We typically work on a contingency fee basis, which means that you owe no attorney fees to Kim M Adams PLLC unless we recover. Further, we will advance the costs of experts to document your claim and litigation costs. You only owe those costs in the event of a recovery. Contact our office for further details. As always, the initial consultation is free.
When you have a claim, particularly after a large storm, you will be approached by many different people, all claiming to be there to help you. While some may be qualified and helpful, be very careful about checking the credentials and experience of anyone who gets involved in your property insurance claim.
First, you will be contacted by your insurance company. It may be from the call center just advising you of the claim number and that someone will be in contact with you, or you may receive a letter from the inside desk adjuster with their contact information and advising they are sending a field adjuster. The field adjuster will most likely NOT be employed by your insurance company. They will likely be an Independent Adjuster (“IA”) who is contracted by your carrier to handle the adjustment. That IA will report to the inside desk adjuster, who will review their photos, estimate and reports and make a determination of coverage and the amount of your claim.
In the meantime, you will be contacted — dare we say, hounded — by myriads of other companies, roofing contractors, board up contractors, public adjusters and others. They will all tell you that they can help you with your insurance claim. However, in Florida, only duly licensed attorneys and public adjusters are legally allowed to represent you. Contractors are not licensed to represent your interests in your insurance claim and it is, therefore, illegal for them to do so.
One way contractors work around the licensing issue is to have property owners assign their insurance benefits to them. Property owners unwittingly sign these documents not realizing the ramifications to their insurance claim and ultimately, their home or business. These contracts are called Assignment of Benefits contracts (“AOB”). They direct your insurance company to issue checks to your contractor, leaving you out of the adjustment process and control of your claim and property. This leaves the property owner little recourse in the event there is a disagreement between him or her and the contractor. There have been accounts of contractors taking the insurance proceeds and not doing the work. While AOB contracts are legal in the state of Florida, one should have competent counsel review and explain the ramifications to you before signing.
- Keep a file of all documents that relate to your claim.
- Keep all damage available for the insurance adjuster to inspect. One of the many duties listed on your insurance policy is to, as often as reasonably required, show the damaged property to the insurance company. If you are going to make a claim for it, be sure the insurance adjuster has had a chance to inspect it.
- You also have a duty to protect your property from further damage, or mitigate your loss. This includes roof tarps to stop water from coming in, dry out in the event of a water claim, etc.
- Keep all receipts or invoices of work that has been completed. Put them in your file.
- Get the business card of every person who approaches you regarding your claim, particularly the people retained by the insurance company. Put these cards in your file.
- Keep all correspondence to and from the insurance company in your file.
- Do your due diligence before retaining or hiring contractors, tree removal companies, public adjusters and attorneys. Be sure they are duly licensed if a license is required. Also, be sure to check their credentials to see that you are getting the most experienced competent people on your team. A little work early on in your claim will save you time and aggravation in the long run.
- DO NOT SIGN ANY DOCUMENTS FROM PEOPLE WHO KNOCK ON YOUR DOOR OR “COLD CALL.” In the fog of the aftermath of the storm, it is tempting to sign something from someone promising to take care of everything. This is not wise in the long run. Instead, take the document and tell them you will review and get back to them. Call our office if you have any questions regarding any one of these documents.
- Do not complete any repairs, except to mitigate or protect the property from further damage, before the insurance adjuster has inspected.
- Do not throw away items that you are claiming before the insurance adjuster has inspected.
Kim M Adams will need all documents pertaining to the insurance claim including:
- The insurance policy declarations page or the entire policy if available
- Any correspondence to and from the insurance company, particularly any letters concerning claim settlement or denial
- Any other correspondence such as emails or text messages
- Copies of engineer’s or other expert reports that were either procured by you or the carrier, if available
- Copies of the insurance company adjuster’s estimates or contents inventory
Even if you think it is not important, send it to us.