Fire Damage from Arson: Michael’s Story

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, arson is defined as “any willful or malicious burning or attempting to burn, with or without intent to defraud, a dwelling house, public building, motor vehicle or aircraft, personal property of another, etc.”  The FBI reports that over 50,000 arson incidents are reported each year in the United States, and many more go unreported or unidentified.  Michael was one of these statistics.

Michael owns and manages several properties in Florida.  One evening, one of his properties experienced a break in, in which the property was robbed.   The unidentified assailant then ignitedAdvocateClaims.jpg a container of accelerant, which quickly ignited a fire.  The space was leased to a vehicle repossession agent, which was possibly the cause of the bad blood.  Michael, being the owner, simply held the paper on the property and was about to experience the hazards of such a misdirected attack.

Because two crimes were committed at the property, the fire damage claim process itself had become more complicated for Michael.  Michael experienced delays in receiving his claim from the start. His insurance company requested the official Fire Marshall’s report (which normally takes several months to obtain) before they would reach any kind of settlement.  Once the report was finally received by the insurance company, they not only offered a settlement that was less than the cost of remediating the property, they also made Michael suffer several months of lost rent from the period of time the insurance company had taken to deliver the insufficient settlement!  It had seemed that Michael’s luck had gone from bad to worse.

Michael then contacted Steven at Advocate Claims Public Adjusters to see if it would be possible to reach a fair result from the insurance company.

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“At that point, I didn’t have much confidence in the insurance company coming back with a fair settlement.  The system seemed broken to me” said Michael.

Steven was able to quickly assess the damage, both physical and fiscal, meaning he not only evaluated the loss to the property, but also the loss that Michael had experienced as a result of the fire, particularly the lost rent.  After negotiating with the insurance company, Steven reached a result that covered the TOTAL LOSS that Michael experienced.

“This was the best result possible” said Michael.

To learn more about how a public adjuster can add a great deal of value to your insurance claim, contact Steven Venook at Advocate Claims Public Adjusters at 954-369-0573 or email him at info@advocateclaims.com

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Selecting a Public Adjuster, Part 2

Outline the details of your policy and claim

Is the level of your current insurance coverage appropriate for the property?

Looking forward, are there any changes to the policy that need to be made?

What are the details of my policy?

How much coverage is allocated for each affected piece of my claim?

What is the fee structure when enlisting the help of a public adjuster?  (Keep in mind, in most cases, the benefit far exceeds the cost)
Does the fee amount apply to the total claim or particular segments? (ex. loss of revenue or strictly structural)

Set communication expectations

How and when will I receive updates on my claim?  As they happen or on a weekly and monthly basis?

What mode of communications easiest and most efficient for both parties? (email, phone, office meeting…)
Will there be one point of contact or multiple points of contact?  If applicable, who are these people and what parts of the claim will they be the contact for?
Will I be notified each time a decision is made or are there decisions that do not need my approval?  What are some examples of these?

Ensure the public adjuster understands your motivations

Convey your rationale for selecting to proceed with a public adjuster.  What are your “hot buttons”?

Time and convenience? Is your primary impetus of enlisting the help of a public adjuster to streamline the process without taking much of your time and effort to have the loss remediated?  In many cases, homeowners do not have the bandwidth to deal with such a loss while maintaining their already busy lifestyle.  There are many things that can be damaged that need to be tended to, outside of tangible damage.

Need to recover additional money to remediate the loss? This is most often the driving force to contact a public adjuster.  In many cases, the homeowner is left with a damaged home and insufficient funds to make repairs, essentially forcing them to identify a solution to the problem, which is often a public adjuster.

Leave it to the experts? Many select a public adjuster because major loss is a rare event for most homeowners.  They may have never gone through the process and/or have little understanding of what is involved. Additionally, a public adjuster can recommend a course of action at each step of the process.  Another thing to remember is that a public adjuster holds negotiating power that a homeowner may not have.  Remember, they do this for a living. The experts can most often arrive at a better result, even after fees for their services.

Take your time

If time permits, carefully review the credentials and results of your public adjusters and ensure you are comfortable with the relationship.  You will be working with this public adjuster for a period of time so it is important to make sure that it is a good fit for both parties.

