Missouri House Bill 1086 — New Restrictions Concerning Contractors and Insurance Claims

A proposed revision to Missouri law will further restrict Missouri contractors from being involved in residential and commercial insurance claims.

“A [residential] contractor shall not represent or negotiate, or offer or advertise to represent or negotiate, on behalf of an owner or possessor of [residential] real estate on any insurance claim in connection with the repair or replacement of roof systems, or the performance of any other exterior repair, replacement, construction, or reconstruction work.”

http://www.house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills141/biltxt/intro/HB1086I.htm

Read more:  Should your contractor represent your interests regarding your insurance claim?

 

For Sale – The Privacy of Home Buyers in the USA and Canada

Most home shoppers who see a “For Sale” sign in the front yard of a home they are considering to purchase are not aware that more than just the house is being sold.  In some cases, their own privacy and personal information is on the market the moment that they begin the buying process — whether they end up buying the home or not.

Buyers considering the purchase of a new home will often hire a home inspector to examine the home for them and report its condition.  If you are considering the purchase of a new home and are looking to hire a home inspector, consider the inspector’s commitment to your privacy in addition to his other qualifications.

There are home inspectors who will offer lower fees to their clients as an incentive to hire them — and then sell private information about the home buyer (or the home) to third parties willing to pay them for this information, to make up for the lower fee.  Usually, the home buyer is unaware that the home inspector is gaining from the sale of his private information.  Nor is the home buyer aware as to whom or how many third parties their private information is being provided to.

If your home inspector is offering a variety of “free” add-on services in addition to his report of the condition of your home, chances are good that you’re private information (and information about your home) is being provided to an unnamed third-party.

Contractors who sell and install home alarm systems, for example, consider home inspectors to be a valuable resource for new customer leads and will reward them with cash and other incentives to provide them with the names, phone numbers and addresses of new home buyers.   Sometimes the home inspector will sell their clients’ private information directly to a contractor but may also sell the information to “lead brokers” who, in turn, sell the information to a variety of contractors and service providers.

Rarely are home buyers informed by their home inspector that he is profiting from the sale of their private information or to whom the information is being sold.  At least one lead broker forbids home inspectors who provide him with private data about their clients from revealing anything concerning the inspector’s contract with the lead broker to the home owner, which includes his “compensation” arrangements.

Many clients of home inspectors, some who are on state sponsored “Do Not Call” lists, are unaware how the telemarketers calling them came to get their name while some are even more surprised to find door-to-door solicitors knowing to ask for them by name shortly after moving in to their new home.

Not all home inspectors engage in this practice and consumers should ask an inspector they consider hiring as to whether or not he or she engages in the sale of private information about his or her clients.  Added services that require personal information or client registration such as “free” short term warranties or “free” product recall research are important red flags that should be explored.

If you choose to hire a home inspector who will be providing your information to any third-party for any reason, it is wise to have the inspector provide you with the third party’s name, address, telephone number and other identifying factors to ensure that you can contact them should you find yourself receiving harassing or unwanted solicitations as a possible result — and to trace any other parties to whom that party may have provided your information to, when necessary.

In this age of private information gathering by government agencies and computer hackers, consumers should be proactive in protecting their private information from being bought, sold and re-sold among various parties that are unknown to them.  The purchase of a new home is no exception.

Copyright James H. Bushart 2013

You Will Know When You Need a Public Adjuster

Being a state licensed public adjuster provides me with an opportunity to read lots of articles and advertisements written by other public adjusters for public consumption.  With only a very few exceptions, I have found what I have read to be informative and valuable and  I am grateful to all who have taken the time to share their knowledge and expertise.

Many of these articles are written by financial and insurance experts and are directed toward insured home owners, intended to assist them in identifying when they need to call upon a public adjuster for assistance with their insurance claim.  Since many insured home and business owners are learning that such a person as a public adjuster even exists at the time they are reading the article it is natural for them to inquire more about what a public adjuster does in the first place.

