated by the state.
The insurance experts at Reliant Insurance Adjusters have decades of hands-on experience, not just in public adjusting, but also in insurance appraisals. They serve as appraisers and umpires for the binding dispute resolution option of appraisal.
What is an Appraisal?
A policy provision known as Appraisal can be found under the Loss Settlement section of your insurance policy. It is an alternative dispute resolution that can be used to settle disputes when the policyholder and carrier cannot agree on the amount of the loss. It serves as an alternative to a lawsuit. The appraisal process does not address coverage issues, but depending on the state, it may include or exclude items based on causation.
While most insurance policies can differ, most policies include language addressing dispute resolution.
Appraisal language in a typical HO3 policy may read as follows:
If you and we fail to agree on the amount of loss, either may demand an appraisal of the loss. In this event, each party will choose competent appraiser within 20 days after receiving a written request from the other. The two appraisers will choose an umpire. If they cannot agree upon an umpire within 15 days, you or we may request that the choice be made by a judge of a court of record in the state where the “residence premises” is located. The appraisers will separately set the amount of the loss. If the appraisers submit a written report of an agreement to us, the amount agreed upon will be the amount of loss. If they fail to agree, they will submit their differences to the umpire. A decision agreed to by any two will set the amount of loss.
The Responsibilities of an Appraiser
The appraisers of the insured and the insurance carrier will meet at the property, estimate the damage and attempt to reach an agreement on the amount of loss.
If they cannot reach an agreement, the appraisers will present their disagreements to the umpire. The amount of the loss will be determined by an itemized decision agreed upon by two of these three. This decision is legally binding.
The cost of umpire will be split evenly between each party, and each will be responsible to pay for their own appraiser.
The experts at Reliant Insurance Adjusters have successfully completed all their education requirements with the Insurance Appraisal & Umpire Association, Windstorm Insurance Network and Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters.
Choose a Team You Can Trust
Settling insurance claims is a complicated, and often, overwhelming process. Allow us to give your claim our personal attention, whether you need a public adjuster, appraiser, or umpire. Contact us to get started.
As previously discussed in my last blog, water damage is one of the most common claims made by property owners and causes losses in the billions of dollars in the United States each year.
There is no denying the strength of water in large amounts. However, most people don't understand that simply a few inches of water may inflict thousands of dollars in damage to a property. Given that, it is critical for property owners to be aware of the kinds of water hazards that are covered by their property insurance.
Since every insurance policy is unique, it is recommended that you carefully read your policy so that you are prepared when the worst occurs. The good news, when it comes to deciphering the details concerning water damage coverage, is that most policies are comparable.
Here is what you need to know about the various forms of water damage and what is generally covered by a typical property insurance policy.
Sudden and Accidental
As a general rule, only "sudden and accidental" water damage will be covered by your insurance policy. This may involve damage resulting from burst pipes or unintentional leaks, as well as from fire, storm, or roof leak damage. Other items typically covered include:
While the majority of property insurance policies cover unexpected or sudden water damage, it can be exceedingly challenging to get your losses covered for water damage that has occurred gradually.
Partnering with a reliable public adjuster can make all the difference in the outcome of your claim.
Common Causes of Covered Water Damage
Here are two of the most common causes of covered water damage.
#1 Water damage caused by burst pipes
Burst or broken pipes are one of the leading sources of water damage in properties, whether they are brought on by a break or whole in a pipe, clogs, increases in water pressure, or even frozen water. High water pressure can cause pipes to balloon and finally break, spewing water everywhere while causing damage to insulation, drywall, carpeting, and flooring in the process.
A standard property insurance policy will typically cover water damage caused by a burst pipe. However, damage brought on by a sewage backup and blocked drains is typically not covered. You can supplement your insurance with sewer backup coverage for total security against backup-related incidents.
#2 Water damage caused by a storm or extreme weather event
Your property insurance coverage likely covers water damage resulting from hail, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other weather-related calamities. For damage resulting from these occurrences, you can file a successful water damage insurance claim.
You could file a claim if strong winds cause damage to your roof and rain leaks in causing property damage. Some policies may have exclusions that the roof or exterior must first be damaged allowing the rain water to enter. So, if you want to file a claim for the damage, it's crucial to understand the limitations of your coverage.
Insurance Claims for Water Damage
If you sustain water damage, you should contact a reputable and licensed public adjuster to find out what you need do to prevent further damage and if you have enough damage to file an insurance claim.
