How To Survive Big Property Claims

Advice for large claims where you are working with your insurance company – usually property claims – fire, wind, flood…

Document every action you take and every discussion you have. Confirm all phone conversations with your agent or the adjuster by email. CC the agent on all emails to the adjuster. CC the adjuster on emails to the agent. Insist on setting time goals and next steps – always in writing.

At the start of the claim, ask the adjuster what stages he sees. How does he see this moving forward? You are setting expectations.

Remember that every claim adjustment is a negotiation. Everything is on the table. Be professional at all times. Realize that every conversation is a part of the negotiation.

Insist on prompt return calls and adherence to time-frames. Be professional, but a hard-ass.

All adjusters think they are overworked. (Many are.) They have a pile on their desk. Your objective is to be always on the top of the pile.

The moment your adjuster is unprofessional or adversarial, go to the supervisor. I often establish a relationship with the supervisor at the start of negotiations. “I know that I’m going to work with Bill on this. I just wanted to know who is on the team.” Easier to do at the onset than when things go south.

An attorney is an important tool. However, when lawyers get involved in the minutia, things slow to a crawl.

Public Adjusters also have their place. (An adjuster hired by the insured and paid a percentage of the claim.) However, most insurance companies hate PAs. Claims always seem to bog down when a PA comes on the claim. Dont hire one unless things seem to go south. (Obviously most PAs disagree with me on this.)

Have frequent conversations with your agent to let him know what is happening. He may have info that has not been passed on to you.

Have your agent explain the part of the policy that is in play. Often there is coverage for extra living expenses, extra expenses, and on business policies, loss of income. If the agent or the adjuster tells you about expenses that are not covered, ask if coverage was available and if it was offered to you. Document.

Be prepared for a tough slog. Ninety percent of the time, it all works out. Even the best of claims has problems, hassles, misunderstandings, and mistakes.