Simply stated, a public adjuster is a licensed professional who will represent you to your insurance company in settling a first-party insurance claim for damage to your home or business.  Your choices in settling your insurance claim are (1) to do everything yourself, (2) hire an attorney to handle your insurance claim, or (3) hire a licensed public adjuster to handle your insurance claim.

The potential for a large insurance settlement can attract the attention of lawyers and public adjusters who may come directly to you when they learn of your financial loss.  Personal injury lawyers may call or leave phone messages when learning of an accident or injury and, likewise, some public adjusters may approach the home or business owner in person or by phone at the time of the fire, storm or other peril causing damage to the home or business.

Do you always need to hire a public adjuster to assist you?  No.  Not always.

Sometimes, the claim for damage may meet or exceed the total coverage of the policy.  The structure that is destroyed may have been insured for $100,000 and, being totally destroyed, the insurer has agreed to pay the maximum covered amount of $100,000. Hiring and paying an attorney or public adjuster to assist in this matter would be more of an expense than a benefit.

But insurance companies make money from collecting premiums … not by paying claims … and the process of recovering all of the money that an insured home or business owner is entitled to is not designed to be easy or prompt.  “Lowball” offers, delays and denials, and challenges that need to be defended are often introduced into the mix at the worst possible time for the damaged home or business owner.  Having an advocate to assist you through the process and who works for younot the insurance company … can be of great benefit.

When you find that you are faced with a difficult and cumbersome process or feel overwhelmed by the task of proving your loss to a skeptical insurance adjuster … you don’t have to face it alone.

When you find, as many do, that the insurance policy that you have faithfully maintained has failed to live up to your needs or expectations at the time you actually need it the most … you don’t have to face it alone.

When you find that you are being provided unacceptable “lowball” offers to cover your loss but are not confident in your own abilities to adequately negotiate a higher settlement … help is available.

I am not one of the public adjusters who will be contacting you at the time of the theft, vandalism, fire, storm or other peril. Instead, I wait until I am contacted by insured home and business owners who know, on their own, that they can use my help with their claim.

I am not paid anything until my client is paid and there is no cost to anyone who wishes to consult with me about their claim to see if I can help them.  Before you consider hiring me, you may contact others who have been assisted by me with their insurance claims and ask them about their experiences.

You will know when you need a public adjuster to assist you with your Missouri home or business insurance claim, and when you decide that you do, please call me at 314-803-2167 or email me at jbushart@publicadjustermissouri.com .

Lowballing an Insurance Claim

Lowballing is a negotiating tactic used by some insurance claims adjusters by which the adjuster knowingly offers far less than the merits of the claim warrants.  Lowballing is effective.  It forces many insured home owners to accept settlements that may be lower than their claims deserve.

The insurance claims adjuster’s purpose is to perform the insurance company’s promises under the insurance policy.  He has an ethical obligation to pay covered claims.  Lowballing is unethical and wrong.  An insurance adjuster who engages in lowballing is ultimately refusing to settle covered claims.

Many insured home owners are unaware that they have the option to re-open closed claims which they feel were underpaid or wrongfully denied.  Public adjusters can be helpful toward that end.  Consult with a public adjuster when you feel that your claim was underpaid or wrongfully denied.

In Missouri, I provide free consultations to insured home owners who feel that they may be entitled to more than what they were paid for their claim.  Call me at 314-803-2167.

 

Five Good Reasons to Hire a Public Adjuster

1) Call a private adjuster before you file your claim.

Sometimes, if you wait and see what the insurance company is going to offer, it may be too late to present your claim in a way that meets your policy agreements. “My basement is flooded” could result in a denial for lack of “flood” insurance when the cause for flooding, presented correctly, could be covered under a standard home owners policy.  A public adjuster will know how to communicate your loss and will know the state rules governing the insurer’s response.  He works for you … not the insurance company.

2) A private adjuster will know your insurance policy and how it works.

