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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:

Wait and See before Hiring a Public Adjuster

As public adjusters the number one opposition to hiring us right away that we hear is that the insured wants to wait and see what the insurance company offers on their claim. The Cambridge English dictionary defines a wait-and-see situation as one in which someone is not sure what to do and decides to wait before taking any action.

At Brown O’Haver we have options for people who prefer this approach. We offer our services at any time in the claim and may only take a fee on what the insurer pays above the original offer a person may have received. We offer this alternative, but it doesn’t mean that the wait and see approach is always the best choice for an insured.

One of the biggest problems with the wait and see approach in your insurance claim is that while insureds may be waiting on retaining a public adjuster, they are not waiting on other aspects of the claim.

This happens oftentimes when the insured hires a restoration company but does not hire a public adjuster. Restoration companies will begin removing things from the home and accruing fees all while an insured is waiting to see if hiring a public adjuster is the right choice for them. Eventually tens of thousands of dollars might be paid out to a restoration company which can never be recouped even if and when you eventually hire a public adjuster to help you with your claim.

The main reasons to hire a public adjuster are to protect the interests of the insured and to receive guidance and direction on the claim.

Public adjusters are licensed to advocate on behalf of the insured. It is our duty and responsibility to give an insured advice on their claim and help them to move through the process. By waiting to hire a public adjuster an insured is missing months of advice. In addition, the insured is making critical decisions at the most important part of the claim without the help of an expert.

While we can help most people at any stage in the claim it is certainly more difficult when we have to unravel a claim. Oftentimes, waiting to hire a public adjuster is akin to waiting to hire a CPA until after an audit request. Can the CPA help with the audit and most likely get their client through the process? Certainly, but it would have saved time, money, stress and heartache had the client hired a CPA in the first place which would help to offset the odds of being audited.

By hiring Brown O’Haver from the beginning an insured can receive the service and expertise for the entirety of the claim mitigating the problems that can result without us.

Know the Law when Hiring a Public Adjuster

In 2016 Oklahoma passed a bill that outlined requirements on public adjusters in the state to protect both the consumer and the public adjuster. When you are choosing a public adjuster, you should be aware of the state requirements.

The following are a few of the lesser known rules that you should be aware to ensure you are hiring a reputable public adjuster that is following the laws of state.

“A public adjuster is obligated under his or her license to serve with objectivity and complete loyalty to the interest of his or her client alone; and to render to the insured such information, counsel and service as within the knowledge, understanding and opinion in good faith of the licensee will best serve the insured’s insurance claim needs and interest.”

This means that the public adjuster should not require you to hire anyone contractor or be the contractor themselves. The public adjuster should be the advocate for the insured and not for a construction or roofing company handling the claim. The public adjuster should also not represent the insurance company on the claim.

“A public adjuster shall not solicit or attempt to solicit an insured during the progress of a loss-producing occurrence.”

This one is tricky because restoration companies are allowed to be out at the time that a loss is ongoing. Either way, if a public adjuster solicits while the loss is still occurring, they are not following the law and you should look for a different public adjuster to handle your claim. 

“A public adjuster shall not acquire any interest in salvage of property subject to the contract with the insured unless the public adjuster obtains written permission from the insured after settlement of the claim with the insurer.”

If the public adjuster is trying to keep your damaged items or work with a restoration company that is trying to keep the items without your approval this is against the law.

“A public adjuster shall not enter into a contract or accept a power of attorney that vests in the public adjuster the effective authority to choose the persons who shall perform repair work.”

This is an important one. Never sign an “Assignment of Benefits” (AOB) with the public adjuster or a contractor as it takes away your rights to your claim and gives it to the person you assigned the benefits to.

“A public adjuster may not agree to any loss settlement without the insured’s knowledge and consent.”

This should be clearly stated in the contract.

“On a percentage fee contract, a public adjuster may not require, demand or accept any fee, retainer, compensation, deposit or other thing of value prior to payment of any claim proceeds, whether such payment is partial in nature or payment in full.”

A public adjuster should never ask for upfront money for their services.

I was fortunate to be involved in the process of this statute being written into law. Because of that I am intimately aware of the rules. At Brown O’Haver our contract reflects the law and our claims handling follows the guidelines.

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.