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                                       Subhang Patel

HOME IMPROVEMENT

STEPS TO EXPEDITE INSURANCE CLAIMS

By SHUBHANG K. PATEL

In many cases, we are contacted by homeowners requesting estimate for the damage caused by unforeseen conditions. We recommend large percentiles to claim damages via insurance companies.

Dealing with home insurance companies and adjusters may become frustrating.

Documentation is the single most important part of the claim process. Take pictures. Contact the insurance company immediately after damages. Contact a license contractor for estimates. Send a certified letter to the insurance company. Follow up; make notes and keep receipts of your expenses associated with the damages.

State insurance laws dictate whether insurers have specific deadlines in which to settle your claim. To find out the law, go to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners Web site (http://www.naic.org/) and click on the link for state insurance department Web sites. Insurers themselves generally won’t tell you exactly how long it will take to settle your claim as each claim is unique. Instead, you’ll probably be told that all claims are handled “as quickly as possible.” And while that may or may not be true – there is no reason to feel powerless in the process.

What you can do. Even though you can’t force your insurer to settle your claim within a certain time frame, there are things you can do to speed up the settlement process such as:

·         Stay in contact with your claims adjuster. Don’t sit back and wait for your settlement. Claims adjusters generally have hundreds, even thousands of claims to handle. Staying in contact with your adjuster will let him or her know that you are on top of things and your file will probably end up on the top of their pile.

·         Demand better service. If you can’t get anywhere with the adjuster, ask to speak with their supervisor for better service. Keep in mind that most insurance settlements must go through the insurance company’s legal department, which can take time depending on your settlement’s complexity. Although a claims adjuster can’t usually tell company attorneys to “hurry things up,” he or she should be able to “manage” the process. If you feel that you’re getting the run-a-round, talk to a supervisor.

After you’ve submitted your claim to your insurance company, a claims adjuster will usually be assigned to your claim to investigate. You should receive a phone call, letter or email from the adjuster introducing himself and informing you of the general process their company – your company – follows. The adjuster will review your policy to see what coverage and deductibles you have and evaluate the type and extent of damage sustained.

Some claims are simple; some are not. Here’s what you can expect from each:

·         Simple claims. In simple cases where damage is minimal (siding blew off of your house during a storm), an adjuster may have you get an estimate of the damage and just pay to replace the siding – less your deductible, of course. An in-person visit probably won’t occur unless your agent/adjuster lives close by and the amount of paperwork needed is usually minimal.

·         Difficult claims. In difficult cases where you’ve experienced major damage (your roof collapsed), an adjuster will likely come by to assess the damage in person, take photos and discuss what needs to be done next, such as getting estimates and filling out claim and estimate forms.

How long does the process take? Generally speaking, easy claims can be settled in a matter of weeks. Difficult cases may, and generally do, take much longer – especially when several estimates are needed or your contractor is not ready to perform the repairs right away. However, determining an exact amount of time is difficult since every claim has its own facts and circumstances. Try not to have expectations of when the matter will be resolved, but…

Don’t sit back and wait!
Once you’ve submitted a claim, don’t sit back and wait. Check in with your claims adjuster (and contractors!) from time to time, either by phone or email, to see what progress has been made on your claim. Claims adjusters usually have hundreds of claims to settle; don’t let yours fall to the bottom of the pile.

Shubhang K. Patel, president of SAVITARA – General Contractors in Florida, can be reached at 1-800-245-9944 or e-mail at info@savitara.com. Orlando (407.427.2098). Tampa Bay (727.437.2098). Lakeland (863.438.1098). Lake County (352.578.1144).





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