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THE ROLE OF A PUBLIC ADJUSTER

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well-Adjusted – By David Garry

With ownership of property comes great responsibility—and a certain amount of risk. One of the most important aspects of property ownership is ensuring that in the event of loss, damage or accident, your investment is protected. In essence, protecting your investment is protecting yourself.

In an age where hurricanes, deadly fires, and terrorism are part of everyday conversation, knowing your insurance policy and understanding how it works can make the difference between rebuilding your life after a crisis and bankruptcy. One of the resources available to policyholders is the public adjuster—someone with inside knowledge and years of experience in the insurance field who may be able to help weed through the sometimes monumental-seeming task of regrouping, rebuilding, and reinventing after a crisis.

Making the Call

Amid the stress of a fire, flood, or other emergency’s aftermath, the task of making the call to the insurance company can be just another added stress a policyholder faces. The barrage of questions, the specifics—even the language of the policy may prove too much for someone who has just faced a great loss in their life. Lack of understanding and/or not having the presence of mind to recall every detail or every item lost, stolen or destroyed can have a huge impact on whether a policyholder receives a fair and accurate settlement from their insurance company.

That’s where a “Public Insurance Adjuster” may come in handy. While this is a role less familiar to most policyholders than that of the insurance agent or broker, public adjusters have been around nearly as long as the insurance companies themselves. Public adjusters are there to step up in the time of crisis and to act as liaisons between the insurance company and the insured, to advocate for the insured and their claim, and to act as a docent to help the policyholder understand the language in their policy.

Insurance adjusters initially came into vogue about 100 years ago—not only to translate policy language, but to literally translate insurance policies into various languages. Immigrants to the New York metropolitan area who did not speak English well enough to handle their own claims would turn to members of their community to assist in facilitating reimbursements and settling claims. The market for this kind of assistance for all kinds of people quickly became apparent, and the title of public insurance adjuster became more common.

Stepping Up to Bat

Once a public adjuster is involved in a claim—whether it’s when the phone call is made upon the discovery of loss, or when a settlement gets more complicated down the road – they will begin the process of arbitrating and advocating on behalf of their client, the insured.

Obviously, public adjusters feel that the sooner they’re involved, the better. “It’s critical for the insured to get a public adjuster involved as soon as possible,” says Leslie Knox, president of Andrew K. Knox and Company, an adjuster firm located in Toms River. “It is the adjuster’s job to quantify loss and damage—and the sooner we are able to be on-site, the better equipped we are to capture the exact amount of loss and damage.”

As one might imagine, there’s a fine line in the public adjuster/claimant relationship which public adjusters are careful not to cross. “We are not [legal] counsel,” says Knox. “We do provide knowledge, but not in the legal sense as an attorney might.”

Tackling a host of tasks upon his or her arrival to the site, the public insurance adjuster immediately starts gathering the necessary information. Much as an investigating law enforcement official’s job gets harder the longer the evidence has been lying around, the public adjuster’s work can be made exponentially more difficult the longer the claimant waits to enlist his or her services.

Once the initial information is given to an insurance company by the claimant, it may be difficult to amend or add to the list of damages. Tommy Valvano, vice president of ANC Construction & Restoration and a partner with Kramer Smith Torres & Valvano, an insurance adjustment firm in Lyndhurst, agrees that if you’re inclined to use a public adjuster, it’s generally best to get them involved early on in the claim. However he says, “I have had claims where I have gotten involved six months or even a year into the process, and while there may be a lot to undo— generally we can help to rectify the situation.”

Public insurance adjusters know the questions to ask, measurements to take, and avenues for helping the insured—which can include arranging housing for them if there’s been a fire or other disaster.

“[A public adjuster can help] with anything above and beyond the costs the claimant would normally incur,” says Valvano, “such as hotel or rental unit during the restoration process.”

Co-op and community association living has its own set of difficulties. Because this lifestyle always means dealing with multiple homeowners’ policies, it tends to muddy the waters a bit. Board or association policies and master deeds, individual policies, bylaws and public offering statements are all things to consider when navigating a claim.

