Fire quickly causes tragedy, but don’t let the aftermath cause further tragedy. All of us have been touched by the trauma and tragedy of a structure burning, all of our life long possessions up in smoke. If the house has a mortgage, chances are, there is insurance to protect those assets.
Unfortunately, the fire often causes insurance problems because homeowners don’t know or understand the type of insurance they have. Was it a replacement policy, are there limits to such replacement; what about the contents of the house? These are all questions that a homeowner has immediately.
Following the fire, the insurance company typically sends an independent company to investigate and to assess the damage to the structure and to the contents. There is another type of insurance adjuster that operates in a parallel insurance universe called “Public Adjusters.”
Public adjusters are licensed claims adjusters hired by the homeowner to “adjust” or “negotiate” the sometimes complex world of insurance and fire insurance. Most public adjusters argue that they can better navigate complicated insurance policies, netting the homeowner a higher settlement.
Beware– Public insurance adjusters are independent from the government and work for their own financial benefit. They are looking to earn a percentage of any recovery. Sometimes, that recovery is exactly what the homeowner would have received in the first place.
Sometimes, these public adjusters take their jobs a little too seriously, and have been known to overstep their authority.
Bottom line– be careful, take a deep breath, and assess what you need and when. If needed, consult with a local New York State lawyer versed in insurance issues.