40% Consumer Complaints Are Due to Poor Claim Handling

POLICYHOLDERS – DON’T BECOME ANOTHER STATISTIC

Half of all consumer complaints are due to poor claim handling by insurers

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Policyholders are complaining about insurance companies.  Why? Claim handling practices such as

  • Denial of claim
  • Delays
  • Unsatisfactory (settlements)
  • Complaints that are specific to state rules and regulations

A whopping 47% of consumer complaints in 2015 according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners revolved around claim handling issues.

Top 10 Reasons for Insurance Consumer Complaints

                                                2015
 

Reason for Complaint

 

Count

% of All

Reasons

Claim Handling – Denial of Claim 18,241 19.14%
Claim Handling – Delays 13,890 14.58%
Claim Handling – Unsatisfactory Settlement/Offer 10,046 10.54%
Underwriting – Surcharge 7,648 8.03%
Underwriting – Cancellation 4,124 4.33%
PolicyHolder Service – Coverage Question 3,573 3.75%
Claim Handling – State Specific 3,528 3.70%
PolicyHolder Service – Premium Refund 3,515 3.69%
Underwriting – Premium & Rating 3,205 3.36%
PolicyHolder Service – Premium Notice/Billing 3,108 3.26%

 

This information outlines some of the reasons why consumers were not happy with the performance of their insurance company during the claim process but it also spells out that the claim handling process can be difficult and unsatisfactory for policyholders to navigate on their own.  Policyholders who find themselves involved in a property insurance claim can expect to be disappointed with their insurers nearly 50% of the time.

It is advisable for policyholders to seek their own licensed insurance professional to make sure that they do not become another statistic.  When you are trying to recover from an insured loss the complicated insurance process and adversarial nature of claim experience can be traumatizing.

Advocate Claims Public Adjusters has firsthand knowledge of all the insurance company dirty tricks used to avoid the proper handling and settlement of an insurance claim.

Insurance companies have their own adjusters and experts to protect their pocket, shouldn’t you have your own adjuster too!

Before you consider reporting a property damage insurance claim insurance claim to your insurance company call us first!

We will do everything in our power to increase your odds.

Empowering the policy holder one claim at a time.

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What is a Public Adjuster?

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Has your home or building suffered property damages like a natural disaster, robbery, vandalism, or pipe burst? Good thing you already know to call your homeowner’s insurance company – but what else should you do? Is there anyone else you should contact?

In the event that you need to file a residential or commercial property insurance claim, like most homeowners, you may not have been through the process before. Knowing who to contact and how to navigate through the insurance claim process is the key to getting your claim settled in an efficient manner that gives you the most back.  This is where public adjusters come in handy. Since homeowners do not file claims every day like insurance companies and public adjusters do, hiring professional help is your best bet in order to ensure that your claim is being properly handled.

No clue what a public adjuster is?

The textbook definition of a public adjuster is a professional claims handler / claims adjuster who advocates for the policyholder in appraising and negotiating a claimant’s insurance claim.

Since filing an insurance claim after residential or commercial property damage can be stressful due to the many steps and details, many homeowners and business owners seek out professional help from public adjusters in their area in hopes of removing the burden of dealing with the insurance company.

Advocate Claims Public Adjusters are South Florida adjusters that service Palm Beach Gardens, Weston, Miramar, Parkland, Boca Raton, Coral Springs, and other surrounding cities. Our licensed Florida public adjusters can interpret your homeowners insurance policy, assess the damage of your home or business property, create an estimate for the cost of repairs that keeps your best interests in mind, and negotiate with the insurance company until the claim is settled.

Our public adjusters in Palm Beach and outer-lying cities work for the homeowner, not the insurance company, and have a No Recovery – No Fee policy that includes a No Obligation Consultation. Advocate Claims empowers the policyholder, so if you need to file a homeowner’s insurance claim or commercial property insurance claim in South Florida, call our main office at 954-369-0573 today.

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Car and Home Hurricane Protection

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We’ve all been there, we have left the garage door open and then it rains, and items get damaged; or we forget to put our hurricane shutters up before a storm warning is sent out. The fact is, a lot of homeowners wait until it is too late to protect their home and their vehicles.

Advocate Claims Public Adjusters service many major South Florida cities like Miramar, Weston, Parkland, and Palm Beach Gardens, and have handled countless homeowner’s insurance claims that were the result of ill-preparation during storm seasons. Part of our services include giving homeowners car and home hurricane protection information they need in order to avoid having to file an insurance company claim in the first place.

