Thursday, September 15, 2011

Gov. disaster aide? At some point. Maybe.

In a recent survey, most Americans were not ready for a disaster. (See article) Many that do have plans lack some or most of the items that experts recommend. Also, many families do not have a disaster plan. In the event of a disaster, you may not have cell phone service, that includes texting and internet. Regular phone service may be disrupted. 911 will be overwhelmed with calls by those who can call out. Local emergency services will be busy prioritizing and dealing with the largest issues first.

In short, you and your loved ones are on your own until they can get to you. You could wait a few hours, a few days or a few weeks. We have to get back to being able to function on our own without power, water, sewer, phones, etc. For some helpful information on disaster planning click here. You can also visit the Ready.gov website for help making a plan.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Have an Insurance Claim? Watch who lines up!

Recently  I had a client that had a small electrical fire in their attic. Thankfully everyone is fine. We reported the claim to the carrier while the fire trucks were still there.

While I was there, I noticed 2 people parked in separate vehicles waiting for something. The fire trucks had barley left when in come the public adjustor's, one after the other, offering their services saying that the carrier would not do an adequate job of settling with them. And I thought only attorneys chased emergency vehicles!
Public adjuster's, contractors, cleaners and others are all great professionals. But there are those who swoop in, hoping to make a quick buck at your expense. Remember, your insurance carrier will send out their own adjuster free of charge. If you hire a public adjuster or other worker, it is at your expense. There have been cases where "public adjusters" have taken a large "deposit" and vanished. Other adjustor's work for you for a percentage of your settlement amount. In other words, you get $60,000 for damage to your home, and the public adjuster may get 10% of that or $6,000. Contractors, cleaners and others have used scare tactics like this too.

 If you disagree with your insurance carriers estimation for repairs, you can hire a public adjuster to help you dispute your carriers calculations. But keep in mind, you are paying them out of your pocket, so be clear what they are charging you. Public adjusters have to be licensed by the state, so check with the California Dept. of Insurance to see if they are licensed and have any complaints if you decide to hire one.

Here's a couple of tips to help you try to avoid fraud:

1.  Check with your insurance agent or claims representative to see if they did really send them out and to see if their work will be covered.

 2.    Don't sign anything from anyone that shows up at your door offering to do        work. Tell them that you need to talk to your agent or claims rep and ask them to give you the paperwork so you can send it to your claims rep.

3.  Check to see if they are licensed and insured or bonded. You can check on license status for most professions by going to your states website. If they are not licensed, you may want to report them to your police department.

4.   If in doubt, call your claims rep, insurance agent or carriers customer service dept. and ask. Don't sign anything!