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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:

How Can A Public Adjuster Get You A Better Settlement?

When I was younger and just a little bit cockier (or should I say confident?) I used to make a joke when people were considering hiring us. Potential clients would sometimes worry that we could or would somehow get the insurance company to increase an insurance settlement unfairly. My joke was, “I’m not good looking enough to get the insurance company to pay for something they don’t owe.” The sentiment is true. If we do not prove an insured’s loss, they are not getting paid more. Our job is to measure, document, and present the loss to the insurer. This response is why most insureds are not able to add to their recovery. They may know that the insurance company under-measured their loss but it’s hard to prove that and document it properly.

As public insurance adjusters, we measure your loss by doing our own estimate or in reviewing the insurance company’s estimate. We prove what the damage by presenting documentation that the loss occurred and what it would cost to repair or replace that item. An example of this on a structure claim insured on the building provision of the policy could be a disagreement on cabinets. For example, the Jones Family had a large fire. The insurance company might think that the kitchen cabinets can be cleaned, sealed and painted by a restoration company for $2,000. On our investigation, we find that the cabinets are custom cabinets and attached directly to the drywall of an exterior wall. The drywall and insulation behind the cabinets suffered smoke damage and, without removing the cabinets, a contractor cannot remove the drywall and insulation. Removing the custom cabinets will destroy the cabinets.

We can prove and document this by photographing and obtaining a letter from a contractor, restoration company and/or cabinet restorer. We will present the evidence in the pursuit of your claim. The insurance company can do one of two things: accept our proposition or present evidence to the contrary. However, if we’re right we’re right and the insurance company cannot present evidence to the contrary, that issue might be easily resolved. If the insurance company attempts to contact a contractor or cabinet restorer for a contrary opinion that contractor will need to be able to back up his or her position by being able to prove they can actually do the work that the insurer has suggested. Hence, if a contractor can not do the work in the way described it’s rare that the contractor will assert otherwise.

Now, considering the claim for personal property, let’s use an example of a theft claim. In theft claims an insured must somehow prove that they originally possessed the items. Gathering so much evidence can be difficult for an insured.

Now, considering the claim for personal property, let’s use an example of a theft claim. In theft claims an insured must somehow prove that they originally possessed the items. Gathering so much evidence can be difficult for an insured. As Public Insurance Adjusters will help comb through receipts, pictures, and accounts to get important evidence. A stolen watch? We might find you wearing it at a party a few years ago that you had posted on your Facebook. Thieves stole your kid’s XBOX 360? Your Best Buy account will probably have the original purchase date and price. Proving you had these items is half the battle and there is no magic in that, just hard investigative work.

Measuring and documenting a loss is every bit as tedious as processing your own taxes. Sure, you might do yourself but when you hire an expert you save both the time and the money in the long run.

Additional Living Expense: More Than Just Rent

After a loss, most policies have coverage that provides additional living expenses to the insured. Additional living expenses (ALE) is the coverage under a homeowner’s, condominium owner’s, or renter’s insurance policy that covers the additional costs of living that the policyholder incurs if the loss temporarily displaces the insured from their place of residence.

There are two important caveats here. First, it is the ADDITIONAL amount an insured spends to maintain the normal standard of living. Second, the loss must actually be INCURRED. The additional amount means the insurance company does not pay for your normal standard of living and also the additional amount you are spending. So, if you normally spend $500 a month on eating out and with your loss you are now spending $600, the insurance company only owes $100. This is because you would have spent the $500, regardless of whether you had a loss or not.

The second caveat is that the amount must be incurred. Hence, if a family member is letting you live in their home for free while you are rebuilding the home the insurance company is not responsible to pay. The only party that benefits from this type of arrangement is the insurance company. If you have insurance and the way to get Additional Living Expense payments is to incur the expense then you should make arrangements to do so.

If your family member is trying to “do you a favor” by not charging. they are actually doing the insurance company a favor even though you have paid premiums for this coverage. One area that we help our clients to reap the awards of additional living expense is on is mileage under this coverage. Most people do not realize that if their temporary home is farther from their work and school they have the right to claim the mileage incurred over the normal expenses that would be paid.

