Almost everyone who has suffered damages to their property as a result of a fire insurance claim makes costly mistakes during and after the settlement... And, here it is; Most policyholders simply rely on their insurance company to evaluate the entire fire damage claim. This can be the most costly mistake anyone could ever make in their entire life.
It's bad enough to have your property destroyed by fire, but relying on someone else to visit your property, inspect it, provide a proper value, and then trust that they got it all correct...
Is Simply I N S A N E !
Yet, policyholders allow this to happen all across the country, day-in and day-out. For most people it's human nature to count their "change" at the grocery store or diligently review their dinner bill to be sure the waiter didn't charge them for items they did not order. We've all done it. We go out of our way to count and keep track of our chump change. Yet, when it comes to tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars from a fire insurance claim, we rely on the insurance company without question.
No one knows your property like you do. There is much to do to properly prepare and configure a fire insurance claim that in most instances, items are forgotten or missed during the process. Especially if it's done by someone at your insurance company. They don't know about your building, your property, or your contents (furniture, clothing, etc.) like you do. How could they possibly be as accurate as you? Furthermore, just because an insurance company adjuster visits your property for an inspection does not mean they are a professional contractor, builder, or certified in fire and water damage restoration.
With the review of thousands of closed claims, we have found that in most cases, both insurance companies and policyholders unknowingly miss damages that are hidden from the naked eye. In almost all instances; it is a good idea to have a professional review your fire damage claim. Preferably a fire insurance claims appraiser, consultant, or fire consulting firm.
Policyholders often believe that when the insurance company sends them a check and they deposit the money in their bank account - the claim is closed. This couldn't be further from the truth. The fact is; that in most states a policyholder has 3-years to make a claim and even ADD to an existing claim. So, a review of your claim to see if you have been properly compensated can occur, during the claims process or even after the claim has been settled. You can also obtain more money from your claim - even if it has been torn down and demolished.
Yes, even if your claim has been settled and you have deposited the checks, or your building has been torn down and demolished, you can still obtain more insurance proceeds if the damages were not assessed properly. In many cases, tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of more dollars. Even when a policyholder believes they have received a fair settlement... they usually have not.
However, it's up to the policyholder to do their part to protect themselves. Here are a few tips to assist in the review of your fire insurance claim. There are tips if you are in the middle of your claim - as well as tips if your claim has closed some time ago.
1. During Claim -
1. Document Your Building Damage: Take the time to inspect and document the damages yourself. Take photos of all damaged rooms in your building. Take overviews of the room and then take some close-up photos of the damaged ceilings, walls, floors, windows, doors, etc. of that room as well. Work your way around the building to the left (clock wise). Before entering the next room, closet, or hall - take an overview. This will be an easy way to organize which photos belong to which rooms. An example is; Overview of living room, then from top to bottom, photos of ceiling, walls, windows, doors, then the floor. Then the first photo of the next room is an overview, and so on. (No pictures or close-ups of contents yet, just the rooms.)
1. Closed Claim -
1. Obtain Documents Of Your Building: The insurance adjuster has taken photos of your building during their inspection. If you have no photos yourself, or minimal photos - then request all photos taken by the adjuster from the insurance company. You should also request the diagram/sketch they used to calculate the square footage of your building. Also request the complete detailed estimate they have written to arrive at their numbers. This documentation will be useful for the fire insurance claim consultant you choose.
2. During Claim -
2. Document Your Contents Damage: Next is to visit each room and closet once again to inventory your contents. Take an overview photo of each piece of furniture, pair of shoes, shirts, pants, etc. Then a close-up photo of any damage on that item. Write each item down on a Contents Inventory Form. ( Download one by visiting http://www.insuranceclaimsgroup.com/forms.html ) Similar to the way you have photographed and organized your building damage photos, you should do the same with your contents. Example; Take overview photo of living room, then work your way around the room to the left (clockwise). Photograph and list all the items on each wall until you get back to the doorway you began at. This way items will not be missed or forgotten. Once the living room inventory has been completed, move to the next room and start by taking an overview photo of the room. this helps organize what room the contents were located. List the name of the room at he top of each page of your inventory list. Now the photos and the list are both organized in sequence with each other.
