Why Should I Hire a Public Adjuster?

What is a Public Adjuster?

A public adjuster is a licensed claims adjuster who represents you, the insured, in any property damage insurance claim. Having an insurance claim is a time-consuming, stressful, and confusing process. A public adjuster handles it all for you – the estimate of what was damaged, reporting the claim, meeting and communicating with the insurance company’s adjuster, and negotiating a fair settlement. A public adjuster will save you time, stress, and money.

Why Should You Hire a Public Adjuster?

  1. Maximize Your Settlement: On average, a public adjuster will increase your settlement by 25-40% – often even more. Years of experience in insurance claims means a public adjuster will notice things that you don’t – and the insurance company adjuster won’t point out. Deep understanding of insurance policy language makes sure nothing slips through the cracks. Skillful negotiation ensures a fair settlement. A public adjuster charges a fee, but the investment will pay huge dividends.
  2. Stress: Stress is a huge factor in the claims process which is sometimes more traumatic for the homeowner than the incident itself. There are a lot of phone calls, paperwork, meetings, negotiations, and occasionally a few battles. A public adjuster will take this off your plate so you can focus on getting your life back together.
  3. Second Opinion: Getting a second opinion is important because often, the insured will underestimate their own damage, miss hidden damage, or not understand everything their policy entitles them to. A public adjuster will know all of this and will fight to make sure it’s all included in the settlement.

Robert L. McCormack Public Adjusters can help you with every aspect of your property claim. Our personal attention to each of our clients ensures the best experience and settlement. Contact us today by filling out our contact form, or by giving us a call at 508.588.4243.

The Cost and Worth of a Public Adjuster

 How Much Does a Public Adjuster Cost?

Having an insurance claim is a time-consuming, stressful, and confusing process. It’s possible to attempt the process alone, however it’s important to remember the insurance companies have the background knowledge that gives them an upper hand during the process. This isn’t great for you as the customer, but having a public adjuster on your side can really help to level out the playing field, and earn you the settlement you deserve.

In terms of cost, generally, in Massachusetts, the public adjuster fee is 10% of whatever the settlement may be, but there is some room for negotiation – it depends on the size and nature of the claim. It is possible to negotiate to a fee lower than 10%, but this could be a red flag because like in any industry, there are good public adjusters and there are bad public adjusters. There are many things to consider such as experience, and professionalism. Avoid choosing the first public adjuster that gives you a price lower than 10% because that is most likely the adjuster that will put your claim on the backburner. This can result to lack of attention, and ultimately, a lower payout than you deserve.

 

Is a Public Adjuster Worth the Money?

A public adjuster can generally get the insured persons a settlement 25-40% higher than they could get on their own, which more than covers the fee. The public adjuster will also save you a lot of time and headaches as a claim can take hours of paper work, dozens of phone calls, multiple meetings with adjusters, and knowledge of insurance policy language, which is extremely difficult to decipher. Hiring a public adjuster is truly worth the price.

At Robert L. McCormack Public Adjusters, we offer many services, but above all, the attention and precision that your claim needs. Contact us today by filling out our contact form, or by giving us a call at 508.588.4243.

Condo Claims: A Tale of Two Policies

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Famous apartment neighbors Fred and Ethel, Lucy and Ricky

The insurance claim process is a little different for condo-owners because there are two policies involved: your own condo-owner’s policy and the condo association’s master policy.

The condo-owner’s policy (also called a unit policy) covers four things:

  1. Your contents (all of your stuff)
  2. The building structure (also called the dwelling) up to the deductible on the master policy
  3. Liability should someone get hurt on your property
  4. Additional living expenses should you be unable to use any part of your home and incur expenses

For this article, we will focus on numbers 1 and 2.

The association’s master policy is responsible for the building’s structure — including inside your unit.

Your unit policy will pay for dwelling damage up to the deductible amount of the master policy. A common misconception is that the condo-owner is responsible for the part of the building that is inside the studs of his or her unit. That’s not really true. In most cases, every part of the dwelling is covered by the master policy once its deductible is reached. If your claim is smaller than the master policy deductible, the unit-owner policy will pay the whole thing.

Here’s a simple example: Your condo’s master policy deductible is $10,000.

You have a kitchen fire that causes $15,000 worth of damage to your unit’s structure, and $7,000 damage to your contents.

Your condo-owner policy will cover the structure damage up to $10,000, plus the $7,000 in contents — $17,000. The master policy will pay the remaining $5,000.

Here’s a more complicated example from real life: We are working with the two unit owners of a two-unit building. The upstairs unit sprung a leak and did about $40,000 damage to both units. The master policy’s deductible is $2,500.

Because there are two units affected, the master policy deductible is split in two. The insurance company determined that one unit had about 33% of the total damage, and the other unit had 67%. So the unit-owner with the 33% damage will get $2,500 x .33 = $825. The unit-owner with 66% of the damage is entitled to $1,675. Each of these amounts will be paid by each owner’s individual unit-owners’ policy and subject to their individual deductibles.

The balance of the damage, $40,000 – 2,500 = $37,500 will be paid by the master policy and divided up using the same formula as above.

Before you have a claim: It’s a good idea to keep copies of these documents handy:

    • your unit policy
    • the master policy
    • the condo documents (declaration of trust, master deed, bylaws, etc.)

If you have a claim: Let the trustee of the condo association know as soon as possible. He or she will need to be involved in the claim process since the master policy might be in play. If your claim is less than the deductible on the master policy, the unit-owner adjuster will ask to see the condo’s documents and policy to make sure.