But regardless of the complexity of a given claim, it really all comes down to the same thing—money. “Most of all, public adjusters can help when an insurance company gives a settlement that isn’t enough,” says Valvano, and uses the common example of a renovated condo unit. After a loss, depending on the language in a given homeowner’s policy, the insurance company may argue that they are only liable for the original specs of the unit—not the upgrade. According to Valvano, “This is not what this type of language was intended for and should not be interpreted as such.”

Getting Along in the Industry

While all adjusters are in the same business and technically do the same thing, a public adjuster works only for the claimant, whereas the insurance adjuster works on behalf of an insurance company. This can at times cause some initial tension between the public adjuster and the larger insurance company.

“Some insurance companies recommend dealing with their agent only,” says Valvano, “but others know that adjusters help in making sure the process is done correctly the first time and recommend them.”

Knox adds, “There is a long-standing prejudice against using public adjusters in the insurance industry because of the fact that once a public adjuster is involved, the insurance company’s sole control over the situation is greatly impacted.”

According to the public adjusters, speaking the language of the industry and flushing out points that might be overlooked by the policyholder alone greatly enhance the chances of the claimant receiving their maximum due. They point out that insurance companies are in business to make money—and with the aid of public adjusters, sometimes they’re forced to pay more to policyholders.

At the end of the day however, getting everyone on the same page is a large part of what the public insurance adjuster is there to do. “We also help to mitigate damage by recommending to the policyholder to board up and secure damaged property—making sure that the areas are tarped to prevent further water damage, and so on” says Valvano, adding that it’s these types of often-overlooked details that end up saving all parties involved money in the long run.

A Matter of Security

So who pays a public adjuster to come in and work their magic on a particularly sticky insurance situation? Obviously, not every insurance claim is going to necessitate a public adjuster, but when the need is there, so is this service. As a rule, public adjusters do not take money out-of-pocket from the claimant—rather, they take a percentage of what is paid out to the policyholder in the final settlement. For that reason, it often behooves the policyholders to utilize a public adjuster for larger-scale claims, rather than for something like a vandalized mailbox or minor storm damage.

And who you choose to represent you to your insurer is nearly as important as the decision to hire a public adjuster in the first place. According to Valvano, “Anyone who negotiates a claim on behalf of an insured must be licensed.” And remember—always ask questions when selecting a public adjuster. “What kind of damages have they worked on? What residences in the area have they assisted? How many settlements are they currently involved in?” These are just a few of the questions that can help reveal an individual or company’s track record in the industry.

Insurance policies exist to ensure a return to normalcy in the event of an emergency. Public insurance adjusters can help make the process expedient and hopefully headache-free.

To learn more call 1-866-450-8520. Here at RHI Claims Specialist, Inc. our experienced public insurance adjusters are ready to assist you with any questions you may have regarding your policy or claim.

PREPARING FOR A STORM

By: Texas.gov

Have a Family Plan

It’s important to plan now to protect your families, business, and property. Discuss evacuation plans with your family, friends and relatives BEFORE hurricane season begins, and review your plans from time to time. Here are some planning tips:
  • Start putting an emergency supply kit together and double check to ensure supplies are fresh.
  • Make a checklist of what you must do before you leave and review it.
  • Make sure you and your family members know how to get in touch with each other. Remember that phone service could be disrupted, so have a back-up plan such as an assigned meeting place, use of pagers, e-mail or other technology that does not depend on phone lines. In case telephones and cell towers are not operational, you may want to make a list of contact information on paper that you normally store in electronic devices.
  • If you plan to stay in a hotel or motel, make reservations and confirm your reservations before you leave.
  • Learn evacuation routes from your area before storm season. Plan for delays and longer drive-times than normal.
  • Call 2-1-1 to find out if you live in an evacuation area or you need transportation during a disaster.
  • Plan what you are going to do with pets and livestock.
  • FEMA for Kids
  • Texas Cooperative Extension: Preparing for the Unexpected
 