2. Closed Claim -
2. Obtain Documents Of Your Contents Damage: The insurance adjuster has taken photos of your contents during their inspection as well. If you have no photos yourself, or minimal photos - then request all photos taken by the adjuster of your contents. You should also request the complete detailed contents inventory they have written to arrive at their numbers. This documentation will be useful for the fire insurance claim consultant you choose.
3. During Claim -
3. Review Your Policy: Fire victims must take the time to review their insurance policy. You must know the basics; How much coverage do you have on your building? How much coverage do you have for your contents (furniture, clothing, etc.)? How much coverage do you have to stay in a hotel or to rent a home or furniture? Surprisingly, many people don't know this. In many cases the policy has been damaged in the fire. If this is the case; visit your agent and ask for a certified copy of your full policy. Ask your agent to help explain how much coverage you have.
3. Closed Claim -
3. Obtain Copy Of Your Policy: Contact your insurance company and request a certified copy of your "FULL" insurance policy, including the Declarations page. This documentation will be useful for the fire insurance claim consultant you choose.
4. During Claim -
4. Consult A Professional: The insurance company will have an adjuster visit the property, inspect the damages, and complete an estimate on the amount of loss. It is important that you have the same process completed for yourself. How do you know the insurance adjuster is doing their job correctly? Are you willing to forfeit tens of thousands of dollars by not taking the time to make sure? The insurance company is supposed to explain all the fire insurance claim coverage that is available to the policyholder, however, this is rarely done. Sometimes it's done on purpose, and other times it's also done on purpose (Did you catch that? This is done on purpose more often than not.) It's your property, it's your policy, and it's your money. Educate yourself to be sure you are being fully compensated for your loss. Hire a fire insurance claim professional to review the insurance company's evaluation. Obtain your own "real-world" prices and costs to replace your property.
4. Closed Claim -
4. Consult A Professional: Did you receive a fair settlement for your fire insurance claim? How do you know unless you ask someone? If you are unsure if you have obtained a fair settlement from your insurance company, you owe it to yourself to find out. If you have collected all the data as outlined above; you will have enough data on your claim to have a professional review it. A review of your claim will allow the fire insurance claim consultant to advise you where you stand. Leaving yourself in the dark, with a chance of forfeiting tens of thousands of dollars, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars makes zero sense. A small fee to find out where you stand is a small price to pay, compared to a large sum of insurance proceeds that you did not know existed.
(Free Consultation: We will review your present or closed insurance claim files at no cost. Free Consultation. Call Today 919-669-9111 or visit http://www.insuranceclaimsgroup.com/contact-us.html )
The reasons are simple. See, the insurance company adjuster works for the insurance company, whereas the fire claims consultant works for you. You've done the right thing by making sure you had insurance coverage. It's up to you to take the next step and be sure you have received what you paid for.
Copyright of Insurance Claims Group, Inc. & Joseph P. Brennan: Joe Brennan is President and owner/operator of Insurance Claims Group, Inc., a national independent adjusting, appraisal, and umpiring firm. Joe has been in the property loss business for more than 24-years. His loss experience began as a contractor / builder, which included water and fire damage restoration repair services. After 20-years of insurance restoration estimating and repair experience, Mr. Brennan became a licensed independent insurance claims adjuster. Joe has maintained his IICRC Certification in both Fire and Water Restoration and also maintains active adjuster licenses in 10-states. Throughout his career, he has handled many multi-million dollar losses, both commercial and residential. The amount of combined experience and knowledge of new construction, damage repairs, and insurance claims handling has advanced his ability to act as a Dispute Appraiser and Appraisal Umpire. Mr. Brennan is highly educated with the appraisal process and has acted as an appraiser and umpire on dozens of claims.
Get your Insurance Appraisal Questions Answered FREE! No cost, no obligation, I will answer your questions. Mr. Brennan can be reached at;
Insurance Claims Group, Inc.
2054 Kildaire Farm Rd., Suite # 426
Cary, NC 27518
website: http://www.insuranceclaimsgroup.com & http://www.insurance-appraisal-services.com
Copyright of Insurance Claims Group, Inc. & Joseph P. Brennan: No republishing without express written consent.