Since Florida residents focus on hurricane preparedness, here are some of our expert Weston public adjusters’ tips for protecting your car and home before a hurricane occurs:

  • During a Florida hurricane season, you should always be mindful of where you park your car and its surroundings. Is there a large tree that could fall on it? If you can, it may be ideal to clean out your garage and make sure that cars can fit inside, or park them where they cannot be harmed from falling debris.
  • When figuring out your parking situation during hurricane season, make sure that you don’t park your car in a low-lying area that is prone to flooding.
  • Keep your vehicle full of gas and evacuation ready, and keep your home fully stocked with essentials in case the electricity goes out. A good general rule of thumb for car and home hurricane protection is to be prepared for at least one month.
  • If hail is in the forecast, make sure that you move your vehicle under a covered structure.
  • Flash floods may occur after a hurricane, typically up to 12 hours after a heavy rain storm, so make sure that you move as many belongings as you can to higher floors or off the ground floor to prevent as much damage as possible. Although structural damage may not be prevented in all cases, you can prevent items in your home from getting ruined by outdoor flooding that seeps inside.

In the event that your home suffers from hurricane damage, hail, or flooding due to hurricane damage, our Weston public adjusters are ready to take your call and help streamline the homeowner’s insurance claim process for you. Contact our professional South Florida adjusters by calling our main office located in Coconut Creek at 954-369-0573. Advocate Claims stands by a No Recovery – No Fee commitment to service and works by empowering the policy holder, not the insurance company.

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3 Things Your Standard Homeowner’s Insurance Policy Does Not Cover

Depending on your geographic location, knowing what your homeowner’s insurance policy does and does not cover is crucial to being able to return your home back to normalcy in the event of an emergency. When a home suffers from wind, fire, hurricane damage, tornado damage, pipe bursts, and flooding, and homeowner’s face the unfortunate circumstance of having to file an insurance claim, local public adjusters tend to find that a lot of homeowners are not completely aware of what their insurance policies do and do not cover.

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The South Florida public adjusters at Advocate Claims work on behalf of the homeowner, not the insurance company. As a result, we like our customers to have the necessary knowledge for properly assessing their home’s damage, their situation, and for navigating their residential insurance coverage. The following are 3 forms of damages that your standard homeowner’s insurance policy does not cover.

1. Mold. Despite the threat to health that mold poses, a standard homeowner’s insurance policy either limits coverage for mold damage or completely excludes it. If you live in a moist area that is prone to mold, some insurers offer an endorsement to expand coverage for mold claims.

2. Sewer backup. The unfortunate reality surrounding sewer backups is that the majority of America’s sewer systems are over 100 years old and are past-due for repairs. Since homes are often connected to these sewage lines, sewage backup can cause damage to a home’s floors, walls, furniture, and electrical systems; even so, a standard homeowner’s insurance policy does not cover sewer backups, but you may be able to request additional coverage.

3. Sinkholes. If you live in Florida, South Florida public adjusters want every homeowner to be aware of the possibility for sinkholes and to be aware that Florida is the only state in which sinkholes are covered by a standard homeowner’s insurance policy. In every other state where sinkholes are prominent, earth movement is excluded.

 

For more information on what your homeowner’s insurance policy may or may not cover, contact Steven Venook at Advocate Claims Public Adjusters, at 954-369-0573.

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Evaluating Loss with a Business Ordinance or Law Exclusion

After a severe commercial property loss, one of the worst things that a business owner find out is that they have to rebuild their damaged structure to conform to new building codes. As a result, business owners might find themselves faced with costs that are out of their budget. Licensed public adjusters in South Florida are aware that even if the insurance company does give a substantial settlement, if it factors in certain construction parameters outlined in the Ordinance or Law Exclusion, reconstruction that complies with current building codes can add a significant amount to the cost of repairs.

Coconut Creek public adjusters don’t want to see your business suffer from not having the funds to repair your establishment, so the licensed public adjusters at Advocate Claims recommend that you check the “Ordinance or Law” exclusion in your property insurance policy, as this may prevent a full recovery.

The Ordinance or Law Exclusion states that the insurer does not have to pay for loss or damage caused by regulating construction, in regards to repairs that are due to code requirements and/or removing undamaged materials during reconstruction.

