Q: What is a property claim?

A: A property claim is any damage that occurs to your home or business, and is covered under your insurance policy. For example: Water, Fire or Smoke damage, Broken or Blocked plumbing lines, Burglary or Theft, Wind or Hail damage, etc. Typically, when damage occurs to a home or business, the homeowner or business owner would call their insurance company (much like car owners do when they get into an accident). The Insurance Company will create a claim and dispatch an adjuster to the home or business.

Q: What is an “Adjuster”?

A: There are three types of adjusters.

Company Adjuster or Staff Adjuster: This adjuster works directly for the Insurance Company (like a State Farm adjuster). They are loyal to the companies that hire them and their objective is to protect the insurance company’s bottom line by paing the minimum settlement amount possible on every claim.

Independent Adjuster: This adjuster usually works for several insurance companies. During catastrophes, like the massive hail storm we had here in Arizona in October of 2010, insurance companies usually do not have enough of their own personnel (staff adjusters) to handle all the work, so they use ‘Independent Adjusters’ to help out (almost like hiring sub-contractors). In either case, both of these insurance adjusters represent the insurance companies that pay them, and they ALWAYS look after the insurance company’s best interests.

Public Adjuster: There is a third adjuster, but this one works for the public, not for the insurance company. This Adjuster is referred to as a “Public Adjuster,” sometimes referred to as “Private Adjusters”. The Public Adjuster will file your claim, work directly with your Insurance Company’s adjuster, and ultimately see to it that you get every penny you are entitled to receive for your damages. Although there is a fee associated with hiring a Public Adjuster, you usually get much more than the insurance company would offer, plus you won’t have the hassle of dealing with the claim process. For their services, Public Adjusters receive a percentage of the money they collect on your behalf, and this percentage may vary slightly with different companies.

Q: I don’t understand what a Public Adjuster can do for me that I can’t do myself.

A: Your insurance policy is a contract. It imposes very specific obligations on you as the policyholder and also on your insurance company as the insurer. The most important of these is the fact that, in order to get your insurance company to pay you a single dime, you have to prove your claim to them.

Not many people take the time to read their entire insurance policy, and once they do, realize there is a significant learning curve. Then there are an infinite number of details to be attended to (building estimates, content spreadsheets, loss-of-use receipts, business interruption calculations) that can make it difficult to focus on rebuilding your home or getting your business back up and running. While all of this is happening, your insurance company is making monetary decisions on your behalf.

If you try to do this yourself, you may as well face it: you are going to have to change professions and become a professional claims adjuster. You’ll have to become an expert in pricing everything from roofing nails to original artwork, and you will have to develop organizational and negotiating skills miles beyond any you have ever had to use in the past.

We take care of all of these issues and details so you can concentrate on rebuilding your home or continuing business operations. So, the answer is yes, you can deal with the claim on your own. But considering that, in many cases, this will become your full-time job for months to come, sometimes even years – it’s well worth it to have a Public Adjuster representing your interests in the claim. Having us on your side helps level the playing field and keeps you from having to play David to your insurance company’s Goliath.

Q: The insurance company’s adjuster seems very knowledgeable about the claims process. Why should I be concerned about him misleading me?

A: It’s usually not so much a question of a company adjuster deliberately trying to mislead you, as it is a matter of him expecting you to already know how to do everything required to convince him (and his employer – your insurance company) that they ought to pay you for what you say you have lost. You always need to bear in mind that insurance companies are profit-making businesses, and to keep their bottom line as healthy as possible, they usually try not to pay out any more than the bare minimum on as many claims as possible.

That is why you need to talk to one of us at Property Claim Adjusters: we are Public Adjusters, which means we are licensed to represent and assist you, as a member of the public, in the intricacies of documenting, presenting, and negotiating with the company’s representatives, to make sure you achieve not only what you deserve but also what you have faithfully been paying your premiums for: the maximum amount your coverage entitles you to.

Q: If I work directly with the insurance company’s adjuster, won’t I get the same results?

A: Our experience tells us this is unlikely. Insurance Company adjusters work for, report to, and are paid by, the insurance company. Insurance companies are businesses and, like all businesses, they look after their bottom line. We find that often times they opt to repair items, when replacement is needed. The average policyholder working alone with an insurance adjuster is like an average person trying a court case without a lawyer who knows every law. Policyholders need equal representation.

Insurance companies hire and train their adjusters to MINIMIZE your loss. How likely is it that a person will get the maximum settlement to which he is entitled by using the insurance companies’ own adjusters? Do not be misled.

The insurance company will try to minimize your loss utilizing several misleading tactics. They can try to convince you to repair the damage rather than replace it. They can “overlook” some damage knowing that the burden of proof is on the insured, not themselves. They can estimate the repair cost at a much lower rate than it will actually cost. It is simply too easy to underestimate the true cost of the repair by yourself. They can agree to replace only the damaged portion although it won’t quite match the rest of the house. You are entitled to repair or replace the damage to a pre-damaged condition – you don’t pay those premiums for a patch up job. They can deny coverage because of an inadvertent slip of the tongue. Most people won’t argue with their insurance company. Most people don’t even know that they are being misled. That is why you need a public adjuster.