If You Wish To Dispute Your Claim
If you really wish to stop the bleeding and the endless back-and-forth disagreement with your insurance company, then the appraisal clause is really your only hope. When the parties can't come to terms and disagree, either the insurance company or the policyholder has the right, per the policy, to demand appraisal. When the intent to invoke the insurance appraisal clause arises it must be issued via a written request. To resolve such disputes, each party must choose an appraiser. Fire Insurance Claims and Disputes is what we do.
Insurance Claims Group, Inc. exceeds in their knowledge of the appraisal process and fire damage claims. We're available to represent the facts of the loss on your behalf. To execute the job as your independent insurance appraiser properly, not only should one be educated in the process, but one should also be qualified to review the differences between the two parties. Our extensive experience with fire insurance claims, construction, building repairs, building materials, and the insurance appraisal process qualifies us as a choice above all.
What We Do As A Fire Damage Appraiser!
The first step to our fire appraisal process is to obtain as much documentation that is available on the claim. We will collect a copy of the insurance company's fire damage estimate(s), the policyholder's fire damage estimate(s), as well as any other documentation that is available. We will vigorously review and inspect each estimate line-by-line for discrepancies.
The next step will be to inspect the property that has been damaged by the fire. A thorough inspection will be conducted, room by room, and piece by piece (or any remaining parts). We will conduct this inspection with the two different fire damage estimates that are being disputed. With these estimates in hand during our inspection we can determine if one estimate has missed items to be addressed and/or if the other is excessive.
Our inspection will include 50 to 300 photos (depending on the size of the fire loss and extent of fire damage). These photos will prove and support our findings. The photos will be taken in a manner that supports our position of whether items can be saved or will require replacement. The photos will also show cause and affect damages. Yes, the bricks on the exterior of a home or building may not appear to be damaged by the fire. However, if the sheathing/plywood behind the brick is smoked and damp - the bricks will require removal to access other repairs.
Some rooms or even an entire building may be fire damaged beyond recognition. In these cases we will conduct an interview process with the owners of the property to confirm room layouts, types of wall and floor finishes, electrical items, cabinetry, and more. This type of questions and answer session will paint a clear picture of the TRUE value of the damages the fire caused. The proper value of the claim depends on it's accuracy.
All the data collected will then be programmed into the Xactimate estimating software. Xactimate configures and displays the data in the exact format that the insurance companies require. Line by line, piece by piece, the exact square feet of drywall, paint, wallpaper, and carpet will be calculated for a real and accurate cost to pay the claim. In fact, Xactimate is used by more than 70% of insurance companies.
Any items that are in question will be reviewed by our group of engineers, building inspectors, or contractors as additional documentation to support the true repairs. Foundations, brick, support beans, and electrical may require removal and may not meet current building codes. These professionals can advise on ways to keep these types of materials or why they will require replacement.
After all this has been completed we will meet with the other parties appraiser and discuss each others findings. In some cases an agreement cannot be reached between the two appraisers. In the event this happens, the two appraisers will submit their differences to the Appraisal Umpire.
How To Hire ICG, Inc. As A Your Independent Fire Damage Appraiser!
Please call (919-669-9111) so we can discuss your needs or feel free to fill out the Appraisal Form. We will provide a free consultation and review your entire claim file at no cost. If we agree to be your independent appraiser you must formally advise the insurance company that we will be acting in your behalf.
To appoint one of our highly qualified professionals as your independent appraiser we make this process very easy. We will provide a letter that you sign and submit to your insurance company naming us your appraiser. This letter should be sent to the insurance company via certified mail!
Contact Us For Free Consultation!
Should you invoke appraisal? How much will it cost? Is Joe Brennan the right fit for your appraisal needs? How do you know unless you ask? Please feel free to contact me by email to set up a date and time to to discuss your Insurance Appraisal needs. Or, call me directly at (919) 669-9111. I will be happy to assist you in any way I can.
For an overview of the entire appraisal process visit the Insurance Appraisal Process page or more details. Thanks for visiting our Fire Damage page.