Philadelphia City Council will continue a hearing on lead paint regulations for rental properties in the city on Monday, June 13. If city council passes the legislation, it would require landlords to certify that property does not have dangerous levels of lead before it’s rented. Dr. Carla Campbell, a pediatrician at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, says 90 percent of Philadelphia homes are contaminated with some level of lead, putting children in danger. Groups opposed to the lead certification bill say it would be too expensive. There is no indication on when it might be brought to a vote. Click here to learn more.
Source: CBS Local; 6/7/2011
When Henry Quintanila's property went up in flames, he relied on his insurance company. Damage to three rental units left him without his usual income and repairs worth thousands of dollars.
"I had to get the plumber. I had to get the electrician. I had to get the permit from the city," he said. Quintanila wasn't happy with the less than $30,000 payout his insurance company offered, so he
contacted public insurance adjuster Anthony Odeh. "It's up to Henry to make sure he's getting the right amount of money," Odeh said.
Odeh said it's a common misconception that your insurance company is responsible for assessing your damage. "I think it was a good gesture on the insurance company's behalf, but at the end of the day, it's not the insurance company's responsibility to protect the resale value of the home," Odeh said. Unlike a company adjuster who works solely in the interest of the insurer, a public adjuster is employed by the property owner and fights solely for the property owner's rights.
"They do bring an expertise that a consumer may feel is necessary to get comfort in what their company is offering them in settlement of their claim," said Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon.
But Donelon warned that unlicensed adjusters can cost property owners more money, as proven after Hurricane Katrina.
"A good public adjuster will assess damage at no cost," said state Rep. Damon Baldone. "They'll meet with a client, look over policies (and) determine there's something there before they even get involved with a client." With a public adjuster's help, instead of getting $30,000 from his insurance company, Quintanila got more than $53,000, plus $1,500 in lost rent.
"Regular citizens, we don't know how insurance really works," Quintanila said. "And the way I feel like now, I feel like they just just give you this money and you have to be happy and satisfied with what they give you."
Link: Insurance Adjuster Resources
Copyright 2010 by WDSU.com
The typical fire policy contains hundreds of provisions and stipulations - various forms and riders that are constantly changing and many complex details about your requirements in case of loss. Most people do not know or understand these policy provisions - and most do not realize that the burden of proof is on them, the policyholder. Most insurance company representatives actually prefer to work with an experienced accredited public insurance adjuster rather than an inexperienced insured.
An accredited public insurance adjuster not only has your confidence, but also that of company adjusters who recognize that they are dealing with a professional. Take advantage of our FREE Community Service and have your policy reviewed. Schedule your policy review today!!!
By Jeff Gelles - Inquirer Business Columnist
Hurricane-force winds walloped the Jersey Shore that Saturday in mid-March as a nor'easter blew through. Eighty miles inland, Larry Collins' part of Upper Bucks County didn't fare much better, taking torrential rains and gusts near 55 m.p.h.
Collins worried as windows rattled and shingles blew off the house he shares with his 83-year-old mother, Minnie Smith.
Smith was terrified by the storm's fury. Collins was concerned about the damage. One thing neither worried about was the financial effect, even after Collins ventured outside and found rain gutters dangling, the front deck damaged, and an awning partly collapsed.Collins and Smith were protected by their homeowners' policy from State Farm, the company with the "good neighbor" slogan.
But six weeks later - with the awning, deck, and other damage still unfixed - they weren't quite so sure.
For much of that time, Collins and his mother have been at an impasse with State Farm. Their contractor - suggested by State Farm's agent - estimated repair costs of about $12,500. State Farm's adjuster, who visited two weeks after the damaging storm, put the damages at less than half that amount. He cut a check on the spot for $4,132 "and told me several times to get that right in the bank," Collins recalls.
I'd like to report that this case had a happy ending, and that may be where it's heading.
I contacted State Farm spokesman Dave Phillips last week, and within a day Collins got a call from an adjuster who said he was reassessing the claim. The adjuster even gave a last name and phone number - the first time that's happened in half a dozen calls, Collins says.
Phillips told me he couldn't talk specifics, but said the company was looking into the case.
"Our main intention right now is to get the issue resolved," Phillips said Friday. "Our practice at State Farm is to deliver and to pay the right amount - to get a claim resolved and to make sure our policyholder comes first."
I hope that's the outcome. But Collins contacted me in part because he saw last week's column about a new book on the insurance industry and its author Jay M. Feinman, a law professor at Rutgers University-Camden.
Collins asked a reasonable question: Was his case an example of the claims-practices trend identified by Feinman and other industry critics - a trend Feinman summed up in his book's title, Delay, Deny, Defend?
Those critics say that insurers, just like policyholders, face a "moral hazard" - a term referring to the potentially reckless behavior of those protected from its full consequences by insurance.
The moral hazard facing insurers is even more straightforward, Feinman says, and also a matter of incentives: that a dollar saved in claims is a dollar made in profits.
