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About: alicebrown

Name  :  Alice Young
E-mail  :  alice@brown-ohaver.com
Website  : 
Profile  :  Alice Young is the Manager of Brown - O'Haver's Oklahoma City Office. She has worked in the public adjusting business since she was 16 years old participating in the preparation of inventories from burned-out homes. Alice also has served in managerial positions of two of the largest retail chains in the world, lending expertise to her abilities in commercial claim property valuation.

Posts by alicebrown:

Insurance Issues Related to Working From Home.

Due to the Covid-19 Virus, many people are working from home.  I know, I am.  Even though our office is staffed behind a locked front door entrance with only two visitors allowed at any one time some of us are working from home.  We have purchased some great software that allows us to access our office computers from our homes.  However, since my business is adjusting claims for the benefit of insureds (as opposed to someone who adjusts claims for the benefit or insurance companies), I would pose the question: how does all of this working from home impact in relation to insurance?

As a public adjuster who has been around a long time, please know I have seen the underbelly of the insurance industry.  I have seen insurers deny claims because a business was run out of an insured’s home.  Particularly painful was an experience I witnessed when a major insurer denied a fire claim because the insured, who would become our client, sewed uniforms for the Old Tucson Amusement Park which her insurer considered as operating a business from her home.  It took me a year to get that one resolved in her favor but sometimes it is more difficult to do so.  

I can’t tell you of the difficulty I had with an insured’s claim when the insured hired us when her claim had gone to never-never land.  She had several horses and, yes, she sold one of those baby horses after it was born.  Her insurance company would not pay the claim because they said she was operating a horse business at her home.  My arguments didn’t amount to much to this insurer even though they were right on the law.  We eventually had to talk to a judge who taught the insurer a lesson.  Yes we won big on that one.

Of course you have all heard of the home marijuana-grower whose house has caught on fire.  Those claims are (nearly) always denied and not because of an illegal activity (in some states it is not illegal) but the claim is denied because the insured is “operating a business” out of his or her home.

As a result of my experience, I would recommend a quick email to your insurance agent just putting him or her on notice that you will be working from home.  Also, I would be very careful letting someone come into your home and not just because of fears of contracting the virus but because it gives the appearance of running a business out of your home.

There is also another risk to cause concern:  Cyber Attacks.

Everyone gets email phishing attacks and unless your like Leon Panetta who gave the “Phishers” his login info so they could get Hillary Clinton’s emails, you have probably just erased those phishing emails.  However, the “Phishers” are becoming more and more sophisticated in breaking into and otherwise hacking personal computers which we use to interface in our offices.  Here’s the deal: if you are working from home, you, or your employer, must secure your home internet connection that connects to your office computer.

Our Brown – O’Haver office is secure and is not conducive to anyone hacking in.  We have a VPN (Virtual Private Network) Connection and a router.  Our homes do not so in order to secure our home computers I contacted our friendly computer consultant.  He came to my home and installed a new router available from Amazon for around $70.00.  My home connection is now secure and tomorrow he will go to my assistant’s home to install a Router there. 

“It all comes down to access points,” CyberScout Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Leuer said in a prepared statement. “For every WiFi network that an employee signs on to, they are creating an additional access point for hackers to infiltrate your business systems.

Many business insurance policies address Cyber Security coverage but, if you can, you don’t want to go there.  You don’t want to expose yourself or your employees to another type of risk – cyber attacks. Due to the exposure of COVID-19, thousands of people in the U.S. are having to adjust from working around other people to working within the confines of their homes. Now they may also be exposing themselves to another type of risk – cyber attacks.

Protect yourself from the “evil-doers” who would hack your system and might even demand “ransom-ware” to get your system to come back on line after they have shut it down.

Difference Between Company, Independent and Public Adjuster

When a person has an insurance loss their insurance company will assign an adjuster to the handle the claim. Insurance departments in (almost) all states license three different kind of adjusters: company, independent, and public. It is important to understand the difference between these adjusters when handling your claim. This is a confusing concept for many people because in initial contact with the insurance company the insurance company representative will state that they are sending out “your” adjuster. However, what they actually mean is “their” adjuster who will be adjusting your claim.

What is a Company Adjuster?

A “company adjuster” means the insurance adjusters who are employees of an insurance company. They represent the interest of the insurance company and are paid by the insurance company. They will not charge you a fee. 

What is an Independent Adjuster?

An “independent adjuster” means the insurance adjusters who are hired on a contract basis by an insurance company to represent the insurance company’s interest in the settlement of the claim. They are paid by your insurance company. They will not charge you a fee.

