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Guardian Adjusting Blog
Tips and information on all types of property damage claims.


Before Calling the Insurance Company

Rick Tapanes - Thursday, May 25, 2017

What to Do Before Calling Your Insurance Company

It is unusual to contact your insurance company for anything other than the price of your policy, but is vital to be ready for the conversation that will come if you experience a property loss and have to file a claim. There are some things you can do to prepare and to maintain the upper hand when dealing with your property insurance company regarding a claim.

Review Your Policy – Know what benefits your property insurance policy includes and what steps you must take to insure coverage.

Maintain Detailed Records – You do not want to depend on your insurance company for proof when filing a claim. Keep all documents that your insurance company sends you, such as proof of payment and explanation of benefits. Retrieve these along with any other related documents that might pertain to the claim before filing it. Furthermore, keep a copy of everything you send them.

Take Notes – Record the date and time and the name of the representative you spoke with every time you call the insurance company.

Hire a Contractor – Have a good restoration contractor perform a damage inspection on your property. They will provide you with a detailed report of the damage and an estimate of the cost of repairs. The best way to find a good contractor is through a referral. Your public insurance adjuster (see below) can help.

Hire a Public Adjuster – A public insurance adjuster acts as a liaison between you and your insurance company and will always work for your best interest. A public adjuster will work with the contractor to negotiate the highest possible claim for you. Note that a contractor cannot work as a public insurance adjuster, nor can adjusters work as contractors. Be very wary of a contractor who offers to negotiate your insurance claim for you.

Knowing your rights and hiring the right experts to represent you are the best ways to protect your property and maximize your property loss claim. Remember that the insurance company is not necessarily looking out for your interests. Here are a few additional things to consider before making that call to your insurance company:

  • Be familiar with your policy and know your rights.
  • Many insurance companies place limits on the time you can claim a file. Do not put it off.
  • Insurance restoration contractors and public insurance adjusters represent your interests.
  • Hire the most qualified contractor and adjuster even if it means paying a little more.
  • Be wary of insurance company referred contractors.

The public adjusters at Guardian Adjusting Services are ready to help you with your property damage claim. Call us today to maximize your claim.

Maximize Your Claim

Rick Tapanes - Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Public Adjusters Work to Maximize Your Settlement

After you have suffered property damage, one of your primary concerns is receiving the insurance check that will allow you to repair your property and get your life back to normal. You have been diligent about making your premium payments, and now you expect, rightly so, that your insurance company will step up and provide the relief you have purchased ahead of time, gladly and promptly. But we all know that the insurance industry does not work like that. You are about to enter tough negotiations during which your insurance company will lowball your settlement or maybe even deny your claim.

It does not have to be this way. You do not have to face this process alone. If you want to maximize your insurance settlement, it is time to contact a public insurance adjuster.

Do Not Face Negotiations Alone

The insurance claim process can be complicated and frustrating for someone who is not familiar with it. Insurance companies often design it that way. It is one of the many ways they try to withhold your money. When trouble strikes, and it seems as though the insurance company is unwilling to pay, many will turn to an expensive attorney to help with the matter. What you may actually need is a public insurance adjuster. An advocate who will fight for your rights as an insurance policy holder and work to maximize your insurance settlement.

Maximizing your claim starts with calling a public adjuster. A public insurance adjuster will examine your policy to understand exactly what your coverage includes. They will perform a thorough inspection of your property to uncover all the damage, even damage that is not initially apparent. Do not simply accept the insurance company’s appraisal of your damages. They are not looking out for you, they are looking to minimize costs and maximize profits. That is their business.

After determining the severity of the damage, the public adjuster can put you in contact with contractors that will offer a fair repair estimate that can be turned over to the insurance company. All along the process, the public insurance adjuster will handle the negotiations with your insurance company. When it is time, the public adjuster will prepare a comprehensive claim and then continue negotiating and fighting for the largest settlement they could possibly get.

At Guardian Adjusting Services we specialize in maximizing property damage insurance claims for our clients. Contact us before damage occurs and we will be ready to step in and assist you when the time comes.

Types of Adjusters

Rick Tapanes - Thursday, February 23, 2017

Insurance Company Adjusters Vs. Public Adjusters

There are two primary types of adjusters you may encounter when dealing with property insurance: the insurance company’s own adjuster who work on behalf of the insurance company that employs them, and public adjusters who are advocates for insurance policy holders. Although they both hold the title of adjuster, their work is often in direct opposition.