In order to evaluate loss with a business ordinance or law coverage, Advocate Claims Public Adjusters recommend that you go over the three distinct and separate areas of uninsured loss outlined in the Ordinance or Law Exclusion. This way, you are aware of exactly how it may apply to your commercial property loss and repairs.

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1. Your public adjuster can help you evaluate the loss of the value of the undamaged portion of a building when the building has to be torn down in order to meet certain code requirements. When the commercial property damage percent exceeds what it specified in the code, or when reconstruction is not permitted under the code, you may see a lapse in coverage.

2. Not covered is the cost of demolition and the removal of debris from undamaged portions of your commercial property. Note that this only applies to the cost for demolition and removal of undamaged portions, not damaged portions.

3. Also not covered is the costs of reconstruction increase due to code requirements, such as sprinklers, fire protection, or anything that is a code requirement that was left out of your old building, these additional fees are not covered.

Since certain homeowner’s insurance policies may also have the same restrictions, the public adjusters at Advocate Claims can provide guidance and insight into your homeowner’s insurance and/or commercial property insurance fine print and details. This way, you can know exactly what you can and cannot receive insurance settlement funds for.

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The Difference between Replacement Cost and Actual Cash Value

Florida public adjusters want every homeowner to be aware of the residential insurance claim process, as there are many aspects and terms that are not easily defined by homeowners. One of those aspects is Actual Cash Value vs. Replacement Cost Value. In order to make these two concepts simple to understand, the expert public adjusters at Advocate Claims have outlined everything that you need to know about the two terms and how to be knowledgeable about what exactly your homeowner’s or property insurance covers.

Actual Cash Value – When filing an insurance claim, depending on if you purchased actual cash value or replacement cost coverage will determine how your insurance claim will be paid.  Actual cash value is traditionally determined based on taking the replacement cost less depreciation. It is important to keep in mind that actual cash value is not as easily defined as replacement cost. Some courts have interpreted actual cash value to mean “fair market value”, which is the amount that a buyer would pay if a seller was simply selling a used item.

How is depreciation computed? Depreciation is typically calculated using the following formula:

Asset’s Historical Cost – Asset’s Estimated Salvage Value / Asset’s Useful Life

Replacement Cost – Replacement cost is more easily defined an understood as the cost to replace the property with new property of comparable material and quality.Real-estate-mortgage-000067823399_Medium

 

The difference between replacement cost and actual cost value is the aspect of depreciation factored in.

Licensed Miramar public adjusters want you to always be knowledgeable about exactly which kind of coverage you have, whether it be actual cash value or replacement cost. If you need guidance or assistance reviewing your homeowner’s or commercial property insurance coverage, contact Steven Venook at Advocate Claims at 954-369-0573. Steven Venook has been serving homeowners and commercial business owners for over a decade, making sure that they get the best possible return when filing a property damage insurance claim. Advocate Claims is a member of the Better Business Bureau and can give you guidance and insight when reviewing your insurance policy.

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Assessing Your Property Insurance Policy for the New Year

It’s a new year and for South Florida residents, it has already brought a slew of tornadoes and torrential downpour. Sure, losing weight and saving money are great New Year’s resolutions, but have you ever thought to reassess your residential or commercial property insurance for the New Year?

Your insurance needs change each year, and often so does the insurance policy language. The last thing that you, your family, or your business should have to worry about is if you have enough coverage in order to handle emergency expenses, should they arise.

The licensed public adjusters at Advocate Claims in Coconut Creek, Florida recommend that all homeowners and business owners reevaluate their property insurance policies each year in order to make sure that they are accurately covered and not overpaying.

Here are some tips from professional public adjusters on how you can update your residential or commercial property insurance policy:

– Spring clean and then take inventory of all of your most valuable possessions. This inventory will come in handy in the unfortunate event that you have to submit a claim for items damaged, lost or stolen.

– Since the holidays have just passed and you may have received that expensive flat screen TV, tablet, or new washer and dryer from your wish list, you will want to make sure that these pricey items are covered under your homeowner’s insurance policy.

– Submit your updated inventory list to your insurance agent and keep a copy for your records in a fireproof security box with all other important documents.model-house-on-dollars-000019545571_Medium

Many licensed public adjusters in South Florida also suggest that you complete essential updates to your home and/or office building such as new locks, doors, and windows in order to help prevent against theft and damage from natural disasters, inclement weather, or accidents.

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How Is Recoverable Depreciation Computed?

