Processing is first-come, first-served so act fast.
Consumer Federation of America (FDA) Director for
Insurance Robert Hunter, said that the property
owners who usually receive claims within a few days,
may this time, see their checks after several weeks;
considering the volumes of claims to process. Most complicated cases may expect for 30 days to be settled, Hunter added.
A claim filed triggers the insurance adjuster to call the claimant to schedule a visit so the damage can be examined and
its cost estimated.
At events like hurricane Sandy, the insurance companies would set out “catastrophe forces” of claim processors, adjusters
and other staff so that the claimant can expect their visit for inspection to follow within days of the claim, said
State Farm Insurance spokeswoman Anna Bryant.
A hurricane aftermath is never easy, but you can try getting your own estimate costs from a contractor before the
inspection, suggested Hunter.
Such may convince the adjuster he shall be more realistic or generous in their assessment.
List all the damages. Take photos. Assemble your belongings but remember not to move the damaged items before
the adjuster arrives. Keep the receipts and include those of food, transportation and lodging if your house is already
uninhabitable. You might be given reimbursements for these costs.
Prepare for disappointments though. Hunter said that families may have to use their own finances for some damages
since insurance companies are gradually increasing deductibles of coverage and imposing other limitations to policies.
For example, the hurricane deductible requires the policyholder himself to shell out upfront a percentage of the value
of their home prior to insurance payments; and such can be thousands.
Don’t be pressured to accept a deal with an insurance agent just because there is an offer of money. A $22k was offered
to Shirley and Duncan Bellinger from Howes Cave, N.Y. for their manufactured residence after Irene destroyed it last
August. Such offer was a mere one-third of the replacement cost of their home, Duncan said.
He said he was pressured because the adjuster kept on saying he should sign the paper so he did, and many others
felt the same.
Hunter said that if the adjuster’s offer is lower than the estimated repair cost, you must request for a calculation
from your insurer. When documented, the insurer cannot give reasons for the low settlement justification;
such as an initial $2k estimate for repair suddenly becoming $1,500. They shall be locked in.
According to Hunter, you can then file for a larger settlement with the insurer. If they do not grant it, contact the
insurance department of your state which might intervene for you. Most shall call the company at least.
And your ultimate resort – seek help from a lawyer.