Insurance Company Adjusters

Insurance company adjusters work, of course, on behalf of insurance companies. They have responsibilities before and after damage might occur. Insurance company adjusters provide policy quotes to potential customers. To do this, insurance company adjuster study a number of factors including things like property location, distance from the closest fire department, relation to earthquake prone areas, neighborhood crime rates and the building materials and structure of the property. In addition, they will investigate the applicant’s credit history, income level and amount of debt.

After a property damage claim has been filed, the insurance company adjuster will examine the insurance policy and visit the site of the damage. There, a property inspection is performed to determine the extent of the damage. The adjuster will use that information to prepare a preliminary estimate for the repairs. If the property owner accepts the proposed amount, a check is issued to the property owner which they will use to pay for the repairs to the property.

Public Insurance Adjusters

Public adjusters work on behalf of property owners and try to maximize the amount of the settlement received from the insurance company. Once a public adjuster is brought in, they will deal directly with the insurance company, and the insurance company’s adjuster, on most matters. The public adjuster will perform their own property inspection, often uncovering additional damage not in the insurance company adjuster’s report. This can lead to a larger settlement for the property owner. A public insurance adjuster will negotiate with the insurance company, prepare and file the insurance claim, and appeal on behalf of the property owner if the claim is denied. In some cases, the public adjuster may recommend that the insured hire an attorney if they believe the claim will need to be disputed legally.

At Guardian Adjusting Services, we work hard to get South Florida property owners the insurance settlements they deserve so they can get their lives back on track after a loss. It is not advisable to deal with insurance company adjusters on your own. Hire a public adjuster as your advocate or risk being underserved by your insurance company. Call us today to learn how we can help.

Claim Negotiation

Rick Tapanes - Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Public Insurance Adjusters Can Negotiate a Better Settlement

We make many negotiations throughout our lives. From marriage, to the children’s bedtime and requesting a raise, negotiations come into play in many aspects of our lives. Negotiation skills are developed each time we face one of these situations. If you suffer property damage and file a claim with your property insurance company, you are, in essence, initiating a negotiation. However, regardless of how many negotiations you have taken part in, negotiating with your insurance company is not something you want to take on alone.

In the eyes of the insured, a claim may not be the most appropriate term. As the property owner, you may have suffered a serious, possibly personal, loss, but to the insurance company the loss is reduced to a claim. To the insurance company it is a claim that must be negotiated. You will negotiate to be fairly compensated for your loss. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that your insurance company will actually provide fair compensation. The bottom line for the insurance company is that every dollar they pay toward your claim cuts into their profits. It is important to remember that insurance companies are in business to be as profitable as possible. Do not be surprised if the insurance company makes a settlement offer that appears to be wholly insufficient or simply denies the claim outright.

For these reasons, it is important get the help of someone capable of negotiating your claim for you. A good public insurance adjuster can be your representative to the insurance company. Every step along the way your insurance company will attempt to hinder your efforts to receive the compensation you are entitled to. A public insurance adjuster will work on your behalf to maximize your settlement so that you can get your property back to its proper condition. Trust a public insurance adjuster to perform a property inspection that will uncover any and all damage, represent you in all meetings with the insurance company, fill out the paperwork for your claim and be by your side until you have received your settlement.

The public adjusters at Guardian Adjusting are ready to negotiate your insurance claim for you. We have years of experience helping South Florida property owners obtain fair settlements from their insurance companies for their loss. Call us today for to learn how we can help you before property damage strikes.

Questions for Public Adjusters

Rick Tapanes - Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Questions You Should Ask Your Public Adjuster

Have you recently suffered property damage? Perhaps you are considering hiring a public insurance adjuster. If you expect your claim to be for $10,000 or more, it is probably a good idea to get some help with that claim.

Documenting a claim, or listing everything that has been lost or damaged is more work than most realize, but it must be done before the claim process can begin. Once that claim has been submitted you can expect to negotiate with your insurance company since they are likely to lowball their initial settlement offer. For this and other reasons, having a professional on your side can help maximize your settlement and get your property repaired quickly and properly.

Hiring a Public Adjuster

Finding a reputable public insurance adjuster is something you should put some time and thought into. Ideally, you will establish a relationship with a good public adjuster that you feel comfortable working with before you ever suffer any property damage. Your adjuster will be familiar with your policy and property if the day ever comes for them to provide their services.