What is a Public Adjuster?

A “public adjuster” means the insurance adjusters who do not work for any insurance company. They work for the insured to assist in the preparation, presentation and settlement of the claim. The insured hires them by signing a contract agreeing to pay them a fee or commission based on a percentage of the settlement, or other method of compensation. The insured is not required to hire a public adjuster to help the insured meet his or her obligations under the policy, but has the right to do so; The public adjuster is not a representative or employee of the insurer; and the salary, fee, commission or other consideration is the obligation of the insured, not the insurer.

The biggest difference between a company adjuster and an independent adjuster is that an independent adjuster works on a contract basis. Independent adjusters are typically used in catastrophe circumstances or for smaller insurance companies that do not have local offices. While they are hired on a contract basis they do work for the insurance company and they work on their behalf. If an insurance company hires an independent adjuster to adjust the claim for them and you do not hire a public adjuster you are representing yourself on the claim just as you would if it was a company adjuster.

The central difference between a company and independent adjuster and a public adjuster is that the insured hires a public adjuster directly. The company and independent adjuster is hired by the insurance company and they are paid by the insurance company. The public adjuster is hired and paid by the insured and therefore the public adjuster represents the insured’s interest whereas the company and independent adjuster represent the interest of the insurance carrier.

If you only have a company or independent adjuster on your claim you need to be heavily involved in your claim to make sure you are representing yourself on your claim. Alternatively, you can hire a public adjuster for Arizona and Oklahoma to handle the claim to represent your interest.

Who Pays for Your Restoration Services?

When a person experiences an insured loss,  one of the first things that they might notice is a restoration company coming out on behalf of the insurer. Sometimes, however, a homeowner might invite them out.

If the insured is the victim of a fire,  they might find that a restoration company might be listening to a scanner to gather the information that will help them land a job. Once a restoration company comes to a loss they typically will want to pack out the contents of the home, clean, and store them. These services might be quite expensive. Rarely if never does a restoration company offer an estimate before they begin these services.

One of the biggest misnomers I hear about restoration companies is that “the insurance company pays for their services”. The restoration company can get away with saying this because it does come out of the insured’s coverage from their insurance policy however it is not paid outside of that coverage.

What exactly does that mean? Let’s look at an example.

A client has an insurance policy with $150,000 worth of content coverage. The client has a fire at their home. The home is badly destroyed but there are some smoke damaged items that might possibly be able to be restored. A restoration company could come and pack out clothes and items that appear that they can be cleaned when in fact, some of the items taken should not and cannot be cleaned.

The restoration will clean these items and stores them until the repair work on the home is complete. The total bill for the restoration company is $15,000 for the packing out of the items, $10,000 for the cleaning of home goods, $10,000 for the textile cleaning, and $5,000 for the pack back (all of these numbers are incredibly realistic and common to what we typically see). The final bill from the restoration company is $40,000. That amount is paid directly to the restoration company FROM the insured’s policy. Therefore, the amount of coverage left for items that need to be “cashed out” is $110,000.

The insured is tasked to prepare a full inventory of the damaged items that could NOT be restored. The total damage is $200,000 and after depreciation, the loss is $150,000. The insured DOES NOT get a check for the full amount of damage. Remember, the restoration company gets paid off the top. The insured can only get the remaining $110,000 and the items that were cleaned. Many people find that the cleaned items are never the same after a large fire.

There is a time and a place for restoration companies and many people want to attempt saving some of their items. The question that needs to be asked is how much is it going to cost and would you rather pay a company that or be paid that directly?  Restoration services are expensive and an insured has a right to know what THEIR insurance policy is going to pay for those services. No person would ever purchase a car without knowing how much it will cost. That is the same way that you should treat restoration services as the cost is usually pretty close to the purchase of a car. You,  as an insured,  have a right to obtain an estimate of services before you agree having your items packed out, cleaned, and stored. Once you have the estimate you can choose to hire a restoration company to do the work or you can ask to be paid directly for the services they would supply based upon the estimate.  At that point you can choose how you want to have the work completed.

Following this method is especially handy if you have low policy limits or you have a claim that is close to those policy limits. The biggest thing to remember when you have an insurance claim is that you have rights. It is your contract with the insurance company. A contract of insurance is a two-way street where both parties have rights and obligations. Every decision you make will impact your total claim. Do not feel pressured to go with a restoration company immediately. If it were me, I would secure my home and belongings, get an estimate, and then make an educated decision. Remember, if someone tells you that, “the insurance company will pay for it” what they actually mean is YOUR insurance policy will pay for it.