Insurance has a long, venerable history, punctuated by some disturbing episodes. Feinman believes that one has been under way since the 1990s, when Wall Street's press for higher profits led some insurers to revamp their practices at the urging of consultants such as McKinsey & Co.
Essentially, Feinman says the consultants urged insurers to overlook their own moral hazard and turn their claims units into a profit center. He says the result - also fostered by the use of complex computer models to estimate repair costs - is that some insurers systematically lowball claims.
As you'd expect, the large insurers drawing most such criticism, such as Allstate and State Farm, have strenuously denied the accusations. State Farm says it followed key recommendations from McKinsey & Co. only "for a short period of time in the 1990s as a way to go after insurance fraud."
Feinman says there's too little information to say whether State Farm's seemingly lowball offer to Collins or the delays he's faced since are part of larger trends or isolated incidents.
He says a second estimate would have helped, even if Collins acted reasonably in assuming it was unnecessary because he'd hired a contractor recommended by a State Farm agent.
I should note that Collins' contractor, Alex Shelmet, says he was offended by the State Farm adjuster, but calls the experience unusual.
"I've never been questioned like this by an adjuster," says Shelmet, owner of AJ's Home Remodeling & Repairs, of Chalfont. "My prices are very well in line."
So what does Feinman recommend?
First, he says consumers should be better shoppers. Don't just focus on price. Look for whatever comparative data you can find on claims practices and customer satisfaction - and urge your state to make more information available on policyholders' complaints.
Second, recognize there are variations in policies, such as whether a policy covers damage if a sump pump fails or an oil tank leaks. Get an agent who can explain the gaps, and ask if riders are available to cover risks that worry you.
Finally, if bad luck strikes, recognize that slogans like "good neighbor," "good hands," and "on your side" are just slogans, just like that Geico gecko is just a darned cute animation.
"When you have a claim, the insurance company isn't your enemy, but the insurance company isn't your friend, either," Feinman says. "You don't have to assume that what they tell you is accurate with respect to your coverage or how much your claim is worth."
Feinman advises consumers to document damages, familiarize themselves with special rules covering emergency repairs, and be assertive about their rights.
For large claims or complex situations, Feinman also recommends that policyholders get professional help from an experienced lawyer or public adjuster.
Ultimately, Feinman says, state regulators need to work harder to make the market more transparent and help consumers fight bad decisions because moral hazard definitely cuts both ways.
The owner of Anthony and Cleopatra's Catering Hall in New Jersey, submitted a Wind/Rain claim to his insurance company. The insurance company was quick to offer to replace the entire roof and allow for some repairs to the inside of the building. The total settlement was just over $13,000.00. The roof replacement took up most of this settlement. The owner realized that he had to do more repairs than what the insurance company offered, since there was still a musty smell in the building. Most of this catering halls business was weddings. The owner, who owned the building free and clear, was about to take out a mortgage to make the repairs.
A few months later, Brad Johnson, currently a Regional Manager in Ohio, attended a banquet. During the banquet, Brad noticed water damage to the ceiling tiles. He spoke with the owner who told him that he felt the insurance company had paid more than he had expected. The owner agreed to allow the claim to be signed up, since Metro worked on a percentage of the settlement over and above the original settlement. The insured felt as though he had nothing to lose and welcomed the opportunity to have his claim re-opened. Dan Young, the Metro assigned adjuster, was able to successfully re-open the claim. In addition to the original offer of $13,000.00, Dan was able to convince the insurance company to agree to pay an additional $40,000.00. Now the property owner could replace all of the musty smelling carpet as well as replace all of the mismatched ceiling tiles that the insurance company thought was no big deal.
The best news of all was that a few months later, Anthony and Cleopatra's Catering Hall was named the best place in South Jersey to hold a wedding. Thanks to Brad's keen eyes, the owner of the catering hall was able to restore his catering hall the way it should have been.
Poll the people you trust. Call your accountant, your lawyer and your neighbor. Ask if they've ever used a public claims adjuster or know anyone who has.
Contact the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters. This trade organization, which represents 110 of the industry's largest firms, maintains a search-able database of members who have at least two years of experience and uphold a professional code of conduct, according to David W. Barrack, the group's executive director. In addition, the organization also offers a certification program. A Certified Professional Public Adjuster must have five years of experience and pass an exam, while a Senior Professional Public Adjuster must have at least 10 years of experience and pass a more rigorous test.
Interview the candidates. This should occur once you have a few names that look promising. Ask about rates, references and credentials. Contact their references and quiz former clients on the adjuster's performance. Was the person effective? Available? Fast? Accurate? Did he or she deliver what was promised? If the adjuster claims any kind of certification, get the name of the accrediting body and call it.
Call your state insurance office. Many states license or regulate public claims adjusters. If yours does, make sure your prospect is in good standing with no unresolved complaints. It won't hurt to call the Better Business Bureau while you're at it.