Referrals are a good place to start your search for a public insurance adjuster. Next make sure that the public adjuster is licensed to work in your state. Once you are ready to meet with them, consider asking these questions to determine their expertise and whether they are a good fit for you.

Would you describe your skills? Ask the adjuster to describe their specialties and some of the work they have done in the past. This will give you a sense if their expertise lines up with your needs. Do they have more experience with commercial buildings or residential homes. Have they dealt with more flood claim or fire claims? What are some of the highlights of their career as a public adjuster?

How many claims are you handling currently? A large number of claims could mean that they are good at what they do and regularly get referred. A low number of claims might mean that they will be more available to service you.

Can you provide personal references from previous clients? Personal references are the best way to gauge customer satisfaction. An experienced public adjuster should have a long list of previous clients. A good public adjuster should be able to provide positive testimonials.

With the answers to these questions you should be able to make a list of pros and cons for the prospective public adjuster. At Guardian Adjusting we are ready to answer any questions you may have and get to the business of helping you with you claim. Our public adjusters are experienced in all forms of properties and damage. Call us today to set up a meeting.

2016 Hurricane Season

Rick Tapanes - Wednesday, June 22, 2016

2016 Hurricane Season Will Be Close to the 30 Year Average

The 2016 Atlantic hurricane season is here and the forecast calls for a storm season close to the historical average. Property owners in South Florida and along the US Atlantic and Gulf coasts would be wise to take note. Now is the time to prepare your property for the possibility of a hurricane or strong tropical storm making landfall and potentially causing damage.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30 with peak storm activity occurring from July to October. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center has predicted the formation of 12 named storms with five of those developing into hurricanes and two into major hurricanes this season. The average over the last 30 years has been 12 named storms with six developing into hurricanes and three into major hurricanes.

A major hurricane is one of Category 3 or stronger. Category 3 hurricanes have sustained winds of 111-129 mph. The highest hurricane category, Category 5, has sustained winds greater than 157 mph. Hurricane Andrew, which made landfall in South Florida in August of 1992, was a Category 5 hurricane.

Interestingly, these predictions to not include Hurricane Alex which formed in January. Hurricanes outside of the regular season are rare but do occasionally develop. Hurricane Alex was a Category 1 hurricane that struck the Azores islands, 800 miles east of Portugal. This was the first January hurricane since 1955.

Landfall Difficult to Predict

Historically, a busy hurricane season does not necessarily correlate with hurricanes making landfall. Property owners and residents in areas that could be affected should make preparations regardless of the forecast for the season. It is possible that one or more of the named storms expected this season could strike the US, but it is also possible that we will avoid every one of them. Looking back again to 1992 we can see an example a very quiet storm season with only six named storms - half of what is expected this year. The one storm that did make landfall was the aforementioned Category 5 Andrew which had a devastating effect on Miami-Dade County. Compare that to the very busy 2010 hurricane season which saw none of its 19 named storms, 12 of which became hurricanes, make landfall.

Are We Due for a Major Hurricane?

The NOAA says that the average number of yearly hurricane landfalls in the US is one or two. The last 10 years, however, have seen an average much lower than that with a total of seven hurricane landfalls. It is likely that the US will be struck by another hurricane sooner rather than later, but it is not possible to predict if it will happen this season. It should be noted that even a tropical storm making landfall could cause major damage, especially if it is slow moving and brings heavy amounts of rain.

In the end what a busy hurricane season really means is that there will be more storms to keep an eye on as they develop and move through the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Property owners are encouraged to stay abreast of storm activity and have a plan in place in the event that a storm approaches. One part of that plan should be to review your property insurance policy. The public adjusters at Guardian Adjusting can help you review your policy and ensure that you have sufficient coverage. Call us today to schedule a consultation.

Sinkhole Coverage

Rick Tapanes - Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Are You Covered Against Sinkhole Damage?