Have an Emergency Kit

Having emergency supplies on hand in easy-to-carry containers will serve you well no matter what kind of hazard or emergency you may face. Supplies should include:
  • Non-perishable food
  • Water (one gallon per person per day)
  • Cash (remember that ATMs may be unavailable)
  • First-aid kit
  • Prescription medications and copies of prescriptions
  • Special medical items, such as eyeglasses and hearing aids
  • Toilet paper and other personal hygiene products
  • Photo identification
  • Copies of important documents and records, information to process insurance claims. Maintain in a waterproof container
  • Battery-operated radio, flashlight, batteries, NOAA weather radio
  • Road maps
  • List of phone numbers of family and friends
  • Blankets, pillows, sleeping bags
  • Pet supplies
  • If there is a baby, include formula, diapers, bottles, powdered milk, medications, baby wipes, and diaper rash ointment.
  • If you have access and functional needs or have special healthcare needs, you may require additional items.
 

Prepare Your Home

Steps you can take NOW

Here are some steps you can take to protect your property before a storm hits:
  • Find out the elevation of your property and check floodplain maps.
  • Check your insurance coverage. Most homeowner insurance policies do not cover flood damage. Learn about the National Flood Insurance Program.
  • Find out if your home meets current building code requirements for high winds. Structures that meet current high-wind provisions have a better chance of surviving violent windstorms.
  • Install commercial shutters or prepare 5/8 inch plywood panels for your windows.
  • Garage doors are frequently the first feature in a home to fail. Reinforce garage doors so that they are able to withstand high winds.
  • If you do not live in an evacuation zone or a mobile home, designate an interior room with no windows or external doors as a “safe room”.
  • Assess your property to ensure that landscaping and trees do not become a wind hazard. Trim all dead wood, and weak branches or overhanging branches from all trees. Certain trees and bushes are vulnerable to high winds and any dead tree near a home is a hazard.
  • Consider landscaping materials other than gravel or rocks.
 

Before the storm hits

  • Put up shutters or plywood on windows and openings. Remember that winds are stronger at higher elevations, like high-rises.
  • Move outside items to safety, such as patio furniture, plants and grills.
  • If your home is in a floodplain, move valuables and furniture to a higher level.
  • Put valuable documents in waterproof containers, and take them with you if evacuate.
  • Turn off electricity at the main circuit breaker or fuse box to protect appliances from power surges and reduce the risk of live dangling wires after the storm.
  • If the house is supplied with natural or propane gas, turn it off at the meter or tank.
  • Remove perishable items from your refrigerator and freezer if you evacuate.
  • Make a final walk-through inspection before closing the door.

Prepare Your Vehicle

  • Fill up with gasoline before you leave town. It’s smart to keep your tank full during hurricane season.
  • Check your vehicle’s fluid levels and ensure there is adequate coolant in the radiator.
  • Don’t forget your tires. Check for proper air pressure because hot road surfaces are rough on tires. Be sure that your spare tire has air and that you have the proper equipment to change your tire. Ensure you have a jack and lug wrench in your vehicle and know where they are in the vehicle. Your owner’s manual should have instructions for changing tires and flats.
  • Make sure to carry water and non-perishable food for you and your passengers in case you become stranded.
  • If you are stranded, stay with your vehicles and use emergency flashers. Tie a white cloth on antenna or door handle and raise the hood.
  • Carry a cell phone. You may need assistance. DPS help line is 1-800-525-5555 or * DPS (on certain wireless carriers).
  • Have a working flashlight and extra batteries in your vehicle.
Education
To learn more call 1-866-450-8520. Here at RHI Claims Specialist, Inc. our experienced staff are ready to assist you with any questions you may have regarding your policy or claim. Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter

Got Co-Insurance?