It is important to take pictures of the damage as soon as you become aware, so that you have a record of when the damage occurred.
In order to ascertain whether your claim is covered, your insurance company will send an independent insurance adjuster, who works on behalf of the insurance company, to evaluate the damage. If you need to make temporary or urgent repairs prior the adjuster arriving, it is important to take pictures and save your receipts.
Your claim could be denied by your insurance company depending on the coverage, or lack thereof, in your policy. Claims are sometimes complex and stressful. You can hire a public adjuster as your advocate to make sure all your damage is well documented and all deadlines within your policy are met. This will assist in a more favorable outcome of your claim.
When damage happens, choose to work with trustworthy, experienced professionals such as our team at Reliant Insurance Adjusters. We have your best interests at heart and treat every client’s claim as if it were our own.
Water damage affects thousands of Florida property owners each year. Flooding from hurricanes or other natural disasters, broken pipes, backed-up sewer lines, and leaks in hoses, water heaters, and roofs are just a few of the numerous causes of water damage. At best, the resulting damage is a nuisance, and at its worst, it is devastating to the property owner.
Water Damage Limits
One of the most frequent reasons to file a property damage insurance claim is, in fact, water damage. Unexpected water damage may be both inconvenient and outright disastrous for property owners, but you can be prepared simply by understanding the limits of your water damage coverage in your insurance policy.
There are various forms of water damage and it’s important to learn what is and is not covered by a typical property insurance policy.
Understanding Policy Limitations
In order to avoid surprises, it is imperative to evaluate your policy and understand what is covered. Your insurance claim's outcome will be influenced by the cause of the damage, whether sudden or accidental, or gradual over a period of time.
More often than not, coverage extends to sudden water damage. However, many property damage claims only receive a partial claim payment because the insurance policy has a $10,000 limitation within the policy.
With this limitation, mitigation of your damage is also included. It may be challenging to make repairs to your property when the damage exceeds that amount, yet you are still required to prevent further damage by protecting your property.
Sudden or Accidental Damage
Typically, insurance policies specify that covered water damage must come from an internal or unanticipated occurrence.
Rising water entering your property from the exterior is considered flood and not covered under your property insurance policy. I encourage and urge you to make sure you have a separate flood insurance policy.
Examples of other Causes of Water Damage
Damage that occurs gradually over time is not covered by standard insurance policies. Because of the range of complex systems with hidden plumbing, electrical wiring, and other intricate parts inside property structures, it can be challenging to spot a problem.
Your insurance company may deny your claim if the damage appears to have been going on over a period of time, but some policies have wording to protect policyholders and allow coverage if the damage is hidden and unknown and not visible.
Examples of Gradual Causes of Water Damage
Wear, Tear, Deterioration and Mold
Unless specific wording is included in your policy as noted above, wear, tear and deterioration are not covered by most policies.
Although mold is caused by moisture, it’s important to speak with your insurance agent to determine whether your policy has mold coverage, and if not, you must add this important coverage.
The first step to filing a successful water damage insurance claim is understanding your coverage and the type of water damage your property is experiencing.
Hire a Public Adjuster to Help
Your insurance company may miss damage and underpay or deny your claim. A public adjuster can help by reviewing your policy and explaining what is and is not covered, and help you navigate the complicated claim process.
At Reliant Insurance Adjusters, we ensure your best interests are top priority and treat every client’s claim as if it were our own. Contact us today for more information.
There have been several bills filed in the House and Senate that would certainly weaken legislation meant to help consumers be treated fairly and honestly.
As our insurance premiums keep rising, we continue to be covered for less and less. As I wrote in my last blog post, how could this happen and where is the accountability? Why are insurance companies never held accountable for their bad behavior for delays and non-payment of covered claims?
I always thought that when we pay our insurance premiums, we would be covered should we sustain damage to our property. This is not happening and our legislators who were elected by us, to protect us, are not doing so. They are only protecting big insurance companies.
How is this Ethical?
A recent story was published in The Washington Post slamming insurance companies for slashing Hurricane Ian payouts far below damage estimates when their own adjusters wrote larger estimates. One adjuster said his stomach dropped when he saw his estimate drastically whittled down with entire portions removed. See news story by NBC2.
As a true consumer advocate, I have witnessed this unconscionable behavior by insurance companies when they remove covered damages the field adjuster and I agree is damaged.