Q. I still don’t see why I need a Public Adjuster – I already have an Independent Adjuster working on my claim. He ‘s not employed by my insurance company.

A: Many consumers get these two types of adjusters confused. The word “independent” means that an adjuster is licensed to represent more than one insurance company. But he does represent only insurance companies and not the policyholder: his income/commissions are paid by the companies he represents, and that is where his loyalty must lie. On the other hand, a Public Adjuster, like Property Claim Adjusters, is licensed to represent an individual like you who has purchased a policy from an insurance company. You as the consumer are part of the Public, and the only adjuster who can actually represent the Public is the one with the word public in his title: PUBLIC ADJUSTER.

Q: Why should I hire a Public Adjuster instead of getting help from my insurance agent or my lawyer?

A: Following a loss from a house fire or other disaster, people often turn to their insurance agent and possibly their lawyer for help. While they may be informed and educated in their area of expertise, these professionals most likely do not have expertise as insurance claim advocates.

Your insurance agent writes your policy. Their job is to make sure you have all the proper coverages in place at the time of a loss from a House Fire or other disaster. Once they report your loss to the insurance company, they are out of the picture. Then the insurance company assigns an adjuster, who works for them, to determine the amount of your claim. The adjuster’s job is to try to limit the insurance company’s financial exposure.

To protect their interests, some policyholders seek the advice of an attorney. While their legal expertise may be of value, in most cases they are not familiar with the insurance claim process, and they lack the required experience to process a claim. Even when they are insurance claims experts, they typically work on a contingency basis – which is 2-3 times higher than the rate a public adjuster would charge for the same service.

A public insurance adjuster is a licensed, trained, educated and experienced professional who can be of great help and value to a property owner after a loss has occurred. A qualified public adjuster is intimate with the claims process, the insurance policy and its conditions, and can guide and direct a policyholder through the process with strength and surety of the claims outcome. A public adjuster is only interested in protecting the interest of the policyholder and has an obligation to their client to do so.

Q: Why do I need help with the claim?

A: There are several reasons why you may want to consider obtaining help with your claim:

    1. Filing a claim requires a written, itemized statement of your losses. You may not realize what the extent of your damage is, and the insurance company is not obligated to tell you. The burden of proof is on YOUR shoulders. The Public Adjuster will help you identify everything to which you’re entitled.

 

    1. Filing a claim is a tedious, time-consuming and aggravating process. We can take this burden off your shoulders and free you to get your business or home affairs back on track. During this emotionally charged time, you just don’t have the presence of mind to spend hours and hours over inventory itemization and arguing with your insurance company whether something should “just be repaired” rather than replaced.

 

    1. You are at the mercy of the insurance company. Keep in mind, as someone untrained in handling insurance claims, you will be dealing with insurance “professionals” who will not hesitate to use any slip of the tongue against you. They may low-ball you and you won’t even know it – until it’s too late. The expert Public Adjuster knows exactly what it costs to repair the damage. He will find damage that the untrained eye will otherwise not see. He takes the entire picture into account and fights for you – down to the last penny. He is well versed with what the insurance company wants to hear and what they don’t want to hear and he knows how to present your claim for maximum success.

 

Think about it, in a court case, would you allow the opposing side to hire THEIR attorney to represent YOU? I don’t think so. Then why would you allow the insurance company to hire THEIR adjuster to represent YOU?

Q: How is a Public Adjuster compensated?

A: You pay absolutely nothing out of pocket! Our compensation is a small percentage of the total claim once it’s settled. However, it is important to note that we generally are able to help you take full advantage of your policy’s benefits in such a way as to more than make up for our fee, which is generally more than covered by the larger settlement we obtain for you. Remember, if there is no settlement, there is no fee to you at all!

Q: If I hire Property Claim Adjusters, and I have to pay a percentage of my recovery, I will then be short money, right?

A: This is the biggest misconception. Since our recovery is usually 200%-300% more than what you can get on your own, it basically makes our service free. We handle the claim and get you more money, which more than absorbs our fee.

Q. How long will it take to settle my claim?

A: Our goal is to expedite your claim so as to put you back to the way things were prior to your loss. We at Property Claim Adjusters are trained, experienced professionals who know how to put your claim together far more quickly than someone who has never suffered a catastrophic loss before. If there is any delay in settling your claim, more often than not, it has to do with the insurance company’s lack of urgency regarding claims payments, and we are well-versed in dealing with such delay tactics.

Q: At what point in the claims process should I hire Property Claim Adjusters?

A: We strongly recommend that you call before you call your claim into your insurance company or agent. Doing so ensures that you’ll get the professional help you need immediately. However, you can enlist our services at any time (before you place your claim, during your claim negotiations, and even after your claim has been closed). Basically, it’s never too late.

Q: I have already received a payment for my claim from the insurance company. Is it too late to reopen my file?