Provided by Steven Venook at Advocate Claims Public Adjusters.  Contact him to learn more at 954-369-0573.

 

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Selecting a Public Adjuster, Part 1

Experience and results dealing with your loss type.

Perhaps the most important key to evaluating a public adjuster is to evaluate the results they have produced in dealing with a loss like yours.

How many years of experience?

How many cases?

What were the results of these cases?

Ask for References

“Trust, but verify.”  The financial result may not be the only measure of success in retaining a public adjuster.  Ask for references to ensure the clients’ experience was as it was perceived by the public adjuster.  Ask about challenges or unexpected bumps in the road that may have occurred.  References from the public adjuster are useless if they serve 100 clients and 90 of them have a negative interaction, but the adjuster offers you the testimonials of the 10 satisfied clients.

What groups are they associated with?

A good first step is to see if the adjuster is registered with the Better Business Bureau.  This is a good source of information relating to the quality of service delivered.  Next, examine industry-specific groups.  the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA), the American Association of Public Insurance Adjusters AAPIA), and/or state-specific groups like the Florida Association of Insurance Public Adjusters (FAIPA) can be a great way to identify a public adjuster and offer information on their current standing.  The more local your search, the more accurate the information will be.

Examine their website and online reputation

Most good public adjusters will have a good website, complete with good testimonials.  Some other sources to check would be: the ratings on Google, Yahoo, Yelp, Angie’s List, and any other information you find online.  An unsatisfied client is 6 times more likely to voice their discontent online than a satisfied client, so negative reviews should be fairly easy to find.

Interview your public adjuster

Some questions to be considered are as follows:

Are you licensed/bonded/insured?
What does your team evaluating my loss look like?

Is there anything that differentiates you from other public adjusters?
What was your most successful result in this type of claim?

What was your least successful result?

See Selecting a Public Adjuster, Part 2 

Provided by Steven Venook at Advocate Claims Public Adjusters.  Contact him to learn more at 954-369-0573.

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Bathroom Leak in Palm Beach: David’s Story

David experienced a bathroom leak from his family’s second floor bathroom.  The leak resulted in damage to the bathroom, upstairs carpeting, and the downstairs living room ceiling and walls.   David’s insurance company was quick to offer his family $4,749.00 for a total settlement.  After the deductible and depreciation was applied, David was left with a mere $2,249.00 to remediate the extensive damages to his home. 

“The extent of the damage was minimized by our insurance company before they took appropriate measures to examine what had actually occurred to, and within, the structure.  Water can cause a cascade of issues that needed to be carefully examined,” said David.

For David, time was of the essence.  His family needed a fully-functional home, mechanically and cosmetically, as soon as possible. 

“It is where we live 24-7, and because of this incident we were not made whole by the claim process.  This was not acceptable, so I looked into what else we could do to make this right,” he said. 

That was when David contacted Steven at Advocate Claims Public Adjusters.  Initially, after the difficulties David and his family had been through, he was hesitant to retain Steven for his claim because of the additional time that was needed to complete the process.

AdvocateClaims“We had already been through so much,” explained David.

Advocate Claims’ Public Adjusters described the process and why the claim would take additional time to remediate.  Steven described the steps required and noted that the insurance company is in no hurry to dole out additional monies.  Steven would be required to reevaluate and present the claim to the insurance company, piece by piece.  David agreed, and Steven and his team got to work on David’s case. 

“At the end of the day, the extra time was well worth it,” said David.  Steven and his team secured a claim over 400% greater than the initial settlement, allowing David to properly remediate his loss and return to a sense of normalcy in his home, as soon as possible. 

A claim is filled with challenges; Advocate Claims’ Public Adjusters can guide you and your family to the fastest, most accurate, and fairest settlement for your loss.  If you recently suffered water damage and need help filing an insurance claim, we can help. Give the Public Adjusters at Advocate Claims a call today, at 954-369-0573.

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Using Modern Technology to Investigate Claims

Advocate Claims Public Adjusters of Florida

When you have a Florida Homeowners Insurance Claim, the Insurance Company is going to send an Adjuster to investigate the claim on behalf of the insurance group.  The policy and laws state that the Insurance Carrier is responsible to fully investigate the claim.   Almost without fail, insurance companies in Florida fail to fully investigate claims.