Do you own a business? Do you have a policy with Co-Insurance? I’m sure when you were speaking with your insurance agent you told them you wanted to keep your premiums low right? Any smart business owner would want to  cut costs and that is understandable but many don’t realize the potential for disaster if you actually have to file a claim.

So What is Co-Insurance?

Generally speaking, this sneaky little clause applies to commercial property or business property and requires that you – the business investor or owner – insure the company property up to a certain percent  (typically 80% of the property value) or risk paying a penalty on a claim. Paying such a penalty can be a very disappointing experience because it will usually occur at a time when you really cannot afford it. Accidents and losses are never welcomed experiences – especially in a business environment where time is money and assets are essential to future production.

Consider an example:

If your Co-Insurance clause states 80% then you are required to have proper business insurance coverage up to that percentage limit. If you do not, then the insurance company will not necessarily cover your loss.

Business Property Value: $300,000

Co-Insurance Statement: 80%

Actual Insurance Coverage: $200,000

Since the clause in this example requires eighty percent, then you would need at least $240,000 of coverage or 80% of your actual business or property value. Since you do not have the full coverage required, you stand to pay a penalty in an insurance loss or accident. Because this will surprise most business ownership teams, it’s important to look into your co-insurance contract immediately.

Most small business professionals (and even the self employed) do not know about the power of the Co-Insurance clause. Don’t be left out in the cold when an unexpected event occurs in your business that could negatively affect your livelihood. Having proper insurance coverage is an essential part of your success in the business world and you never know when something is going to happen.

Time to hire a Public Adjuster

Dealing with a claim when you have a co-insurance clause can be quite a hassle especially when you are under insured. The cost of being underpaid due to penalties far outweighs the cost of  utilizing the services  of a Licensed Public Adjuster to represent you. Just like any business, keeping costs down is a must and unfortunately the insurance company is in the business to collect premiums, not pay claims. Knowing when its time to hire a public adjuster is key to being payed what your claim is worth and in making your recovery as painless as possible.

To learn more call 1-866-450-8520. Here at RHI Claims Specialist, Inc. our experienced staff are ready to assist you with any questions you may have regarding your policy or claim.

MAKING THE BEST CHOICE WHEN HIRING A PUBLIC ADJUSTER

– By Amy Bach, co-founder of United Policyholders and Robert Crown UP Volunteer and licensed PA.

QUESTIONS TO ASK AND THINGS TO KNOW

Background and Perspective

If your home or business property is damaged or destroyed and you file an insurance
claim, be prepared to spend time and energy on the claim process. Listing and describing
everything you lost and how much it will cost to repair/replace each item takes more
effort than most people realize. That’s called “documenting a claim.” But it must be done
or you won’t get paid the insurance dollars you’re entitled to. And, once that’s done, you
must negotiate with your insurance company or you are likely to get paid less than you
are owed.

There are professionals you can hire to represent you in documenting and negotiating
your insurance claim. They are known in most states as “public adjusters”. Public
adjusters work only for policyholders, not insurers. There are two other types of
adjusters: Company, or “staff” adjusters who are employed by your insurance company,
and so-called “independent” adjusters who work only for insurance companies on a
contract hiring basis. Company/staff and independent adjusters are hired and paid by and
report only to insurance companies, not policyholders. They will be assigned by your
insurance company to work on your claim, but they are there as the insurance company’s
representative… not yours.

Your insurance company may assign one or many different adjusters to your claim over
the course of time. Each one may have a different approach and level of experience. One
may have very little experience and be difficult to communicate with, another may be
very friendly and have a lot of experience. Many people report to United Policyholders
that their first adjuster offered them a settlement sum, then left the company or was reassigned
and when a new adjuster came on, that new adjuster rescinded the offer or made
them start from scratch on the claim. We refer to that problem as “rotating adjusters.”

