|Almost every person who has been involved with a fire insurance claim makes very costly mistakes when it comes to their claim settlement... There is one mistake that grossly out does all others. The number one most costly mistake made is that is that; almost all policyholders accidentally rely on their insurance company's adjuster to estimate and value all the fire claim damages. This will be the absolute, most costly mistake an individual who has suffered a fire could ever make in their whole life.
As if it's not bad enough that your property was destroyed by fire, to then rely on someone else - who is not really there for you - to visit the property, inspect the damages, generate a PROPER value, and then completely trust that they have your best interest in mind...
Is Simple And Pure I N S A N I T Y !
Yet, we see policyholders that are in a state of shock allow this very thing to happen all across the world, every day of the year. It's hard to imagine that most people have human instincts to count their "change" from a cashier at the store or diligently review dinner bills, line by line, to make sure the waiter or waitress did not bill them for additional items. We all do it. We're sure to go out of our way to track and count life's little chump change. However, when it comes to fire insurance claim damages exceeding tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars, without ay questions we rely on the insurance company.
No one else comes close to knowing your property like you do. With all that is needed to properly prepare and configure the damages associated with a fire insurance claim, almost in all instances, items are missed and forgotten during the claims process. Especially if this is completed by someone other than you. The insurance adjusters don't know all there is to know about your building, your personal property, or the quality of your contents ( clothing, furniture, etc. ) like you do. How could another person possibly be as accurate as you when calculating such items? Further, simply because the insurance adjuster visits the property for an inspection, in no way shape or form means that they are a professional contractor, builder, or qualified and certified in fire and water damage restoration and evaluation.
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.
Too often policyholders are under the impression that if they deposit a check received from the insurance company into their bank account - the claim is settled and closed. This could not be any further from the truth. The fact are; that in most states policyholders have 3-years to make claims from the time the damages occurred. Claimants can even ADD items to an existing claim. So, the review of claims to be sure you have been fully compensated can occur, during the process of an existing claim or even after the claim has been closed and settled. More money from your claim is also obtainable even if your property or building has been removed, torn down, or 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 truly up to the policyholders to do their part and protect themselves. Below are a few tips and ideas to assist policyholders with the review of their fire insurance claims. There are tips for those in the middle of the claim process - as well as tips for claims that have been closed some time ago.
1. Claim In Progress -
1. Document Building Damage: Take time to inspect, photograph, and document the fire damages yourself. Take photos of all rooms in the building. Take overview photos of the room as well as close-up photos of the ceilings, walls, floors, windows, doors, etc. of each room as well. Work around the building to the left (clock wise). Then, before entering the next room - take an overview photo. This will be the easiest way to organize the photos for each room. Here's an example; Take overview photo of the kitchen, then work your photos from the ceiling to the floor. Take overview photo of ceiling, then zoom in on photos of the ceiling. Continue with overview photos of each wall, then close-up photos of damages on walls. Continue this process with windows, doors, and finally the floor. When you enter the next rom, hall or closet, the first photo is an overview, and so on. (Do not take any photos or close-ups of any furniture or clothing 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. Claim In Progress -
2. Document The Contents Damages: Next you will want to visit each room, hall, and closet again. However, for this go around you will be collecting the inventory of all contents in the rooms. In the same way we photographed the rooms; you will take an overview photograph of each individual piece of furniture, each set of shoes, each individual pair of pants, shoes, ect. After each individual overview is taken you will then take close-up photographs of the damage to that individual item as well. (Like water stains, smoke, or burn marks, etc.) List each individual item onto a Contents inventory Form. ( You can request one for free by Contacting Us ) The say way we took the photos of the rooms and write the list will also help organize them. For Example; Take an overview photograph of a room prior to entering. Let's say your first room is the living room. Take an overview and then proceed around the room clockwise, to your left. Picture and list each item on left wall, then each wall after, until you return to the doorway where you began. It is very important that you do not bounce around the rooms. This helps keep the items and your list organized and ensures items will not be left out, forgotten or totally missed. After each individual item of the living room has been listed and photographed, continue to the next room. Again, you will start with the overview photograph of that new room. This also organizes the contents by the rooms they were in. Just as important is to list the names of the rooms at the top on each page of the list. The pictures and the lists are now both organized in sequential order with each other.
2. Closed Claim -
2. Obtain Contents Damage Documents: If the adjuster has done their job properly they have taken photos of the contents during the inspection as well. If you have minimal or no photos of your contents you should request all those taken by the adjuster. You also want to request a copy of the complete contents inventory they had written to arrive at your contents settlement numbers. This type of documentation will also be useful for the fire insurance claim consultants you may choose.
3. Claim In Progress -
3. Review Policy: Fire claim victims should always take time to read and review their insurance policies. Moss people have no idea of the basics, like; How much building allowance they? How much allowance for contents (clothing, furniture, electronics, etc.)? How much allowance to rent a home, rent furniture, or to stay in a hotel? Surprisingly, most policyholders have limited or absolutely no knowledge of such information. Usually this type of documentation gets destroyed in the fire. If such; people should visit their agents office and request a "certified true copy" of the policy they own. One should also ask the agent to advise how much coverage they hold for their property.
3. Closed Claim -
3. Obtain Copy Of Policy: Even if your claim was closed years ago and you have a different insurance company, you can request a certified true copy of the "FULL" insurance policy, with Declarations page, at the time the fire occurred. As well, this type of documentation will be useful when you consult with a fire insurance claim appraiser.
4. Claim In Progress -
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 and provide a Complete & Free Consultation. Call Today 919-669-9111 or Contact Us here
The reasons are very simple. The fact is, the insurance company's adjusters work directly for the insurance companies, where fire claims appraisers works directly for the policyholders. At this point you have made the right move by taking time to be sure you had insurance coverage for your property. It is now up to you to jump to the next step to ensure you have fully received what was paid for.
Appraisal Clause In The Policy!
Below, you will find the wording of a typical Appraisal Clause included in most policies. As stated; the appraisal clause is usually found in the "Conditions" or "What to do after a loss," sections of the policy. Keep in mind that each state many have different wording in the clause. However, they are all similar and basically mean the same thing... The Rules On Disputing The Amount Of Loss On A An Insurance Claim. Therefore, all policyholders should refer to their own policy to see if the appraisal clause exists and what it says. In most policies the Insurance Appraisal Clause States:
APPRAISAL - If you and we fail to agree on the amount of loss, either one can demand that the amount of the loss be set by appraisal. If either makes a written demand for appraisal, each shall select a competent, independent appraiser. Each shall notify the other of the appraiser's identity within 20 days of receipt of the written demand. The two appraisers shall then select a competent, impartial umpire. If the two appraisers are unable to agree upon an umpire within 15 days, you or we can ask a judge of a court of record in the state where the residence premises is located to select an umpire. The appraisers shall then set the amount of the loss. If the appraisers fail to agree within a reasonable time, they shall submit their differences to the umpire. Written agreement signed by any two of these three shall set the amount of the loss.
(What's the difference between arbitration and the insurance appraisal clause?)
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.
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 Fire Insurance Claims.
We provide Fire Insurance Claim Help and services for the insurance appraisal process in multiple states. We have personally adjusted fire claims, acted as an independent fire appraiser, and have been requested as an Insurance Appraisal Umpire for fire claim disputes in the following states;