On a recent Miami insurance claim, Advocate Claims met the insurance company Adjuster.  The claim dealt with water damage.  We counted twenty-one occasions where the Adjuster said, “I don’t believe there is water behind this wall.”   (Picture of thermal scan)

Upon finishing the walk through, we asked the Adjuster to walk the property as we used a Thermal Imaging Camera.  In 18 of the 21 walls where the adjuster did not “believe” there was water behind the wall, the imaging showed clear signs of water damage.  The insurance claim was over $39,000 higher than originally expected.  This change is mostly because Advocate Claims, as the Public Adjuster, was able to use advanced technology to prove the real damage in the insurance claim process.

We estimate that fewer than 5% of Public Adjusters and less than 1% of insurance adjusters use this technology in Florida.

If you had your choice of doctor, you would always go to the one with the best technology for finding and treating your illness.  You would not get your hair cut from someone who was using dull scissors.  You would not buy a meal from a kitchen that half cooked your meal.  There is no reason why you should get thousands less on your insurance claim because the insurance carrier does not dedicate technology and training to fully investigate your damages.

When Advocate Claims fully investigates a claim, we turn over credible evidence of all damages to the insurance company. Most of the time, we do not have to engage in a “fight” for your claim simply because we have documented ever bit of the damage that is rightfully payable by your Florida Homeowners Insurance Policy.

Your insurance company will send someone to assess the damage to your home.  The Adjuster will, more often than not, provide you with an insurance payout based on the most obvious damage.  The insurance carrier adjusters generally do not use moisture meters, wall cavity investigation (actually tearing open a wall), or thermal imaging.  It is not hard to understand why the insurance company does not use technology to find all of the damage.

Advocate Claims specializes in maximizing Florida insurance claims with verifiable data to prove the damaged conditions.  There is no distance we will not go in order to find the true nature of the damages to your home or business.  As your Public Adjuster, we stand guard of your largest family assets, and have decades of experience in negotiating with insurance companies for the best possible outcome for our clients.

Your insurance company wants you to take a low settlement for your Florida Homeowners Insurance Claim.  Only a Public Adjuster works strictly for you in the insurance claim process.  Advocate Claims, acting as a skilled Florida Public Adjuster, has the accolades of many.  Learn more here (insert links)

We stand ready to handle any kind of claim: wind, water, mold, tree damage, plumbing leaks, vandalism, fire, and all other property insurance perils.  Each of these types of insurance claims have special characteristics and knowledge that Advocate Claims can address, with success.

Call Advocate Claims Public Adjusters at 954-369-0573 when you have a Florida Insurance claim.

“Empowering the policyholder”

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Florida Insurance Claims Need Proper Investigation

A reasonable investigation of all conditions to find damage, is the obligation of the Insurance Company Adjuster.  Adjusters should never turn a blind eye, but all too often, this is exactly what Advocate Claims finds when taking on the task of being a Public Adjuster who represents the policy owner only.

As the home or business owner, you have “duties under your policy”, you must:

  • Report the Loss
  • Contain or limit further damage in a reasonable manner.

The Insurance Company has “duties” as well.

  • Allow for timely reporting of the claim.
  • Provide a prompt response by sending an insurance company adjuster to the home.
  • Fully investigate the damage
  • Provide adequate funding for repair, as per the policy provisions.

In the new world of Insurance Claims in Florida, the Insurance Companies have taken a “light” version of these responsibilities as the standard method of working on a home or business claim.  In practical application, some, if not all of the following occur with regularity:

  • The insurance company adjuster fails to fully locate all of the damage, relying on the homeowner to locate all of the structural damage and specify it to the Adjuster. Anything that the owner misses may be completely left out of the claim payment.
  • The insurance company sends someone other than a licensed adjuster to assess the claim. In Florida, this is especially prevalent.
  • The Insurance Company fails to use technology, moisture meters, structural integrity checks, thermal cameras, and etcetera, to fully investigate the claim.
  • The insurance company adjuster assesses the value of damaged property lower than it is, and lower than it should be.
  • Denial of the claim based on “late reporting,” characterizing the claim as “not valid” due to a specific peril.