United Policyholders helped pass a law in California to protect consumers from being
victimized by rotating adjusters. (California Insurance Code section 2071)

When you file a claim, you may be fine on your own, or you may do better by hiring help
– it’s an individual decision you should make based on your own circumstances. A
licensed Public Adjuster can be your representative and advocate in the process of getting
your claim “adjusted” (processed) and “settled”, (paid). As with any professional, some
Public Adjusters are better than others. The last thing you need when you’ve suffered a
major loss is extra problems, so screen carefully before you hire. Resist high-pressure
sales pitches and don’t hire prematurely. The claim process involves leg work, paper
work, basic math, insurance lingo, and negotiation.

If you’re undecided on whether or not you need a public adjuster, visit the “Claim Tips”
section of our website at www.unitedpolicyholders.org .Click on “Hiring Professional
Help”. Start by reading the article titled; “Hiring a Public Adjuster – The Inside Scoop”.
If you’re leaning toward hiring professional help, this tip sheet will help you hire the
right help.

Claim adjusting is art, not science

Most people who file a claim rely completely on their insurance company to calculate the
amount of damage and what they’re owed. That’s not the way to go if you want to be
paid all you’re owed. The way to get paid all you’re owed is to do your own calculations
and research, provide complete documentation to your insurer, make a written demand
for payment and keep following up until you get paid. Particularly when it comes to a
large loss – you may need help from professionals to do the research and calculations

The insurance company sends out their own staff adjuster or “independent” adjuster, and
their handpicked contractor, whose job it is to identify the scope of work and to estimate
the costs to repair or rebuild your home. They measure the loss for the insurance
company, not for you. This matters because big dollars are at stake and your financial
goals and the insurers’ financial goals are not the same.

It is hard for you, the insured, to know whether you are getting all that is owed under
your insurance policy. Your policy may actually give you extended coverage beyond the
stated dollar limits on the policy. A qualified advocate on your side can be your voice in
the process and give you more input and negotiating leverage as to what you recover.

Documenting a catastrophic property loss is time-consuming and burdensome to even the
most sophisticated insured. Instead of relying on the insurance company to decide how
much you get to rebuild your home, hiring a good Public Adjuster can help you receive
the best possible settlement. Read United Policyholders’ Basic Tips, check your coverage
limitations and policy endorsements, (extras), and make sure to bring a copy of your
policy and review it with the Public Adjuster you are considering hiring before you
actually hire them.

Questions to Ask and Things You Should Know Before Hiring a Public Adjuster

1. Be sure you are hiring a licensed Public Adjuster. Ask to see their individual
Public Adjusters license for your state.(Some Public Adjusters work under the
license of another individual or firm, rather than becoming qualified and
credentialed individually.)

2. Are you interviewing the individual(s) who will actually be adjusting the loss?
Or is the person simply a sales rep, who will hand off your claim?

3. Is the company signing up too large a volume of business to give you the best level of
care and attention? Your claim will be delayed if your public adjuster
is handling too many claims.

4. What skills, credentials and experience do they bring to the table? How many years
have they been licensed as a Public Adjuster, and how long have they been practicing
in your state?

5. Ask the Public Adjuster you are interviewing to give you a list of references
for claims he or she has personally handled in the past 3 years. (Some adjusters move
around among companies and have short-lived associations with the firm they
currently represent.)

6. If the firm is located out of the area, how do they plan to service your claim? Make
sure you are clear on what you can expect from them over the long haul.

7. Is the adjuster handing the claim the right personality fit for you? You must
be confident and comfortable with their communications skills and level of personal
commitment.

8. Before hiring a Public Adjuster, call and check at least three of their references. Ask
if the person you’re interviewing actually worked on their claim. Did the client feel
confident their Public Adjuster got the best possible result? Did their representative
answer all their questions throughout the adjustment and rebuilding process? Was the
Public Adjuster able to identify how much added value they brought to the final
settlement figures? Did the Public Adjuster assist with the additional living expense
and fair rental value portion of their claim? (Some Public Adjusters will waive their
fee on this portion of the claim.)