Ask your insurance agent. Sound like a conflict of interest? Not really. You're hiring an adjuster to represent you to the insurance company. So what is this person's reputation within the industry?
Wonder if your hired gun might damage your relationship with your insurance company, especially at renewal time? A more important question might be why it was necessary to hire a public adjuster in the first place.
"There has to be an element of trust and confidence here," Crowley says. "If you don't trust your insurance company, chances are at renewal time you should be shopping for someone you do trust."
Courtesy of Public Adjuster Information
Indemnification is the principle of restoring or reimbursing one to the full extent of their loss. The principle of indemnity is used exclusively in the property and casualty fields. Your insurance policy is a contract. This contract is personal, aleatory and a conditional contract of adhesion that is legally enforceable between you and your insurance company. Mediation, arbitration and appraisals are some of the forms of dispute resolution a public adjuster may leverage on your behalf.
Ambiguities if found in a contract of adhesion are interpreted against the party that wrote the contract and therefore any unclear language or policy provision is interpreted against the insurance company and in the insured’s favor. Having a polished professional who understands contracts and this principle on your side of the fence will level the playing field between you and your insurance company.
Having your own personal claims adjuster will ensure the utmost good faith would be adhered to in your insurance investigation. He or she will contact the insurance company for you and schedule the investigation and our team will take on all communications throughout the life of your claim. Our goal is to move this claim through their system as quickly as possible.
Initially an investigation conducted by the insurance company adjuster, responsible to his employer, is designed to identify fraudulent claims, moral hazards, third parties with insurable interests and opportunities to minimize your settlement. Many of these concerns and questions have already been addressed during Metro’s initial scope that is scheduled within 48 hours of your meeting with our representative. Our team will secure all documentation, damage repair and replacement estimates and organize a properly prepared “Proof of Loss”. Every claim and insurance company is different and therefore difficult to estimate how long it will take to process your claim.
We ask for your patience throughout the process. You will be kept current of all aspects. Internally we are negotiating the best settlement for you and you will be copied on all written correspondence used to expedite your settlement.
When damage to property or a personal casualty event occurs due to crime like vandalism, theft or accidental damage occurs from negligence of old plumbing, bathtub overflow, leaking toilet or shower; First things first when filing your property claim. If a crime has been committed, call the police. Be as cooperative as possible with local authorities such as police, rescue, or the fire department. Be sure to get a police report and document all the names of the officials that you come into contact with.
Next step is to mitigate any future loss or damage. This may require temporary repairs from a plumber if you are not handy with leaky pipes. At this point, it is always best to keep calm when considering your next steps. Good documentation, damage estimates, determining actual cash value and photographs are the homeowner’s responsibility and mandatory when filing a property insurance claim.
Now would be a good time to call your public adjuster, prior to your first phone call to your insurance company, at least to understand your policy coverage’s.
When working with Metro, you will first meet with a professional representative that will spend quality time reviewing your policy with you using an experienced eye to identify coverage limitations, policy exclusions and legal language that your insurance company may use as leverage to deny your claim. Your Metro claim advocate will conduct an inspection of the damage using a checklist and detailing damage you may have missed without a trained eye for consequential damage caused by your direct peril. With this information, together we can determine if you have a claim worth investigating and you may choose to engage our services at this time.
Call 215-909-4928 for 24/7 Emergency Service!!!
Insurance, for the most part, is a necessary evil that plays an important part in our financial liabilities. The vast majority of consumers know why it is important to carry several insurance policies for their home and family. What most are unaware of is the important role adjusters can play in a settlement.
When an insurance policyholder files a claim, an adjuster will be brought in to verify that the coverage applies to the insurance policy, investigate liability for any damages and make restitution to the policyholder. In most cases, an insurance company will appoint a staff adjuster to the case and the policyholder will be offered a settlement based on the staff adjuster’s findings and recommendations. All too often, a policyholder will accept the settlement without dispute and feel they have been given the best deal possible. To understand why this is type of thinking can possibly cost a policyholder significant amounts of money owed to them, you must understand a few basic principles about insurance adjusters.
To begin with, there are three type of insurance adjusters:
A public adjuster is an an advocate for the policyholder in appraising and negotiating an insurance claim. Public Adjusters exist because of the a conflict of interest that arises when one person attempts to represent both sides of a settlement. Public adjusters are the only type of claims adjuster that can legally represent the rights of a policyholder during the claim process.
It is always a wise idea to let public adjuster review your claim even after you have settled with your insurer because most of the time a public adjuster can request that the claim be reopened to negotiation for more money if discrepancy is found.
The majority of policyholders are unaware that Public Adjusters even exist as an option to dealing directly with the insurance company representatives. A professional, conscientious public adjuster can make a tremendous difference in the amount of a policyholder’s settlement.
If you’re a policyholder and have filed a claim, don’t let your insurance company walk away with money they owe you. Make sure to consult a public adjuster before taking any offer.
I am a License and Bonded Public Adjuster in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland. My mission is to walk you down the path to the American Dream of homeownership and much more...