When you hire Advocate Claims as your Public Adjuster, the Insurance Company’s “light” investigation of your insurance claim is replaced by a proper and well documented claim process.

  • Advocate Claims investigates the cause of the loss, which will be a single event that generally caused the initial damages to your home or business.
  • Advocate Claims investigates all subsequent damages caused by the single event. It is like a domino effect, cascading through the structure.

When Advocate Claims investigates a claim, we look for the point of origin and track the damage to the last location of damage. Chances are high, that your insurance company lacks the will, or the technology, to adequately investigate and allocate the cost for the entire claim.

At Advocate Claims, we see Florida Home Owner and Business insurance claims as science projects; we settle claims for what they are worth, not by gaming the system, but by documenting the true cost of all repairs allowed under the insurance policy. There is research that shows that Public Adjusters in Florida commonly raise insurance payouts.  At Advocate Claims, we enjoy our success rate in getting our clients the proper amount of money that is needed to repair damages.

If you feel that your insurance company is not properly handling your claim, the worst thing that you can do is wait, hope, and wish. Be sure to take notes of all persons that you have talked to about your claim, including the names and license numbers of every person that you encounter on the phone and in person, then call Advocate Claims.

We stand ready to handle any kind of claim: wind, water, mold, tree damage, plumbing leaks, vandalism, fire, and all other property insurance perils.  Each of these types of insurance claims have special characteristics and associated knowledge, which Advocate Claims can address, with success.

As a Florida Public Adjuster, Advocate Claims can only represent the home or business owner.  As your Florida Public Adjuster, Advocate Claims cannot receive payments from any other party.

As a Florida Public Adjuster, Advocate Claims will not accept payment for services prior to collecting funds for the claim.  There is no up front cost to deal with Advocate Claims as your Florida Public Adjuster.

As your Public Adjuster, Advocate Claims settles Florida Claims in a way that does not leave the homeowner or business owner holding the bag for under paid claims.

Call Advocate Claims’ Public Adjusters at 954-369-0573 when you have a Florida Insurance claim.

“Empowering the policyholder”

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Florida Homeowner Insurance Claims Ruled by Fear

We find, so often, that insurance claims are ruled by fear. Insurance companies do subtle and overt things that make you feel that it is wrong or hard to file a claim.  Sometimes, this process feels like something you should pull back from, without good reason.

Last week, we were called by a homeowner in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  The owner’s insurance company adjuster asked, “are you certain that you want to file this claim, I doubt your roof is really damaged, and your claim may be denied; you could even get into some fraud problems if there is nothing to this claim.  Do you still want to file the claim?” Advocate Claims handled this claim, found real damage, and we are close to a final settlement. The fear tactics were unwarranted and very unprofessional, but extremely common from insurance company adjusters.

Insurance companies benefit wildly by implementing subtle strategies of fear and “do nothing,” to dispel them in the market. Some of these fears surround your rates going up, you losing your policy, the carrier dropping you, or even you being accused of fraud for demanding that your insurance company treat you fairly.  

We propose to you a simple strategy to avoid most, if not all of these fears regarding your insurance claim. We suggest that you contact Advocate Claims to get an understanding of how using a public adjuster can best serve you; who will work for you and not for your insurance company. Your insurance company hires a professional to represent their interests. It only makes sense that you should have someone advocating for your interests and only your interests when filing your homeowner’s insurance claim.

By calling Advocate Claims’ Public Adjusters, we will help you determine if your claim is worth reporting before you put a claim on your record!

Let’s go over specific fears and the realities of each for your Florida Homeowners Insurance claim…

Fear that your rates will go up

Your rates on your Florida homeowners insurance can be raised as much as 2% for filing or discussing a claim with your insurance carrier. As your public adjuster, we can make sure that filing a claim is legitimate and warranted for you to do.  Even if you do not file a claim, investigating a potential claim with your insurance company can cause your rates to go up. Advocate Claims can help you avoid this problem by investigating and completing claims that make sense.  

Fear that you will be dropped by your Insurance Company

Your Florida homeowners insurance company can choose not to renew your policy upon its termination date.  Without fraud, the company cannot simply dismiss your policy because you filed a claim. 

Fear of hiring a Public Adjuster or an Attorney because there will be retribution by the insurance company.