9. Don’t be rushed into making a decision before you are ready to. You have time to
make the right decision for you! Ask all the questions you need to ask so that you feel
confident in your selection of Public Adjusters. They will be part of your insurance
recovery process for as long as it takes to settle the claim and recover all the financial
benefits you are entitled to under the terms and conditions of your policy and the laws
in your state.

10. Most Public Adjusters work on contingency fees that range from 5% to 15% of the
monies the insurer pays on your claim.1 These fees are capped in some states and
negotiable in all states. The fee you agree to pay a Public Adjuster should take into
account the size and type of your loss and the status of your claim. Make sure you
agree up front on whether or not the Public Adjuster will get a percentage of monies
the insurer has already agreed in writing to pay but has not actually paid yet.

1 In some states Public Adjusters cannot charge contingent fees unless they are associated with an attorney
because it is considered the unauthorized practice of law. Many of the Gulf Coast states changed their laws
after the 2005 hurricane seasons to allow public adjusters to do business in their states.

11. If you get into a dispute with your public adjuster, do your best to resolve it
informally with them and with help from their trade association in your state. If there
is no Public Adjuster trade association in your state, contact the National Association
of Public Insurance Adjusters, (NAPIA) and seek their help resolving the dispute. If
that doesn’t help, file a complaint with your state regulator. Public adjusters are
regulated by state insurance regulators.

Resources:

National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA): www.napia.com, 1(703) 433-9217.

National trade association of public insurance adjusters. Membership is voluntary and does not affect
license status. 21165 Whitfield Place, #105 – Potomac Falls, VA. 20165. Tel (703) 433-9217 Fax (703)
433-0369.

National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC): www.naic.org All state insurance regulators
belong to this association. You can get contact and website information for every state insurance
department through the NAIC.

______________________________________________

These tips are intended for educational purposes only. No legal advice should be inferred from these materials.

To learn more call 1-866-450-8520. Here at RHI Claims Specialist, Inc. our experienced staff are ready to assist you with any questions you may have regarding your policy or claim.

Hurricane Preparedness Needs To Be A Priority

By PHIL BEDIENT and JIM BLACKBURN
RICE UNIVERSITY

May 31, 2011, 10:33PM

From the depths of Houston’s worst drought in more than 50 years it may be difficult to recall how soggy Houston was 10 years ago this month.

On June 8-9, 2001, Tropical Storm Allison dumped up to 26 inches of rain on parts the city. The storm claimed 22 lives in the Houston area and caused $5 billion in damages. Though we’d all like just a little of that rain right now, Houstonians would do well to remember the lessons that Allison-and her bigger, younger brother Hurricane Ike-taught us at such great expense.

Ike’s damage in 2008 was estimated at $30 billion, and if Ike had made landfall 50 miles farther south, it would have been far worse; Ike’s storm surge was sufficient to inundate the west side of Galveston Bay as far inland as Interstate 45 and as far north as the Houston Ship Channel. Had that scenario played out, Ike could easily have caused a catastrophic loss of life in the Clear Lake area, far more extensive property damage and an environmental nightmare. Complacency toward the threat from severe storms like Allison and Ike is not an option for Houston.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to preparing Houston and Galveston for severe storms. However, the Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disasters (SSPEED) Center is working to transform our abilities to plan and react to these threats. We have made great strides in improving storm surge predictions and in better evaluating our infrastructure and evacuation plans. We have also begun to look at future scenarios that combine structural improvements like new levees and floodgates with nonstructural strategies for improving how and where we build. Ultimately, we want the Houston/Galveston region to serve as the model for severe-storm preparedness for coastal communities everywhere.

With the current budget cuts, we cannot depend upon the federal government to come to our rescue with bags of money. Instead, we need to take a careful look at the costs and benefits of achieving community protection through innovation. In this regard, the SSPEED Center is evaluating a range of alternative approaches to addressing hurricane risks.

