Filing a home insurance claim means you’ll have to deal with the home insurance adjuster that your insurance company sends to check your property. The insurance adjuster will typically be working in the insurer’s interests and may not be advocating for you.
Therefore, you need to know the best strategies on how to deal with home insurance adjuster before disaster strikes. This guide will prepare you for that. However, if that time is now, it will also help you avoid costly mistakes and get the most out of your claims. Read on!
Want to learn how to deal with a home insurance adjuster? In this article, you’ll discover what you should know before filing a home insurance claim, what to do before and after a home insurance adjuster’s, proven tips to deal with the insurance adjuster, and how to negotiate with the home insurance adjuster successfully.
What Should You Know Before Filing a Home Insurance Claim?
Before we discuss how to deal with the home insurance adjuster, here are some points you should put in mind before you file a claim.
- Avoid submitting claims for a home maintenance project. For example, if your home fence is rotting and growing weaker, and you can see that all it takes is a big windstorm to send it crashing. Instead of filing a claim, plan your household finances to get a new fence. You’ll get better premiums when your home is well maintained.
- If your deductible is above the cost of repair, do not file a claim. If you do, you’ll have to increase your home insurance rates. In the end, you’ll be paying for the repairs because you’d have to pay for the deductible first. For example, if your deductible is $2,000 and the repair costs $4,000, you’ll only be getting $2,000 from your insurance company.
- Be familiar with your policy before you file a claim. You have to be sure your insurance covers the claim you are making. If you make a claim and you’re not covered, you won’t be paid any money. To top that, even if your request cannot be covered, it’ll still be on your record as an officially filed claim. Remember, the more claims you make, the more your premiums increase.
- Call the police when needed. If your property damage was a result of criminal activity like theft, call the police. If you don’t, it could slow down your claim or place it under suspicion.
- Take pictures of the property damage. This should be your first step after calling your insurance company. The images should be clear, well lit, and shot from different angles. You can use a ruler to project a scale for close up pictures like hail damage. Take wide shots to show the location of the damage compared to other rooms.
- Reach out to your mortgage lender to be part of your settlement if you do not own your home fully yet. They’ll likely release the settlement in installments to make sure that the homeowner is using the money to fix the house.
- As stated earlier, the more your claims, the higher your premiums. So, do not be a repeat-claimer. Any more than two claims in 10 years will set the alarms.
How Are Home Insurance Settlements Determined?
Your homeowner’s insurance policy and your province/state law will determine your coverage and settlement. For instance, your insurance policy could cover your home for either replacement cost (RC) or the actual cash value (ACV).
Replacement cost gives you the reimbursement needed to cover the costs of rebuilding your home or repairing damages with similar materials.
On the other hand, Actual cash value gives you the funds to repair or rebuild your home based on your home’s value after putting its age and market value into consideration. Your home’s market value may not be the same as the replacement value because, in some places, the cost of rebuilding your home might be less than the full value of your property.
If you insured your home for less than its replacement value, some provinces/states have special laws that can handle this. The gravity of the damages, the time it takes your insurer to send out an adjuster, and how long it takes you and your insurance company to agree on a suitable amount as compensation all determines when you’ll get your settlement.
Who is A Home Insurance Adjuster?
What is an insurance adjuster? The insurance company employs an insurance claims adjuster to assess claims and determine how much the insurance company would be paying out. Your home insurance company adjuster can be an independent contractor or a paid employee of your insurance company.
Therefore, he/she will be working to protect the integrity of the insurance claim and may not advocate for you. Insurance companies want to pay the least amount of money obligated by law to pay from a financial viewpoint. So, the objective of the home insurance adjuster would be to assess your claim and close as fast, and for the lowest amount possible.
What You Should Know About Insurance Adjusters
1. The two kinds of insurance claims adjusters
After a major accident or natural disaster, public adjusters (mostly independent adjusters) contact people. The good thing, so to speak, about public adjusters, is they won’t be looking out for the insurance company’s interests. However, unlike an insurance company adjuster, public adjusters aren’t free.
The public adjuster’s fee varies from one province/state to the other. The typical charge is between 10-20% of your settlement, depending on how high the settlement is. For example, a public adjuster may charge as high as 20% for a $30,000 loss and as little as 10% for a loss above $100,000.