We’re here to help! Having a public adjuster on a claim like this makes it a lot easier for you. We can guide you through the maze of the policies, adjusters, and deductibles — maximize your settlement while minimizing your stress. Call us with any questions you might have 508-588-4243.

www.mccormackpublicadjusters.com

“A Robbery, a Fire, and the Steve Miller Band” or “Get Some Renter’s Insurance”

renterBack when I first graduated from college, a long, long, long time ago, the apartment I shared with a roommate was broken into and robbed. After the initial feeling of vulnerability and being invaded had abated, I got down to the business of figuring out what was taken. All of my jewelry, all of my CDs (except the Steve Miller Band one, which kind of offended the friend who’d given it to me – “oh, Steve Miller not good enough for the robbers???”), and some articles of clothing were taken. I made a list, filed a claim through my renter’s insurance, and had a lot of fun shopping for replacement items once I’d received my check. Having a dad who’s been a public adjuster my whole life made me understand the value of insurance at a very young age.

My roommate, on the other hand, did not have renter’s insurance. She’d lost the same amount of items that I had, but she was not able to replace them. I wondered if my policy would cover her things, but that’s not how it works. She’d have needed her own policy. Her dad was a math teacher.

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Fast forward to 2017 and my dad and I are working on a fire claim for the Brockton Housing Authority, which manages housing for low-income individuals in Brockton, Massachusetts. Four beautiful townhouses were heavily damaged by a fire that started in a bathroom ceiling fan. As I walked through each unit, I was saddened to see so many personal belongings of the tenants destroyed by either fire or water. Family photos, clothes, furniture, books, electronics – all of this is not covered by the landlord’s policy. I wondered if any of these folks had renter’s insurance.

What is renter’s insurance?

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Also called tenant’s insurance, it’s a policy that provides liability insurance and covers the tenant’s personal property against named perils like fire, theft, and vandalism. The landlord is not responsible for any of the tenant’s belongings. There are criteria as to whose property is covered under the policy, like my roommate was not covered under mine, but you can work all that out with your agent. The good news is that it’s a lot cheaper than a regular homeowner’s policy because it doesn’t cover the dwelling.  Here’s a little bit more info.

So the moral of the story is, if you rent, get yourself some renter’s insurance. If you’re a landlord, encourage your tenants to get renter’s insurance. Because some robbers do like the Steve Miller Band, and fire and water don’t care what CDs you have. It could all be gone.

 


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Robert L. McCormack Public Adjusters is a full-service public adjusting firm with over 40 years of experience serving all of Massachusetts. We are based in Brockton, Massachusetts.

508-588-4243
claims@mccormackpublicadjusters.com
www.mccormackpublicadjusters.com

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What’s a Flood?

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Don’t just assume that a flood is not covered by your regular homeowner’s policy. The insurance industry uses the term “flood” very specifically as water that has crossed the ground and entered the house uninvited. This is the type of flood that needs to be covered by flood insurance from the federal government – the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

To regular people, a “flood” is just a lot of water where it’s not supposed to be. Several years ago, a contractor broke a pipe in my apartment. To me, six inches of water on my floor looked exactly like a flood. To the insurance company, it was called a “pipe burst” and it was covered by my policy. A short time before that, water came in across the ground and through my windows, which were at grade level. That was a “flood” and the damage it caused was not covered.

Here are some more examples of the differences between what type of water damage is covered by your regular homeowner’s policy and what needs a special flood policy from NFIP.

Covered by the homeowner’s policy

  • If your home or building is damaged from the outside by a covered peril (wind, fire, explosion, etc.) and rain gets into the house because of that damage – through a hole in the roof for example – that is a covered loss on the regular homeowner’s policy.

  • If the water originates inside the house like from burst pipes, plumbing overflows, dishwasher/washing machine malfunctions, or kids putting in too much detergent – all covered.

Covered by the National Flood Insurance Program

  • If a storm overflows a body of water near you and water comes over the ground and into your home, that’s an NFIP claim.
  • If there’s a heavy rain and water seeps into your house from the yard through the foundation, that’s an NFIP claim.

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Rule of thumb: as soon as water touches the ground outside and then comes into the house, it’s NFIP.

If you’re unsure, call us to find out.

For more information on the NFIP, click here.

Why are hurricane claims more complicated than others?

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Hurricanes usually include windstorm and flooding damage. This complicates things because windstorm losses are paid by private insurers while flooding is covered by the federal government through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If you live near the coast or on a floodplain, your mortgagee usually requires you to have flood insurance. You can buy flood insurance even if you’re not on a floodplain, but because it’s not required, most people opt out. Turns out that many of the people affected by Hurricane Harvey flooding do not have flood insurance.
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We can look back on Hurricane Katrina for hints to how these situations play out. After Katrina, private insurance company adjusters were telling homeowners that their damage was caused by flooding, not by wind, and therefore not covered. Most people didn’t even realize they were not covered for floods.
What will hurricane flooding victims do? The feds do offer some assistance, mostly in the form of low-interest loans. This assistance needs to be approved by congress on a case-by-case basis.
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Should we all just get flood insurance? Maybe flood insurance isn’t such a bad idea, even if you’re not on a floodplain. With climate change, storms will create more water, like the billions of gallons Harvey dumped on Texas. I just called my agent to find out about it for my 1,200 square foot house, which is not on a floodplain. For $250,000 coverage, which is the maximum, the cost is about $499 per year – it all depends on your level of risk and mine is low. The cost to insure a house on a floodplain could cost $800 or more. There’s a 30-day grace period so don’t wait till they announce a hurricane to get it.
A public adjuster can help guide you after a claim. Sometimes it’s hard to know what’s wind and what’s flood (the uncovered kind), so it’s good to have an expert on your side. And having just suffered the trauma of a hurricane, it’s pretty hard to deal with an insurance company, so let us help.
Robert L. McCormack Public Adjusters, Inc.
508-588-4243
www.mccormackpublicadjusters.com
claims@mccormackpublicadjusters.com