A sinkhole can be a frightening occurrence, especially for a homeowner. Sinkholes occur when a hole or depression opens in the ground and they are caused by the collapse of an underground surface layer, which in turn is caused by water dissolving underground layers of soil and rock (usually limestone in Florida). These depression can be anywhere from 1 to 600 meters in diameter and depth. In Florida sinkholes are an unfortunate reality. To protect property owners, the law in South Florida requires all property insurance policies to cover what is called catastrophic ground cover collapse. There are four basic but increasingly serious requirements that must be met before this coverage takes effect:

  • The ground collapse occured suddenly
  • The ground collapse is clearly visible
  • The structure of the property is damaged
  • A government authority has condemned the property and ordered its evacuation

That last requirement is key, because if the property is not unfit to be occupied, the catastrophic ground cover collapse coverage will not kick in. So what happens if your home is seriously damaged but still livable? For this type of loss you may need sinkhole coverage.

Sinkhole Coverage

Sinkhole coverage will protect a property owner in the event of damage resulting from a sinkhole that does not necessarily meet all of the above criteria. Some sinkhole do not occur suddenly but rat

her gradually, and, furthermore are not visible to the naked eye. These slow forming sinkholes can still cause structural damage such as cracked walls or depressions in floors. This type of damage may not force you out of your home, but will obviously require repairs.

If you are not sure of about your sinkhole coverage, or whether or not you have it, the public adjusters at Guardian Adjusting can help. Allow us to review your policy before an event occurs to insure that your property is protected. Sinkhole coverage is not generally expensive but it will protect you from expensive repairs, especially when the damage is not catastrophic.

What to Do if a Sinkhole Occurs

The first and most important action to take if a sinkhole occurs under your property is to insure everyone's safety. This may mean leaving the property and staying somewhere else until the extent of, or potential for, danger can be determined. The safety of relocating may very well outweigh the inconvenience. Furthermore, many policies will cover alternate living expenses in some cases. The next step is to contact a public adjuster. A good Florida public adjuster can give you clear advise about what your insurance policy covers and what steps are appropriate in such a circumstance, such as contacting local authorities.

Not everyone has a complete picture of their property insurance coverage. It is best to know early and insure that you have the coverage you need. Call Guardian Adjusting today to set up a consultation with one of our expert public adjusters. We can perform a complete review of your policy and help you cover any gaps that may exist. Remember that you are likely covered for a catastrophic sinkhole loss, but that may not be enough.

Right to Repair

Rick Tapanes - Friday, February 26, 2016

You May Have Options if Your Insurance Company Invokes the Right to Repair

Does your property insurance policy include a “right to repair” clause – sometimes called “option to repair”? If you do not know, look under the “loss payment” portion of your policy where right to repair clause is usually found. On the surface that term certainly sounds like something that will be beneficial to you, but in reality it is a euphemism that grants your insurance company control over who will repair your damaged property. The concept of right to repair has been around for some time. Recently Florida insurance companies have been making it part of their regular process.

The problem with this approach, from the point of view of the property owner (it generally works out great for the insurer) is that your insurance company is interested in repairing your damaged property for as little money as possible. The contractors that will repair your property are working directly for the insurance company, not for you.

Furthermore, you have no control over the payment to the contractor and therefore have no control over the work. You will be unable to make any repairs yourself, if you are so inclined, and will not be allowed to bring in your own contractors. The right to repair also strips the property owner of their right to dispute the settlement. The insured and anyone advocating for them is taken out of the equation. The insurance company retains control over everything. Unfortunately this can sometimes result in substandard repairs.

But it is not so cut and dry. By invoking the right to repair the insurance company actually becomes the guarantor of the work done and has to accept liability for any law construction upgrades that the building department requires. For this reason, the right to repair is often used as a simple strong arm tactic. The insured is given the option to accept the insurance company’s settlement offer or they threaten to bring in their own contractors and take over the repairs.

All of this does not mean that the property owner is without rights. The insured has the right to demand that the insurance company provide the scope of work that will be done. This should include plans to make repairs with quality materials and that adhere to building code. Read your policy carefully and understand what is involved.

This is where a public adjuster from Guardian Adjusting can be a great help. The best time to call a public adjuster is before any damage has occurred. One of our public adjusters can review your policy with you beforehand and explain the right to repair clause. In the event of property damage, your public adjuster will at the ready to assist you in dealing with the insurance company. Since right to repair is often nothing more than a bullying tactic used by the insurance company, you may be surprised what a strong advocate on your side can accomplish. Call us today to set an appointment and have the protection you need at the ready.

Underpaid Claims

Rick Tapanes - Monday, January 25, 2016

Don’t Settle for Your Insurance Company’s Underpayment

Unless you have experienced property damage in the past, or have some expertise in estimating the cost of property damage, you may not even be aware if your insurance company is underpaying your claim. Without someone with that expertise working on your behalf, you may be opening yourself up to be taken advantage of.