Before you hire a public adjuster, it lies on you to do a proper check. Ensure you check their references and qualifications. Your province/state insurance department can help you with your assessments.
The second type of insurance claims adjuster is the insurance company adjuster or the staff adjuster. For you to know how to deal with a home insurance adjuster from the insurance company, you should know that he or she works for the insurance company, and not you. Sometimes, insurance companies hire public adjusters. They’ll work for and look out for the interest of the insurance company.
2. How the Home Insurance Adjuster Works
The home insurance adjuster will focus on looking for any structural damage to your main residence. Sometimes, you’ll have to call his or her attention to losses like shed damage. Do not discard anything until the insurance claims adjuster has registered it. The home insurance adjuster uses software like Xactimate to come up with the damage figures.
The adjuster can either settle the entire matter with you over the phone or meet with you personally, depending on how massive your claim is. If you filed a small claim like small fire damage to the kitchen, the home insurance adjuster could complete the entire process over the phone. But, for complex claims that require on-site analysis, the adjuster will meet with you face to face, inspect the site and ask you questions to determine your coverage.
The insurance claims adjuster will likely take pictures or make a video in addition to a written record to document the loss. It would be best not to attempt to clean up or alter the damaged property state before the insurance claim adjuster inspects it. However, if you have to alter it to protect the place from more damage, you can take a picture of the damaged area before going ahead.
How to Deal with Home Insurance Adjuster’s Visit (Before and After)
After the home insurance adjuster’s visit, you’ll be given a time limit to submit some information about your claim. You might be asked for an account of the loss, a record of damaged property, specifics of damaged structures, and if you have to leave your home, receipts of additional living expenses.
It might be a little tough to pull these off within the stated time if you didn’t know the steps to take before and during the insurance claims adjuster’s visit. Not anymore! This list covers everything you should know:
- Make a list of all your lost or damaged property
Before the insurance claims adjuster gets to your home, carefully record damages as you see them. You’ll be asked to give information about your property’s damage. This information would be more accurate if you made an itemized list of your property. The itemized list should also show the date you got everything and the estimate of repair or replacement.
Providing accurate and detailed information about your loss will increase your chances of getting full compensation for your loss.
- Fully understand your policy’s exclusion.
You’ll affect your claim negatively if you don’t know what your policy covers while speaking with the adjuster. For example, typical homeowners insurance policy won’t offer coverage for water damage. Assuming your house suffered heavy rainfall and strong winds. This storm shatters your windows, and rain soaks everything. Since you took precautions by closing your windows before the storm, your policy would protect your property from this type of water damage.
However, if what you focused on telling the adjuster was an account of the rain damage and how flooded your home was, it could mislead the adjuster and invalidate your coverage.
- Document your meetings with the insurance company adjuster
When you’re given an insurance claims adjuster, you should keep a log of your meetings in a journal or spreadsheet. Clock in the date and time of your conversations and a short explanation of what you spoke about.
If possible, make paper or electronic copies of your adjuster’s reports so you can be organized throughout your case.
- Remain honest about your loss
Always be honest about what you tell your home insurance adjuster. If you have to sign any statements, check them properly and verify that they are accurate before signing.
Making false statements to the adjuster will affect your claim negatively. Your homeowners insurance policy prevents you from getting any compensation if you provide incorrect information to your adjuster. You might even face a lawsuit for committing insurance fraud.
- Avoid suggesting you’re to blame
While you should not provide false information to your insurance home insurance adjuster, you should also avoid making statements that imply you are to blame for the damage.
Your policy may not compensate property losses caused by your negligence, and the adjuster will be on the look for anything that implies that.
How to Deal with Home Insurance Adjuster During Negotiations
When negotiating with your home insurance company’s adjuster, you shouldn’t feel intimidated. Many insurance companies offer a low initial offer because they expect the policyholder to negotiate the offer or hire a public adjuster.
Giving you a low initial offer is a win-win situation for an insurance company. They probably have a better offer lined up in case you reject it. However, if you accept it, they’ll be saving money and avoiding a stretchy negotiation process.