If you typically drive 10 miles one way to get to work from your home and you are now driving 13 miles one way from the temporary home, you should be able to claim 6 miles extra days at the IRS standard mileage rate. Currently, that amount is 57.5 cents a mile. Mileage can add up. If in the example above, the insured was out of their home for 6 months while their home is being repaired, they would be due an additional $435. Imagine if your partner’s work and kid’s schools are farther away too! Additional Living Expenses is an important coverage that is often underutilized. When you have a loss think of all the expenses that you wouldn’t have had if you did not have the claim. Some examples are lawn care at the home and temporary home, pet boarding, and laundry if the temporary home does not have a washer and dryer.

Brown – O’Haver’s public insurance adjusters have been trained to look for additional expenses that our clients may not have thought to submit for payment.

After a Disaster, How Can the “Helpers” Help?

When a disaster occurs, especially a large natural disaster where many people are impacted, people from all over come out to help. As Mr. Rogers is often quoted, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

If you have lived through a natural disaster like Moore’s 2013 tornado you can relate to this. In 2013 Brown O’Haver of Oklahoma was only 6 years old and I personally had a two-year-old (who turned two days before the tornado) and a nine-month-old. To say that it was stressful running a public adjusting firm with two little ones, one of who was still nursing, would be an understatement.

It was a scary time. Children had died in their school and adults died as well. People had nowhere to live and the national guard was on our corner. There were looters and people being barred from going back in to their homes. Times were tough.

At the same time there were people driving in from all over the country to help. My own aunt from Kentucky drove in to help volunteer with clean up. People donated clothes and bottled water. So much bottled water! Bottled water lined our streets. Businesses donated services and time. If you looked for helpers, you found them. Truly, you didn’t really have to look too hard.

When a disaster happens and so many people come to help it feels unappreciative to ask for people to help in a different way than what they expected but is important for the helpers and the people accepting help to understand what is really needed and what is not.

Many volunteer groups volunteer to clean up. This is a simple and easy way to help. Cleaning up after a disaster is a mistake and should not be done. In order to properly measure and document a loss the damaged and destroyed items need to be retained. The insurance policy requires that the insured allow the insurance company the opportunity to view the claimed loss. As unbelievable as it seems just because a home is a total loss does not mean that the insurance company will automatically pay policy limits on the claim. Even when there is no standing walls or roof on a house you must line item and claim every single item in your house to be paid for your loss.

Volunteer groups would be much better utilized if instead of having them clean up and throwing away debris from a loss helping a person document their loss. The pastor and his family at my church at the time lost his home and they took this advice. They had many volunteers coming out to help. Their original idea was to have the volunteers dig through the rubble and clean and throw away the devastation. Instead they had the volunteer crew help with the personal property inventory.

As you can see in this picture, the family took cans of upside down spray paint (cans that can be sprayed when holding them upside down) and designated a section to an individual volunteer. In that section the volunteer would handwrite a list of each item they searched and found. The volunteer would then take a picture of every single item they listed. This would ensure that if by chance that item was looted or somehow discarded there would still be evidence for the insurance company. At the end of the day every volunteer turned the list into the family. The family then inputted the compiled list into a spreadsheet and added the price of the items. Eventually this family was paid policy limits on the loss.

On the contrary, I had many other families who had volunteers that came out and threw away all of their personal property in the attempt to help. When the family would attempt to make a list of damaged items for the insurance company they forgot many of their items and were unable to come up with a list of their full policy limits. This caused much more work forcing them to have to go through old receipts, pictures before the loss, etc. In some instances, they were never able to compile a full list.

Following a disaster, helpers and volunteers can be vital in helping you work through the initial shock and document your claim efficiently. If you experience a loss or volunteer to help someone after a loss, remember these tips and tools to ensure that volunteer efforts are utilized in the most effective way.

Brown – O’Haver public adjuster stands ready to help you with your loss and to assist in helping you comply with the terms of your policy.