It is not to say that insurance companies are out to cheat their customers, but their adjusters will work to minimize their costs, even if that means that you don’t get every dollar you are entitled to. Minimizing your settlement and underpaying your claims are simply ways to increase their bottom line. It is actually rare that an insurance company’s first settlement offer will be sufficient to make necessary repairs. In the worse cases, you may end up with a denied claim and no money for repairs whatsoever. Without an advocate, you are likely to take what they offer without question.

A Second Opinion

In order to protect your interests, it is best to get a second opinion on the extent and cost of your property damage. Public adjusters work as advocates for the insured. A public adjuster will perform their own inspection of the damaged property, provide a complete and unbiased estimate of the repair or replacement costs, and even act as a negotiator with your insurance company. And the services do not end there. A public adjuster will also help you complete and file your insurance claim paperwork and provide contact information for reputable contractors to get your repairs done. Furthermore, you can count on your public adjuster to be available every step of the way to answer your questions and address your concerns. In fact, by simply hiring a public adjuster, you are sending a message to your insurance company that you will not just settle for what they offer.

After the Fact

If you already accepted a settlement that you later realize is too low, or if your property insurance claim has been denied, it may not be too late. A public adjuster can help you with the process of reopening a claim and getting you the money you deserve. Reopening a claim for further settlement is a complex process and should definitely not be attempted alone.

The public adjusters at Guardian Adjusting Services have years of experience dealing with underpaid claims and reopening denied claims to get their clients the money they need and deserve to repair their property. Call Guardian Adjusting Services before damage occurs and we’ll be ready to act in the event of property damage. If you have already accepted a claim, call us as well. We can review your settlement and help you reopen your claim.

Hiring a Public Adjuster

Rick Tapanes - Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Picking the Right Public Adjuster

Most people do not realize that when your home or business is damaged, you must document the claim. This means that time has to be spent listing all of the loss, item by item, and determining the cost to replace or repair everything. After filing a claim, you are not done. Unless you negotiate with the insurance company and basically fight for the money you are entitled to, you are likely to get paid less than you expect or deserve. This is where a public adjuster comes in.

Insurance companies have their own adjusters. One of them will visit our property to survey the damage and make a determination of the cost of repairs. Do not think for a minute that the number they come up with will be in your best interest. A public adjuster works for the policy holder. Similarly, they will visit the site survey the damage and determine the extent and cost of the damage. The difference is that a public adjuster serves the policy holder’s interests, not the insurance company’s. A good public adjuster will also be able to uncover hidden damage that is not readily apparent and insure that it is included in the property damage claim. Furthermore, a public adjuster will act as an advocate for the policy holder until such time as the settlement is paid. They help document the damage, prepare the insurance claim, meet with insurance company representatives, and guide the policy holder along the entire process.

What to Look for in a Public Adjuster

Finding a good public adjuster may take a bit of effort and research. Not all public adjusters are equally experienced or effective. Make sure you hire a public adjuster that will work hard to get you the money you deserve. Here are some steps to take before deciding which public adjuster you want to represent you.

Hire Within Your Area – This is a matter of accessibility. There are damage surveys to perform, meetings with the insurance company to attend, repairs to oversee. Make sure your public adjuster works in your region and will be readily available to assist you.

Hire a Licensed Public Adjuster – It is not uncommon for a public adjuster to work under a colleague’s or employer’s public adjuster license. Ask to see the professional’s license documentation to insure you are hiring someone qualified to do the job. Also find out how many years of experience, as well as what specific skills and credentials they have. This will help in your choice.

Check References – Past employers and clients are ideal. Ask if it would be OK to call them. Talking to a previous client is the best way to learn about the public adjuster’s dedication, demeanor and the outcome of previous work. They will give you a good idea of what level of service and performance to expect.

Negotiate the Fee – Public Adjusters generally work on contingency fees. They will get paid when the property damage claim is settled and the fee will be a percentage of that settlement, usually between 5% and 15%.

The best idea is to and establish a relation with a public adjuster before any damage has occurred. This way the public adjuster will already be familiar with your insurance coverage and ready to represent you immediately in the event of property damage. Guardian Adjusting has a team of highly qualified public adjuster ready to meet with you. Call us today to set an appointment and be ready in case of a future event.

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