When negotiating with the insurance company’s home insurance adjuster, always remember your contract with the insurance company binds them to an obligation to act in good faith. Refusing to cover certain damages that should be covered makes them liable for lawsuits. Lawsuits cost very high for insurance companies, so they’ll try everything possible to avoid one.
Another thing you should remember is the home insurance adjuster deals with a lot of insurance claims weekly. However, you have only your claim to handle, so you are at an advantage. You can have a much better knowledge of your request and use it to your advantage.
What Should You Do When Negotiations Fail
If, after doing everything right, your insurance company offers you a figure lower than your expectations. Most times, the insurers will claim they’re giving you a market value for your home instead of considering the state it was before the disaster.
Don’t worry! If you can’t reach an agreement with the insurance company, there are things you can do. You can go beyond your insurance agent and request to speak or meet with the company’s claims department manager.
If that doesn’t help, you can check to see if your policy allows an independent appraisal after a loss. If it does, you can inform your insurance company that you want to proceed with an independent appraiser. What would happen is a neutral third party would have the binding decision regarding your claim.
There’s a possibility it won’t work in your favour, but it’s worth trying if you feel the insurance company is not being fair with the proposed settlement.
General Tips on How to Deal With Home Insurance Adjuster
Some homeowners insurance claims tips:
- If possible, do not give the insurance claims adjuster a recorded statement. You won’t have any control over how it’ll be interpreted.
- You can hire a public adjuster or an attorney if you feel your insurance company is acting in bad faith.
- Avoid speaking to the adjuster unless it’s necessary, and when you do, try to have a friend or your lawyer or public adjuster assist.
- If the payout offer from your insurance company feels unreasonably low, you can ask them to justify the amount by listing the damages and how they reached their numbers.
- Once you agree on a settlement, please make sure you get it in writing. An adjuster can go against what was promised during negotiations and go back to a previous offer for the final settlement.
- Do not sign any documents from the insurance adjuster without reviewing and fully understanding the contents.
- Don’t settle your insurance claims too fast.
Remember, if you are overwhelmed by dealing with your insurance company’s home insurance adjuster, you have the option of hiring a public adjuster who will work in your interest. It can help you save a great deal of time and stress while at the same time helping you to get the maximum compensation from your insurance claims.
Now that you know these homeowners insurance claims tips, let’s answer some of your questions.
Answers to Some Frequently Asked Questions on How to Deal With Home Insurance Adjuster
What does the adjuster do for home insurance?
The home insurance adjuster works for the insurance company. After submitting a report on your claim, your insurance company may issue a settlement i.e., the money they’ll offer you to either fix or replace your damaged property.
What should you not say to an insurance adjuster?
Keep your answers to the adjuster’s questions as brief as possible. You have to tell the truth, but do not give unnecessary details. If you are not sure about the answer to a question, politely refuse to respond. Inaccurate statements could come back to hurt your claim, and you don’t want that.
What happens if I don’t agree with the home insurance adjuster?
If you disagree with the home insurance adjuster, you will have to submit your differences to the umpire. Then, whatever decision any two agrees to will determine the amount of loss.
Do insurance adjusters tell lies?
The insurance claims adjuster will try to get you to give a recorded statement, but you are not required by any law to do so. So, please do not do it! They may end up misleading you. Even though insurance companies are not allowed to lie or deceive, they may use statements to determine how well you know your rights.
What do claims adjusters look for?
Insurance claims adjusters inspect property damage or personal injury claims to decide the amount the insurance company would pay for the loss. They might inspect the home, interview the claimant and witnesses, inspect the property, and do additional research like looking at police reports.
Why do insurance companies change adjusters?
Insurance companies normally strongly evaluate ( low estimate) claims where people do it themselves. If the insurance company sees the claim might exceed their initial estimate, they may decide to transfer it to an adjuster with more authority.
That’s it! Now you know how to deal with home insurance adjuster like a pro! Even before the need arises for you to file a claim, make sure you look for a homeowner’s insurance carrier with a reputation for excellent customer service. Ensure they have a line up of positive reviews from customers who have had their claims honored fast and fairly. Be sure that you know how much home contents insurance you actually need before going ahead.
Note: the cheapest insurer is not always the best