Filing an insurance claim can be an extensive process. On a major loss like a house fire, the value of your claim will be substantial, and there may be several parties involved. It will help you to understand the roles of everyone involved.
What Does the Insurer Do?
The insurance policy is a contract between the homeowner and the insurer. The homeowner pays a premium in exchange for the peace of mind of insurance coverage. If something should go wrong, the insurer will pay out to fix the problem or replace lost belongings. Regardless of whoever else is involved, the insurer is the one who offers you a settlement and writes the check.
Who Is the Insurance Adjuster?
The insurance adjuster is a professional who evaluates the extent of your loss. They will survey the damage to your home, review your Proof of Loss (a document which lists and prices all of the damages your home sustained), and compare those losses to your insurance coverage. It’s their job to determine how much your insurance claim should be worth.
Insurers may hire third-party insurance adjuster companies to work on your file and recommend how much they should offer.
Even independent companies may be motivated to keep costs under control so that they continue to get work from the contractors insurance companies. Homeowners should be aware that the insurance adjuster may not have their best interest in mind.
How Can a Lawyer Help?
Homeowners may want someone to help guide them through the claim and represent their interests, especially on major claims. An insurance lawyer works for you, and they are invested in making sure you receive a fair offer from the insurance company.
It is the lawyer’s job to make sure the insurer lives up to the terms set out in your insurance policy. It’s a contract, and they have the language and knowledge of past disputes to make the insurance company listen when they’ve undervalued your loss.
Can You Choose the Builder?
The question of who is going to rebuild your home can be a contentious one. Typically, insurance companies want to give the work to a contractor in their preferred network. Contractors may bid on projects, with the insurer picking the lowest bid. In addition, insurers know that contractors who do most of their work on insurance claims will tend to be cooperative.
Many homeowners are reluctant to work with the insurer’s preferred contractor and may reject them. It’s then up to them to find their own builder to do the restoration work. The issue is that the insurer may only payout based on their preferred contractor’s work. If your builder has higher costs, you can wind up on the hook for the extra expenses.
One way to avoid this situation is to get the insurer to approve your contractor so that they can settle the costs between each other without leaving you paying extra.
There can be many parties involved in an insurance claim. As the homeowner, it helps if you know what everyone’s role is and who’s working for whom.