Who's Who in a Property Loss Claim?
Ask anyone who has ever had to file a claim for property damage how simple filing the claim is and you are bound to get a variety of answers. Many will tell you that it becomes confusing at times. Understanding the insurance policy is daunting in and of itself, but the different people you work with along the way can also be confusing. Knowing who’s who and their role in assisting you can make the claim experience a little easier.
- The Insurance Agent - This is who sold you your policy. Often times they are the first point of contact for anyone filing a claim unless you call a 1-800 number directly. Agents have no role in determining coverage or how claims are handled, but they can often be an asset if you are having trouble with any part of the process. Adjusters and contractors will often take their comments with great interest so be sure to reach out to them if you feel you are not getting satisfaction.
- The Insurance Company - This is who is managing the risk in the form of the insurance policy and who your contract of insurance is with. The insurance company will work with the adjuster if necessary to interpret the terms of the policy and expectations. Customers very seldom deal directly with the insurance company.
- The Insurance Adjuster - This is who interprets the insurance policy and determines coverage and costs. There are a variety of adjusters that may handle a claim. Some insurance companies employ their own adjusters while others hire independent adjusters. You will work closest with the adjuster in satisfying your claim. Be aware that the adjuster is not the one setting the rules; it is your policy. Your policy, like any document, is subject to interpretation so not everyone will read it the same way. If you feel that you are not being made whole in the way your policy outlines, you have the right to challenge the decisions of the adjuster in a variety of ways. That said, most insurance adjusters have your best interests in mind.
- The Insurance Contractor - This is who executes the necessary services to repair your losses in accordance with the insurance policy as agreed upon by you and the adjuster. Insurance agents, companies and adjusters may provide you with a list of recommended contractors that they prefer to work with and feel you will as well. However, you have the final say in who you want to work with no matter what anyone else says. It is important that you are one hundred percent comfortable with a contractor who will be in your home or business and you feel will best meet your expectations.
Your most powerful tool in an insurance loss is your insurance policy. The more you understand it, the better you will be able to communicate with those servicing or assisting you with your claim. Respect the nature and constraints of the roles that everyone plays in servicing your claim. Do avoid, when possible, asking them to step outside of their role unless you deem it absolutely necessary. Communication and clearly defined roles will make all the difference in the ease of handling your claim.