Written by Rami Boaziz on December 26, 2018 at 12:17 PM.
Filing an insurance claim after a disaster is often difficult and stressful, even for a single structure with one owner. For community associations, the challenge is greater and the stakes are higher. Board members must suddenly become experts. They need to interpret governing documents, understand property insurance policies, consider Florida laws, assess damage, and manage contractors. To complicate matters, associations have numerous stakeholders, each with their own opinions.An experienced public adjuster can lift this burden by handling the competing demands of the disaster recovery process, filing your claim and advocating for a maximum settlement. This article explains the critical role of a public adjuster for community associations before, during and after a disaster.
Community associations must have a disaster preparedness plan. Not only for the safety of residents but to prevent delays in claims processing and ensure a fair settlement. The board should have at a minimum:
– Governing documents to confirm damage responsibilities (resident versus association)
– Recent photos of property (to show pre-disaster status)
– Copies of insurance policies and contact information
– Approved budget for pre-settlement disaster recovery spending
– Access to a credit card or cash for immediate disaster needs
– Approved vendors for debris removal, damage assessment, and other construction/building needs
A public adjuster can help with the development of these crucial planning documents. For example, an adjuster can review the photos of your property and suggest certain angles or close-ups to confirm structural details. They can provide a third-party opinion on your insurance policy based on their experience with disasters in your community.
It’s important to select your public adjuster before disaster strikes, so you can evaluate their experience and approve a qualified agency. Your community association can be confident that they are ready when the time comes.
After a disaster, your community association should call your public adjuster immediately. They will arrive onsite to assess the damages. A public adjuster can take photographs, videos, and notes, knowing exactly what to document and how best to do it. They can also advise on what immediate repairs should be made. Insurance companies want you to prevent further damage, but your public adjuster will make sure it doesn’t affect your settlement.
A qualified public adjuster in Florida will have experience with the most common types of insurable claims, often caused by natural disasters like hurricanes. Having witnessed the effects of collapsed walls and roofs, flooded living areas, and downed power lines, Florida public adjusters have a general sense of what will be covered and can provide preliminary guidance to your association.
Most public adjusters also have a team of construction and engineering experts to walk through and document damages that go beneath the surface. This is a critical benefit for community associations. Without building expertise, long-term problems might be overlooked and unaccounted for in the total value of your claim.
When it is time to file your claim, just filling out the standard forms and answering the insurance company’s questions won’t ensure the best settlement. Your association could hurt their chances of a fair settlement by providing inaccurate or incomplete information.
A public adjuster will do everything possible to prepare your claim for swift approval of the maximum amount. In fact, a 2010 report from the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) reported a more than 700 percent increase in property damage claim payouts when represented by a public adjuster.
A public adjuster will first assess the real value of your claim. This includes debris removal, surface and structural damages, replacement costs, and other factors. Their assessment will be backed up with thorough documentation and accurate references for projected costs. Second, they will consider the insurance language, policy type, and any special requirements from your insurance company. A public adjuster’s objective is to submit a substantial claim, right from the first submission.
Public adjusters also act as the single point of contact throughout the claims process. They will respond to questions from the insurance company and keep your association informed, so you can focus on other important matters related to the recovery process.
Once you submit a claim, the insurance company’s goal is to protect their financial interests. Having a public adjuster can put your association on an even playing field with your insurance company.
The insurance company may make inaccurate financial assumptions or apply national averages to the cost of repairs or materials, which don’t line up with actual costs in your Florida community. They may not account for temporary spikes in the price of gas as a result of the disaster. The public adjuster will continue to press for accurate estimates and provide references to back up their claims.
In the state of Florida, the laws governing condominium and homeowners associations are different, and statutes have changed numerous times. Insurance companies can use this confusion to their advantage by interpreting the law in their favor. This is another scenario where an expert is vital to making sure your community’s settlement is fair.
A qualified public adjuster is a crucial part of your Florida community’s disaster plan. They can help you prepare, respond immediately after a disaster, guide you through the claims process, and advocate for your community until the ideal settlement arrives. Contact us today for a free claim inspection.
*Disclaimer: The content of this article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor should it be viewed as legal advice. Consult with an attorney on your particular circumstances before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article. Stellar Public Adjusting, Inc. assumes no legal liability for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information disclosed in this article.
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The insurance company is not on your side and they are not a good neighbor.
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David has done multiple claims for our real estate company, as well as for myself and friends. Always exceeds expectations. Highly reliable, and completely on top of his game. Highly recommended.
Glad I hired them. Stellar Public Adjusting assisted in my water damage claim in my condo from my neighbors pipe. They really know there stuff when it comes to claims. They obtained way more than my insurance company initially offered. A very professional company.
Worked with Stellar on a project involving a kitchen flood. They were always there to help & answer all the questions I had - and they reached a fair settlement with my insurance for me. I probably wouldn't have gotten half of what I did without them! I'd easily recommend them to anyone needing a Public Adjuster.
HIGHLY recommend Stellar Public Adjusting! Meticulously and professionally handled our claim, and stood by our side throughout the entire process! Thank you!
Friendly staff and work really hard to get what you deserve. I appreciate everything they did for me. Thank you again.