A: No. A Public Adjuster can re-open your file and start renegotiating with your insurance company toward a higher settlement. However, once you have been paid it does become a bit more difficult. This is why it is wise to hire a public adjuster from the very beginning of the claim.

Q: My claim was denied, am I entitled to a second opinion?

A: Yes! We have many clients who were told their claim was denied. We simply re-open the loss, negotiate with your insurance company, and insist they pay you (if you have a valid claim).

Q. Do Public Adjusters have to be licensed or certified?

A: Arizona requires Public Adjusters to be licensed by the Arizona Department of Insurance. Additionally, reputable Public Adjusters belong to The American Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (AAPIA), of which Property Claim Adjusters is a member.

Q: What steps do I need to take to hire your firm?

A: You can contact our firm via telephone at (480) 993-3564 or via our contact page and request a free review of your loss. If it’s an emergency, you can contact our 24-hour emergency number at (480) 845-0470.

You will need a copy of your insurance policy on hand. If you do not have it available, you can usually obtain a copy from your insurance agent with a simple phone call. We examine your damage and we analyze your policy. We will then advise you whether or not it is in your best interest to hire a public adjuster or indeed to even file the claim. This is a free service. If we ascertain that we can help you significantly maximize your settlement, then you retain our services by signing a document allowing us to represent you and we take care of the rest!

Q: Other than fire damage, what other types of losses do you handle?

A: Property Claim Adjusters handles any first-party property insurance claim. Water damage, smoke damage, vandalism and windstorm are just a few examples of the types of claims we handle. We are also still settling hail claims from the 2010 hailstorm. If you were denied or underpaid on your claim, give us a call. We may be able to get you more money on your claim.

Q: Why should a condominium community hire a public adjuster?

A: A condominium owner loss is a very different situation from an individual homeowner or business owner loss, and can be particularly confusing and complicated. There are many parties involved, and it is necessary to keep the management company, unit owners and tenants informed throughout the process. We are very experienced in dealing with condominium HOA and unit owner policies and can explain how the different insurance policies and condominium documents interact with one another, and the responsibilities of each party.

We will prepare the claim for the association and determine which portion of the damage (if any) falls within the association’s master policy, or if the damage is to be claimed under the unit owners’ insurance policy. We will take the time to thoroughly investigate and gather complete information regarding the loss to the property, whereas the insurance company adjuster will not. They will only be concerned about the aspect of the claim that pertains to their company. We coordinate the coverage of all policies and communicate with all parties involved, so everyone stays in the loop throughout the claim handling process.

In short, condominium claims require a strong leader who can prepare the claim, supply a breakdown for damages for each involved owner and common area; understand the insurance policy and condominium documents, take the time to communicate and deliver accurate information so that everyone understands the process and ultimate goal.

Q: Will I be denied or Canceled if I hire a Public Adjuster?

A: No. A Public Adjuster is a licensed and insured professional. The Arizona Department of Insurance states that it would be a violation of your rights if any insurance company denies or cancels your policy based on hiring a Public Adjuster. You have the right to hire a Public Adjuster to help you settle your claim with your Insurance company.

Q: We have a lot of building contractors and cleaning/restoration companies knocking on our door, wanting to do our work and help us file our insurance claim. Why should I hire a Public Adjuster to do this for us, instead?

A: Many policyholders have developed confusion from this fairly recent development. Salesman and building contractors have begun presenting themselves as being qualified to help you with the intricacies of your insurance policy, as well as claiming to have expertise in helping you to get the insurance company to pay for your repairs and cleanup. In reality, in most cases, these people are not licensed to act as claim adjusters, nor do they possess the necessary training. Often they are breaking the law in Arizona by trying to represent themselves as Public Adjusters when they are not. Contacting Property Claim Adjusters ensures that you have a licensed and trained representative documenting and settling your claim.

Q: Isn’t it a good idea to go ahead and get everything cleaned now by a professional restoration service instead of waiting until I have settled my claim?

A: Absolutely not! As a policyholder this is probably the single biggest mistake you can make. The reason for this is once the process had begun, the cleaning bill reduces the amount of coverage you have left to replace what has been destroyed or damaged in your loss. Although it’s a well intentioned mistake, it clearly illustrates why policyholders like yourself are in need of a Public Adjuster on their side. To avoid costly mistakes like this, call Property Claim Adjusters and speak to one of our trained professionals.

Q: Who decides if an item needs to be repaired or replaced? My insurance company and I are disagreeing on just about everything?

A: The policy, which is a contract between you and the insurance company has terms that require you to prove your loss. As your representative, Property Claim Adjusters will work to justify your claim by documenting, and negotiating with the insurance company’s representative on your behalf in order to get them to agree with our decisions on these issues. If no agreement can be agreed upon by you and the insurance company, the Appraisal Clause of your policy may be on option considered. Please see the Appraisal Clause Section of this website, for more information on this option.

Q: Do you take both Commercial & Residential claims?

A: Yes, Property Claim Adjusters handles both residential and commercial claims.