A lot of homeowners and business owners that Advocate Claims Public Adjusters come across wonder how to recover depreciation from an insurance claim. The very first thing that licensed public adjusters will tell you to do is check whether or not you even have recoverable depreciation. The majority of the time, a business or homeowner will have recoverable depreciation; however, sometimes it is non-recoverable because the policy owner has an Actual Cash Value Policy. Other times depreciation may not be recoverable are if repairs and replacement were not completed before a designated deadline.

Through hiring a licensed public adjuster in South Florida, you can verify if your depreciation is recoverable during your insurance adjustment or on the insurance declaration page or policy. If your depreciation is recoverable, the Replacement Cost Value of the repairs must be spent, and copies of invoices must be sent to the insurance company in order to indicate that the repairs and/or replacement has been completed. By doing this, it allows them to then release the recoverable depreciation to you.iStock_000002223592_Medium

In order to determine how the figures are calculated, Advocate Claims has an example for how recoverable depreciation is computed:

A home is insured for $100,000 and has completely damaged its roof due to a tornado. The cost to replace the roof (Replacement Cost Value) is $10,000. Let’s say the roof is 20 years old and the policy owner’s deductible is $1,000.

The insurance adjuster is going to depreciate the roof based on age, so let’s say 20%, making the Actual Cash Value of the roof $10,000 – $2,000 depreciation = $8,000

The recoverable depreciation would be the Replacement Cost Value – Actual Cash Value = $7,000 after the deductible is applied.

The insurance company will make a payment to the policy owner for $7,000 actual cash value towards replacing the roof.

After the roof has been replaced for the full Replacement Cost Value of $10,000 and the insurance company receives the invoice, they will release the recoverable depreciation of $2,000 to be reimbursed to you.

If you are unsure of the process of filing a residential or commercial property insurance claim and the calculations made during the settlement and repair/replacement cost process, contact Steven Venook at Advocate Claims, at 954-369-0573.

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Can the Insurance Company Treat Me Differently if I Hire a Public Adjuster?

When the unfortunate time comes to file a residential or commercial property insurance claim, a lot of individuals wonder if hiring a professional to help streamline the process will actually hinder them in the eyes of their insurance company. Luckily, this is not typically the case. In fact, that great saying “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” can really work to your benefit when filing an insurance claim, and is exactly what Advocate Claims Public Adjusters would do to help.

Licensed public adjusters are not here to hinder your insurance claim, but rather to maximize it wherever possible. Whether it be through a more detailed and valuable assessment of your property damages, or making sure that no step is missed when filing your insurance claim, public adjusters in South Florida are there to help be professional middlemen in the process, being the source of knowledge while filing claims.

Hiring a public adjuster rather than simply going with the one appointed by the insurance company will allow for proper documentation, proper filing, knowledge for finding reputable contractors that are not associated with the insurance company, as well as reaching a more proper settlement in order for you to repair your residential or commercial property as quickly as possible.

Steven Venook, of Advocate Claims Public Adjusters in Coconut Creek, Florida, has been settling residential and commercial property damage insurance claims for over a decade. With extensive experience, Venook suggests that in the event that you feel as if your insurance company is treating you unfairly, you may file a complaint with the insurance regulatory agency of Florida.

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Why Does My Insurance Check Have the Mortgage Company Name on It?

After going through the entire process of filing a homeowner’s insurance claim with your South Florida public adjuster, you may notice that your insurance check has your mortgage company’s name on it, and be curious why.  Although you may think you own your home, in reality, if you have a mortgage, the mortgage company has a substantial amount of interest in your property, therefore requiring you to carry insurance on the property. If you pay close attention to your homeowner’s insurance policy, you will notice that your mortgage company is listed as the lienholder.

Knowing all of the aforementioned information, if your home is damaged, your insurance company may issue a check for the repairs, but the check will be made to both you and your mortgage company. In fact, the insurance company issues payment to everyone who has a financial interest in the property, so it may be addressed to your mortgage company, you, and your spouse if you are married. So, what does this mean? When it comes time for repairs, you will have to work in communication and cooperation with your mortgage company in order to cash the check and get money to pay for repairs. Most banks will not cash the check without the signatures of all parties involved, so you will need to endorse the check and then send it to your mortgage company for them to endorse as well.

The professional public adjusters at Advocate Claims recommend that in order to receive the proper amount of money necessary to make repairs on your home, that you submit a request to your mortgage company for money to give deposits to contractors, as well as discuss the increments in which you will receive funds from your escrow account.iStock_000007215628_Medium

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