Last week, news media exploded when our former President came out against Gov. DeSantis for the “Worst Insurance Scam in the Entire Country by bailing out insurance companies and leaving Florida homeowners not able to repair their damaged homes”. Sadly, he is not wrong.
Published reports state that Gov. DeSantis received more than $3 million dollars in donations from Insurance company executives and agents. CFO Patronis, who regulates these same companies, received almost $2 million.
It is also truly mind boggling to me how our legislators are not standing up for consumer rights but are, instead, trying to remove your rights.
More Protections Taken Away
In a special session called by Gov. DeSantis in December 2022, a very important protection in place for countless years was taken away from every consumer in Florida.
If you had a dispute with your insurance company and they did not pay enough for your damage and they delayed or denied your claim, you had the option to file a lawsuit against them, and your attorney fees would be covered by the carrier. Not any longer.
Even while insurance company executives were taking big bonuses and collecting large salaries, they were also delaying, underpaying, and denying valid claims, and complaining to legislators that attorneys and public adjusters are the root of the problem and that they are losing money.
Legislators Can Right The Wrong
Big insurance companies want to blame everyone for their losses, yet they never point the finger at themselves for their poor claims management, claim delays and nonpayment of covered insurance claims.
Florida legislators can do something about it by holding insurance companies accountable and stop ignoring their bad behavior and how poorly they treat consumers. They should give back the consumer protections we have lost and start protecting us the way they used to.
Protect Your Rights
The bills filed contain more restrictions that will limit your access to help if you choose to get help. This should be your choice, not the choice of legislators or big insurance companies. Your voice matters - call your legislators today in opposition of HB 1185 and SB 1398. Click here to locate your legislator.
We are all consumers, we pay our insurance and we expect that the legislators that were elected by us, their constituents, would protect us and not big insurance! This is not happening, and anti-consumer bills HB 1185 & SB 1398 filed last week are far from protecting consumers.
Our insurance premiums continue to increase year after year, but our coverage keeps eroding, and we are covered for less and less. Big insurance companies want to blame everyone for their losses, yet they never point the finger at themselves for their poor claims management, claim delays and nonpayment of covered insurance claims.
What Is Going On?
Legislators want to take more of your rights away should you have a property damage insurance claim and want to restrict your ability to get help when you need it most. From the language in these bills, I believe they expect you to determine and document all your damages in critical times without the help of a public adjuster. Shouldn’t that be your choice and not theirs? Could you imagine having to get on your own roof and prove it was damaged?
Why Is This Allowed?
Yesterday, I called all our legislators and left messages asking them to oppose these bills and explained a current claim where my elderly client sustained tornado damage to her property and needed my help throughout the claim process. Her roof is irreparable, the damage is extensive, and the tile is no longer available amongst other damages to her home.
We provided the insurance company with a full report from a local contractor with proof confirming this and demanded they pay to replace her roof. Although the insurance company asked for this report, they continued to ignore the findings and requested additional roof inspections by local roofers.
Due to the continued delays and additional inspections, which confirmed what we had already confirmed, her insurance company went out of business before a payment for the roof replacement could be issued. However, during the process of delaying and underpaying their policyholder’s claims, the insurance company executives still received exorbitant bonuses all while under the watchful eye of the Office of Insurance Regulation. How could this happen?
Why aren’t insurance companies held accountable for their bad behavior? Why are the numerous consumer complaints filed with leadership being ignored? After all, our very own CFO said on television he would help, call him first. Yet, there is no help because they are tragically understaffed, nor will they get on your roof or fight with your insurance company on your behalf. Time and time again we see there is no action against insurance companies – proof as my above client’s complaint still has gone unanswered.
There have been very minimal complaints about public adjusters, I can count them on one hand, in comparison to the numerous complaints against insurance companies.
Protect Your Rights
Public Adjusters in Florida are already highly regulated more than any other state. These bills contain more restrictions that will limit your access to help if you choose to get help.
As consumers, small business owners, and true consumer advocates for 17 years, we have always put our client's needs before our own. We work tirelessly to prepare and submit claim packages, conduct all inspections with your insurance company and negotiate fair and proper claim settlements for you, our clients.
What Can You Do?
The time is now, we need your help. Please contact our legislators in opposition to these bills. Just click the link below to access their contact information.
If you have any questions about these bills, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss them with you.