By Alex Cruz – Public Adjuster and Former Insurance Company Executive – Guest Blogger
One hopes never to have a catastrophic loss, but if you do, you should feel comforted that you have purchased property insurance to cover your home or business. That feeling can quickly dissipate once you start the claims process. First you are in a state of shock over the events of your loss, be it fire, water, collapse, theft – then you are enraged by the actions of the insurance company.
The first thing you must realize when dealing with an insurance company is that this is a business. They are a for profit entity and their interest may not always align with yours. They promised to pay in the event of a loss and they typically will but the burden of proof is on you. You have to prove what was damaged or lost as a result of a “covered” loss. Yes they will send an adjuster to inspect and investigate the loss. The adjuster applies coverage and assess the damages.
The next thing you should know is that the adjuster will look for reasons not to pay your claim. Did I mention the insurance company is a for profit company and not paying claims is a good way to maximize profits. They will also look for ways to minimize the damages for the same reason.
So what should you do?
First thing to do sounds easy yet is rarely done – take photos of your property – every room, every wall, floors and ceiling. Take photos of all your stuff, stereo, TVs, couch, bed, closets, art, jewelry, china, everything. Don’t forget to take exterior photos as well, every side, if you can the roof, and the yard garage, everything. You then want to save these images in a place that you can get to them in the event of a total loss. Digital images can be saved on flash drives, the cloud, or backup disk and stored away from the property.
You also want to document your personal property such as the make and model of your refrigerator, oven, stove, microwave, washing machine, washer/dryer, water heater boiler, etc… indicate when purchased or how old. Save the receipts you have – digitally if you can and keep that with your photos.
Lastly go over the property with your insurance agent and make sure you are properly covered. There are many limitations in a standard policy and if you have accumulated stuff over the years you may not be adequately covered and after the a loss is not the time to find out that the antique china given to you by your grandmother isn’t properly covered or your jewelry and art have limits that are less than what it will cost to replace.
By doing these simple things you will save yourself the aggravation when asked by your adjuster to prove your loss. There is nothing more frustrating than being told by an adjuster “that looks like old damage” then not being able to prove it or your house is in ashes but you need to prove what you had in it before they can issue payment.
As a former insurance company executive, I can assure you that taking the time to do these things will help you. The claims process is tedious and can be long and grueling. Being prepared is the best way to get through it. You can also consider hiring an advocate to help you through the process. A Public Adjuster is the only type of adjuster focused on your interest not the insurance company.
If you are considering a public adjuster to help you prepare before the loss or assist you with your claim please call us with any question you may have or go to our website. www.ANMClaims.com
Alex Cruz/ ANM Claims/ www.ANMClaims.com/ 516-218-3999