Many residents and business owners have recently learned the hard way that dealing with insurance companies can be quite a hassle, especially after a major natural disaster such as Superstorm Sandy.
Nearly 85 percent of the area’s homeowners’ insurance claims have been settled. However, only about 30 percent of the area’s flood claims have been paid out.
When the storm first hit the area insurance companies were so overwhelmed by claims that they simply did not have enough in-house insurance adjusters to take on the additional labor. Independent adjusters contracted by insurance companies to take on some of the extra work were few and far between, as well.
Immediately after the storm, the state issued emergency licenses to public adjusters who are not currently licensed in New Jersey. The Island was inundated with public adjustment companies from out of the area, as far away as Florida
Many of the on-call adjusters needed a place to stay, which was another major issue since housing itself was scarce. Residents in need of repairs often waited four to six weeks before they were able to meet with any type of adjuster. Some are still waiting.
Those in need of assistance in navigating their insurance claims have found extra help from local, licensed public adjusters. Their expertise has been highly recognized ever since the rigmarole of picking up the pieces after Sandy became too taxing a burden for some to endure.
The owner of a local Agency, said she is glad she chose a public adjuster.
Public adjusters are employed by insurance policyholders to help them appraise damages and negotiate their claims, thereby reducing the amount of hours and stress that often accompanies such a task.
Public adjusters help take the heartache out of the insurance claims process by meeting with the policyholders’ insurance agents to determine the cause of damages. Oftentimes, the insurance adjusters disagree on the source of damages, such as cracks in drywall, and what party is responsible for them, he stated.
Hiring experts such as engineers, contractors, industrial hygienists and other specialists to assess the damages and support the claims can also be handled by a public adjuster.
Many public adjusters are paid on contingency, which means their clients are not required to pay them unless the homeowner receive funds from their insurance companies. Fees vary, but usually range between 5 percent and 15 percent.
Public adjusters cannot provide any compensation for repairs that are not covered under the clients’ policy.
Individuals who no longer have a mortgage on their home or business and have dropped their flood insurance policies, yet suffered from a significant amount of flood damage during the storm, are not entitled to any of the benefits of flood insurance policies. In such a case, public adjusters can only recommend other types of relief through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other financial aid programs.
In some cases, people who do not think they have insurance actually do, as mortgage companies often force insurance policies on owners, sometimes unknown to the owners, and charge the fee through the mortgage payment. Public adjusters can help clients decipher whether or not that is the case.
Public adjusters can also help clients obtain an attorney in cases where a lawsuit against the insurance company is recommended.