Insurance policies are confusing and difficult to read and understand if you do not work with them, regularly. Public adjusters have detailed knowledge of most home and business policies and how they work. They will present their own estimates of damage to the insurance company, giving guidance from the very beginning of the process.

3) Concentrate on getting “back to normal”.

Having a public adjuster working for you allows you to focus on getting your family or business back to normal and take away the often tedious and anxious process of settling your claim to make needed repairs.  While you are attending to matters necessary to restore your home or your business, you public adjuster is focused on your claim without the same distractions that would be interfering with your efforts to do the same.

4) There are no up front or “out-of-pocket” costs.

You can afford a Public Adjuster. You do not pay a public adjuster until you have been paid by your insurer. Fees for public adjusters may vary and are higher (around 10%) for the smaller claims of up to $250,000 and will generally decrease for recovery of amounts greater than that.

5) Even after your claim has been closed, a public adjuster can help you recover a fair settlement.

After you have settled with your insurance company and find that the amount of your recovery was less than what you needed — or may have been entitled to — to properly address your loss, a public adjuster may be able to reopen your claim and obtain additional recovery.

In Missouri, contact me at 314-803-2167 or email me at jbushart@publicadjustermissouri.com .  There is no charge to call and see if I can help you.

Do You Have an Insurance Claim?

You know that there is damage to your home or personal property … but are you entitled to money to to address your damage from your insurance carrier?

The insurance company will send their adjuster (or one that they have contracted to represent them) to the home to investigate and prepare a report.

The following questions are what your insurance company’s adjuster will be attempting to answer in making the determination as to whether or not you should be paid and, if you should be paid, how much to pay you.

1.  Is the cause of loss covered?  His interpretation of the cause may or may not fall under a cause of loss covered by your policy.

2.  Is the property involved in the loss covered?  Coverage is limited to the property that is described on the declarations page but can also include grave markers and property off the premises, as well.

3.  Is the type of loss covered?  Not all types of losses are covered under a home owner’s or business insurance policy.  Items that should be replaced through normal maintenance, for example, would not be covered.

4.  Are the types and amounts of damages covered?  Does your policy contain certain limits for certain types of losses and damages?

5.  Is the person involved in the loss covered?

6.  Is the location of the loss covered?  Many home owners are unaware that certain losses their children experience in the college dorm can be covered under their policy.

7.  Is the time of the accident or occurrence within the policy period?

8.  Are the hazards involved in the loss covered?   Vandalism, for example, may not be covered when the property is vacant.

9.  Do any exclusions apply?

Use these questions to guide you in determining if you have a claim and should be paid.  When your insurance company’s adjuster does not agree with you, consult a public adjuster before accepting less than what you may be entitled to.

 

Hail Damage to Gutters – Repair or Replace?

I recently received an inquiry from a home owner who, following a recent hail storm, had his gutters damaged.  He asked if he should seek having his insurer pay to have them painted or replaced.

Although aluminum gutters can be repainted, this will become a process that will have to be repeated again and again over a period of time.  Even while the original surface will change color or become dull over time, the original surface is baked on and will not peel or crack, as will paint.  Painting gutters is, over time, the most expensive and least effective option.

This also applies to metal siding.

A home owner’s insurance policy entitles that the home be restored as close as possible to the condition that it was prior to the loss event.  Painting a gutter or metal siding does not accomplish this.  Replacing it, does.Damaged Gutter

Copyright 2013 James H. Bushart

http://www.publicadjustermissouri.com

 

Home Insurance Claim Highlights – 2013

As a very busy summer draws to a close, here are some of the highlights from the season’s most interesting claims.

1. The insurance company had delayed a response to a fire claim for six months. The home owner called me and soon after received an initial payment of $111,000.00 which, upon further review, was underpaid. We recovered an additional $14,000.00 a few weeks later.

2. The insurance company denied the church’s claim for storm damage to its steeple and interior. Their roofing contractor referred them to me and we soon recovered the full amount to repair the steeple, repair the damage to the interior of the church and to replace a section of the roof.

