When a devastating event happens, such as the fire loss of your property, there is usually a rush to file loss claims.
This knee jerk reaction can cost you thousands of dollars in unrecoverable loss. Most insurance companies will respond immediately with a adjuster usually under the guise of "we are here to help." The biggest mistakes most insured make is to believe the adjuster is there just to be helpful. He or she is there for two reasons.
The insurance company is bound by your insurance contract to respond.
The insurance company knows it is in their best interest to get you to settle as fast as possible. His/her real job is to get you to settle and sign off for as little as you are willing to accept. Thus resulting in controlling the amount of loss the insurance will have to pay.
The following is a step by step how not to become a victim of your insurance company.
1. Make sure you obtain a professional, fire claims experienced, attorney to handle your claim. This will sound expensive however, it will not cost you anything in the long run. A good attorney or firm will accept your case with no up front payment and a fixed fee not based upon the amount of settlement. To find a qualified attorney in your area contact the State Bar of California attorney search.
2. Separate the replacement of your home from your personal property loss. Keep all claims and settlements separate. This allows you to get the maximum and correct payment for your loss.
3. Most insurance polices are for replacement value. This means you have the right to choose your builder even if the bid is the highest one. You do not have to settle for your adjusters recommended contractors. See your attorney for details.
4. Many homes that burned were built eight to ten years ago or more, prior to the huge influx of foreign made building, decorating materials and furnishings. For example Home Depot, Lowes, etc., primarily only offer foreign made (mostly in china) interior and exterior lighting, doors, windows and other building items. These items might look the same but the value is not the same that was installed on or in your home back when it was real steel instead pot metals or solid wood doors instead of paste boards and veneers. If you settle for less quality you loose in the long run. You have the right to request these materials be the same.
5. Furnishings that were in your home, purchased prior to seven or eight years ago, were probably from a name brand American manufacturer made in America. The further back your furnishings were purchased the better the quality and your investment. If you allow replacement by these same name brands you may not get the quality you once had. Most furniture made by these same manufacturers is now made in china or some country with a less expensive work force. The work force is only part of the problem. In the name of making a larger profit these same manufacturers allowed the use of fake or faux materials such as composition boards, paste boards, and veneers or films that look like the real thing. Furnishings that are made this way will never become antiquities or increase in value. This kind of merchandise and materials is 98% of what is being offered in the market place today. Usually marked up four to five hundred percent for profit. If you settle for this merchandise to replace your investment quality, U.S. made furnishing of a higher value you loose. Many these manufacturers once stood for quality and your furnishings would have become priceless family heirlooms. This foreign made merchandise made with inferior quality materials will only be yard sale fodder in the end.
6. Keep in mind it is your insurance companies responsibility to put you back whole. This means replaced as it was and at its true value. True value also means if your items were the real thing and, would have become an antique, the replacement items should be the same otherwise you have lost your future investment value or family heirloom. Also don't fall for the adjusters line on depreciation, good quality furnishings can increase in value every year.
7. Doors, windows and other building items are also now being farmed out to foreign manufacturers. Many under big corporate brand names we all recognize, names that once stood for American made quality. Copies of the real thing in faux materials will never stand up to the test of time. This is a major area of concern and you could come up short with out realizing it. Keep in mind a lot of chemical processes are used to manufacture furnishing, doors and other building materials to create composition boards, engineered boards, paste boards and veneers that comprise most of these kinds of manufactured goods. Also the jury is not in on how safe these materials made in china really are environmentally or to our health considering the lead paint in toys and furnishings recently discovered. If your home was not originally built with this low quality of merchandise you do not have to settle for it as replacement. See your attorney for details.
8. If you are handling your own claims there are some professionals with impeccable reputations that can be of great help free of charge. If your are replacing vehicles or equipment go to your original dealer and obtain a replacement value statement. Most dealers will be happy to provide this in hopes of getting your business. When it comes to house replacement or other buildings start with a reputable and well known architect. If the original is available this would be first choice if you plan to rebuild the same as before. Also, most builders maintain copies of blueprints which will be helpful in establishing your homes true value and replacement cost to rebuild in todays market. Many architects can also point you the best tried and tested builders and tradesmen. Also, they will be able to provide your insurance company with accurate bids allowing for true replacement value.
When it comes to jewelry and other personal effects always go to the experts. When possible return to the original stores of purchase and make a list to obtain the true replacement value of your items. See your attorney for details.
The hardest thing to find is an American furniture, door, and lighting manufacturer that still makes the real thing. Here we provide a link to one of the oldest and largest manufacturers of truly handmade investment quality furniture, doors, lighting and hardware still made in the USA. This manufacturer will provide free replacement value statements that most insurance companies will accept and can not dispute. They are located in Scottsdale Arizona and will work directly with your insurance adjuster, builder, designer, or yourself to provide your replacement furnishing timed with your reconstruction. Do a Google Blog Search on this info! Or visit here for the latest!
This devastating time in your life is very emotional, however, keep in mind your insurance company realizes this. Not to sound like all insurance companies are out to take advantage of your situation, it is simply the nature of their business. Insurance companies are there to collect premiums and to keep losses to a minimum. The very nature of this system is never in your best interest. Like with your health care you must be pro-active in this process. No one will take care of you like you will. This call will save you thousands of dollars
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