THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2016
The short answer is yes! Let me tell you what happened to Jessie & Roberta.
Jessie and Roberta had a minor pipe leak under their kitchen sink; the plumber they hired urged them to call a Public Adjuster (PA). I am sure the plumber didn't tell them he was paid a finder's fee in excess of $1000 for referring them. The Public Adjuster made promises that he could get a maximum payout from the insurance company and required them to sign a form called an Assignment of Benefits or AOB. Once they signed up, they thought they were good to go. What they didn't understand is that most AOB's are actually a non-expiring unlimited power of attorney which allows the Public Adjuster to do just about anything, including delay the claim, opening a bank account in the policyholders name and giving the Public Adjuster (not the homeowner) the final say about settling the claim.
So back to Jessie and Roberta. The Public Adjuster inflated the claim from $17,000 to over $40,000 for things the customers had no intention of replacing. These were things like extra drywall, paint and moldings that were not damaged, as well as flooring that would not be replaced — as the insured simply put a threshold at the kitchen entrance and replaced only the kitchen floor (even though they were paid to replace the flooring all over the house).
Now the bad news: When the policy was coming up for renewal, the carrier asked for proof of all the repairs that should have been done (and that they had paid for as part of the claim settlement). Unfortunately, once the Public Adjuster took his hefty cut, there wasn't enough money left to complete all the replacements detailed on the claim. At the time of the claim settlement, Jessie and Roberta didn't realize exactly what the Public Adjuster did to get them a $40,000 claim payment. They had no idea that the insurance company had a right to request receipts and pictures of all the repairs. The receipts were scanned and not detailed and the photos couldn't show the repair and replacement of floors, drywall, moldings etc. that hadn't been replaced.
In the end, Jessie and Roberta were cancelled by their home insurance company due to unrepaired damage. You might think they could just go to another home insurance company, but in today's world of easy access to knowledge, every other home insurance company can and will access the data base that shows the home has unrepaired damage. No other company will insure a home once it is marked as having unrepaired damage. There simply is no place for them to go at this point. Since they have a mortgage on their home, their lender is putting "Forced Place" insurance coverage on the home to cover the lender's equity in the home. "Forced Place" policies are usually 3 times the price of a home insurance policy that a homeowner can purchase. The lender adds the cost of the policy on to the amount owed for the mortgage and the "Forced Place" policy does not offer any protection for the homeowner's personal property or liability.
Most insurance companies have good, fair claims adjusters, and it is not necessary to hire a Public Adjuster to get your claim settled. In addition, your insurance agent is there to help you. As you can see by Jessie and Roberta's experience, getting that extra money is ending up costing them much more in the long run.
If you have questions about home insurance, we can help! Call Fulton Agency, Inc. at (954) 752-8610 for more information on Florida home insurance.
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