Damaged by 100 mph wind, this steeple was allowing water to flow into the church.

Damaged by 100 mph wind, this steeple was allowing water to flow into the church.

3. The insurance company denied a claim for damages to a home caused by a dishonest contractor. His financial advisor referred his client to me and we turned that “no” into a check for $10,000.00 and a waived $5,000 deductible (total value, $15,000.00).

4. The insurance company denied a claim for hail damage to his roof and my client’s roofing contractor referred him to me. We turned that “no” into a new roof.

5. The insurance company had refused to address the storm damage to her home and my client was referred to me by a friend. In a matter of weeks, we turned that “no” into a several thousands of dollars and a new roof.

6. The insurance company had said “no” and denied coverage to a storm damaged deck. My client was referred to me by a real estate agent. We turned that “no” into $16,400 for a rebuilt second story deck.

7. The insurance company had denied his roof claim stating that the storm with golf ball sized hail did not damage his roof. My client called me after finding me on the internet. We turned that “no” into over $21,000.00 for a new roof and gutter.

We did well on many other storm, theft and fire claims, as well. I’m looking forward to Autumn.

 

Copyright 2013 James H. Bushart

Public Adjusters and Independent Insurance Agents

Independent insurance agents often find themselves caught in the middle between their insured clients and the insurance company when a claims department fails to meet expectations.

Excerpt from Claims Journal Article

1.After a disaster, insureds have hundreds or even thousands of questions and worries. In a large-scale disaster, many of your local customers will be coming to you for answers. You may find yourself answering the phone every few minutes to address more questions and to resolve their fears. As an agent you will find it necessary to read the policy and then get back to the insured with their answers. You may find yourself at odds with the insurer if you add your own opinion or interpretation of the policy language and it differs from the insurer’s. This is an area where a public adjuster can add value since they will be the ones working directly with the insured and the insurer to address all coverage issues.

2. Customers who have suffered a loss are very emotional and upset. You will likely be the first person they call about their loss. Your customer will be in need of some immediate assistance and resources. Some of the things they will need are emergency services and temporary housing. Customers will also ask you to report their claim for them and will inquire as to the entire process. It is likely they will ask for a copy of their policy with a full explanation of their coverages. This is an important process that can be handled by a public insurance adjuster.

3. For the insured who experiences a disaster, working with numerous company adjusters, independent adjusters and contractors can be cumbersome, time-consuming and sometimes may even be infuriating. However, you as an independent agent want to stay neutral – you don’t want your customers yelling at you for decisions the insurer may be making and you certainly do not want your insurance company clients upset with you either. This can be a very challenging position to find yourself in. This is another reason why it makes sense to engage a public insurance adjuster – they are outside of the decision making process and will be an advocate for the insured.

Read this excellent article in its entirety that addresses several unique problems facing independent insurance agents … and offers a workable solution.

http://www.claimsjournal.com/news/national/2010/03/05/107917.htm#

 

Copyright 2013 James H. Bushart

 

“No” is Not Always the Final Answer With an Insurance Claim Denial

Steeple

A storm with 100 mph winds had damaged a steeple and allowed water to enter the church and cause significant damage. The church was insured and a claim was filed the following day.

The church’s insurance company denied their claim by improperly applying an exclusion in the policy that referred to “wind driven rain” and that precluded the church’s right to recover for the damage.

Their roofing contractor recommended that they contact me for assistance, which they did.

Although the insurance company’s adjuster and their engineer supported this exclusion and the denial of the claim, the facts that I brought to them after my investigation of the damage forced them to re-evaluate.

They eventually came to agree that the cause of the damage DID fall under the policy and  agreed to reverse their denial and issue a check to the church to cover their total loss.

“No” is not always the final answer with an insurance claim.

Copyright 2013 – James H. Bushart.

http://www.publicadjustermissouri.com

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