Your insurance company does not want you to hire a public adjuster or an attorney for one simple reason: when you get help by professionals, the insurance company has to act in a kind manner in order to avoid legal and regulatory traps. It would be an ethics violation if a company or independent adjuster suggests that you should not hire your own private adjuster.

As a homeowner, research suggests that you may only have 4 homeowner insurance claims in a lifetime.  At Advocate Claims, we handle four claims before lunch.  Chances are good that Advocate Claims is more experienced than the adjuster your insurance company sends out to your home, business, or commercial property.

The insurance company cannot sanction you for hiring advocates to help with your claim process.  This is a fear that is not realized when competent Public Adjusters and Attorneys work Florida Insurance Claims.

Fear that you will be accused of fraud – for demanding to be treated fairly.

Albeit rare, it is just a threat; this is a fear tactic that holds no merit or actual practice.  What if you called the fire department and said, “Come quick my house is on fire,” only to get a response of, “if it is not on fire, that is fraud, and you could get in trouble, are you sure you still want us to come?” 

When your insurance company uses such a ploy, contact Advocate Claims; you need a qualified and powerful Public Adjuster on your side. 

Fear for not using the Insurance Company’s Contractor

More and more insurance carriers are trying to get repairs handled by their own contractors.  These contractors work for the carrier and not for you, which takes power out of your hands.  This is another way that your insurance company is controlling your insurance claim, to benefit their bottom line.   

You do not have to use these contractors, and it does not limit your ability to get a reasonable and fair settlement for your claim.   

As a Florida Public Adjuster, Advocate Claims can only represent the home or business owner.  As your Florida Public Adjuster, Advocate Claims cannot receive payments from any other party. 

 

As a Florida Public Adjuster, Advocate Claims will not accept payment for services, prior to collecting funds for the claim.  There is no upfront cost to deal with Advocate Claims as your Florida Public Adjuster.

 

As your Public Adjuster, Advocate Claims settles Florida Claims in a way that does not leave the homeowner or business owner holding the bag for under paid claims. 

Call Advocate Claims’ Public Adjusters 954-369-0573 when you have a Florida Insurance claim.

 

                                              “Empowering the policyholder”

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Why Won’t My Insurance Company Pay My Claim?

Why Won’t my Insurance Company Pay My Claim?

A quick Google search shows that you are not alone in asking that question.  There are nearly 45 MILLION results discussing exactly that, and likely as many reasons why insurance companies think they do not have to pay your claim. 

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It can be easy to see why.  Insurance companies have little incentive to offer their clients an appropriate settlement immediately after a loss.  There are few (or no) consequences an insurance company would face for an inadequate settlement that comes back to the company.  Additionally, their clients, those who have suffered the loss, are highly inexperienced.  Large losses are infrequent and many homeowners do not question the initial settlements.  It is simply a matter of insurance companies taking advantage of their own customers. 

How can I be sure that I get the proper settlement for my loss?

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Again, you would not be alone in asking this! Google offers almost 55 MILLION results.  The spectrum of different types and severity of loss make this a complicated question, but the answer (in most cases) is to enlist the guidance of a public adjuster.  A public adjuster can not only guide you through the claim process, ensuring that the appropriate measures are taken to get you the fairest settlement possible, they can also act as an advisor to guide you through the process and recommend a course of action, including using their vast collection of industry contacts. 

How can I Identify a public adjustment claim adjustment service?

Fortunately, there is one answer that will deliver the best possible result after your property is damaged.     

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Advocate Claims’ Public Adjusters have over one decade of experience aiding homeowners after they have experienced damage to their homes.  If you have any questions regarding the role that a public adjuster can play in returning your property to normalcy as quickly as possible after your loss, please contact Steven Venook of Advocate Claims Public Adjusters at 954-369-0573.

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Water Damage in Stuart, FL: Virginia’s Story

Water damage is the second most common cause of homeowner loss, caused mainly by plumbing failures, freezing pipes, and storm damage.   Water-related loss is responsible for over $5 billion in annual homeowner property losses each year, approximately 23% of all homeowner property losses. 

These figures are all too familiar for Virginia of Stewart Florida.  Hers is a story that has been seen time and time again, particularly in Florida.  After she discovered the water damage, Virginia contacted a plumber to identify the issue, who then referred her to a water extraction company.   As we have seen many times, the water extraction company over-charged the insurance company for their services.  Of course, this causes the insurance company to feel as though they had fulfilled their obligation to Virginia.  After consulting with a contracting company, Virginia learned that the settlement was not nearly enough to remediate her damage.  “I was out of options and did not think I would be able to get any more money from the insurance company.  I didn’t know what to do, and then I was referred to Steven at Advocate Claims Public Adjusters.  That’s when I saw the light at the end of the tunnel and knew that a resolution was possible,” said Virginia.

Steven and his team reviewed the damages and found exactly what Virginia had suspected.  The settlement was not sufficient to repair her townhome.  After discovering this and negotiating with the insurance company, Advocate Claims’ Public Adjusters were able to acquire the appropriate amount to repair Virginia’s home. 

AdvocateClaims“I was surprised at how quick the settlement was reached after Steven got involved.  I couldn’t have asked for a better result.  Make Steven your first call after damage to your property and he will make it right!”

Regardless of your type of loss, a public adjuster can act as your adviser and advocate throughout the process.  Advocate Claims’ Public Adjusters have been serving Florida homeowners for over 10 years.  Call Steven today at 954-369-0573 for more information. 

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Will My Rates Go Up if I File a Claim?

Will My Homeowners Insurance Rates go up if I File a Claim?

Many homeowners across Florida worry that simply filing a claim after years of having insurance coverage, will cause an increase in their Homeowners Insurance Premiums.  Regretfully, the fear is legitimate for Floridians.  Thankfully, there are ways to avoid problems and expensive increases in the cost to insure homes in Florida.

It is factual that filing a homeowner’s insurance claim can trigger an increase.  While some states will allow insurance carriers to move rates higher, by as much as 40%, Florida insurance carriers can raise rates by 2% after filing a claim.

A strong caution should be given: these increases can happen by simply calling your insurance company, even if the result of the call was not filing a claim.  Imagine how angry you would be to find you had cost your family money, for no more coverage, just because you called your insurance company for advice!  As your Public Adjuster, Advocate Claims works directly for you, not the insurance carrier.  We can help to steer you the right way, to avoid a premium increase when possible and logical.

How to avoid increases in Homeowner Insurance Claims in Florida:

  • Call Advocate Claims first, for a free assessment of your claim. Do not call your insurance carrier prior to calling us for an assessment.  Simply calling the insurance carrier could cause an increase in your insurance rates. 
  • Work with Advocate Claims to understand the full cost of the repairs and the coverage that your insurance company is obligated to pay. 
  • Only call your insurance carrier once we have assessed the claim and can show a clear benefit to the homeowner for filing the claim.

The insurance process is often unfair.  Your insurance carrier in Florida will send a professional representative called an Adjuster.  This Adjuster represents the Insurance Company only.  As your Public Adjuster, we only represent you, the home or business owner.

It will cost you nothing to access our expert assessment of your possible insurance claim.  As your Public Adjuster, we will only charge fees for our services once we have successfully settled your claim, representing only your interests.

It is not uncommon for your insurance carrier to minimize the total cost of repair for your claim. On a recent claim we handled in Miami Florida, the insurance carrier stated a fallen tree and subsequent repairs would “likely be less than the deductible.”  This statement made the home owner believe that she would be left with $8,700 in repair costs.  We took over the claim and found that the damage was far greater than initially surveyed by the insurance adjuster.  We settled the claim for $37,250.

The home owner had already initiated the process that was going to raise her insurance rates.  Simply calling sometimes starts this process.  Once Advocate Claims took over, we were able to help in calling the insurance company and quickly getting to the real dollars necessary for the repair costs. In this case, the homeowner may have invited a 2% increase in her insurance premiums in Florida.  That being said, after her insurance carrier paid out $37,500, the 2% increase is not as hard to take.

No matter how small or large the damages are to your home or business, before calling your insurance carrier, it is wise to call Advocate Claims in Florida. We can help to avoid useless increases to your insurance rates, and help to maximize your claim to make full repairs, quick, getting you every dollar your policy allows for your claim.

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