The SSPEED Center is working to develop an extensive flood alert system for the Clear Lake area that will be similar to the one SSPEED developed for the Texas Medical Center (TMC). Using hydrologic technology, we have shown that we can predict the threat of out-of-bank flooding of Brays Bayou in the Medical Center. We proved it during Allison, giving enough warning to TMC hospitals that not a single life was lost in the Medical Center despite widespread flooding. When applied in the Clear Lake area, this technology will help guide both the evacuation and the re-entry processes during and after severe floods.

The SSPEED Center is also evaluating whether a levee and floodgate structure at the Fred Hartman Bridge can protect the Houston Ship Channel from a 20- to 25-foot storm surge. Based on early investigations, it appears that the price tag for such a project can be justified because of the catastrophic economic and environmental consequences that would result if a storm were to inundate a significant portion of the nation’s petrochemical refining industry.

The center is also proposing a levee system to better protect the city of Galveston from bayside flooding. In the lower-lying areas of Galveston Bay, we are exploring ways to re-invent the coastal economy by focusing on the natural resources of this area, such as bird watching and kayaking. It may well be possible to create a healthy, sustainable economy in this area that is largely immune to storm surge and that also provides a natural biological reserve to compensate for potential future damage from offshore drilling.

The SSPEED Center is grateful to Houston Endowment for providing $3.2 million in funding over the next few years to study these innovative solutions. The Center hopes that its work will contribute to making our coastal economy resilient and our homes safer.

The reality today is that we must be both diligent and prudent. To protect ourselves from the next Allison or Ike, we are going to have to solve our own problems the hard way – by rolling up our sleeves, being honest about hard truths and working together.

Bedient is director of the SSPEED Center (http://sspeed.rice.edu) and the Herman Brown Professor of Engineering at Rice University. Blackburn is co-principal investigator of the SSPEED Center hurricane research and a professor in the practice of environmental law in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Rice University.

Click for a PDF copy of a  “Hurricane Preparedness Guide”. To learn more about how a Public Adjuster can help you with an insurance loss call 1-866-450-8520. Here at RHI Claims Specialist, Inc. our experienced staff are ready to assist you with any questions you may have regarding your policy or claim.

“2011 Hurricane Forecast”

Forecasters: 2011 Tropical Storm Season Busy, But Slower Than 2010

By Eric Gilkey

May 16, 2011

Another weather forecasting team is predicting an active hurricane season for 2011, calling for an above-average number of storms to form in the Atlantic Hurricane Basin.

Earth Networks’ WeatherBug meteorology team foresees a lower number of expected hurricanes in comparison to 2010, but its numbers are still trending above what is considered to be a normal tropical storm season.

Specifically, Earth Networks expects a total of 13-14 named storms to form, with 7-8 becoming hurricanes. Of those, it expects four will become strong enough to be classified as “intense” storms-Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

An average tropical storm season is 10 named storms, six hurricanes, and 3 intense hurricanes.

“While water temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean are warmer than average in key tropical cyclone development areas, they are not as warm as last year,” says Earth Networks Chief Meteorologist Mark Hoekzema. “La Niña conditions, which usually favor the formation of tropical storms, are forecasted to weaken throughout the summer. Neutral conditions are expected during the prime hurricane months from August through October.”

The above-average forecast stems partly from the fact that recent historical patterns show a string of 12 active hurricane seasons. Additionally, previous years with similar climate conditions have been more active than average, the company says. It said similarities to this year’s predicted weather to 2008 and 1996 point toward an increased potential for a land-falling hurricane to impact the U.S. this year.

So far this year, other forecasters have offered up similar predictions.

The Colorado State University forecasters’ estimate released on April 6 calls for 16 named storms, nine hurricanes, and five intense hurricanes.

Weather Services International’s (WSI) tropical storm forecast released on April 27 predicts 15 named storms, eight hurricanes, and four intense hurricanes.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will release its figures this week, May 19, at a press conference at the NOAA Satellite Operations Facility – the epicenter of all satellite data used in developing weather and climate forecasts, including hurricanes.

As has been the case in recent past, an above-average forecast does not necessarily mean there is a greater likelihood of a hurricane landfall in the U.S. Last year’s hurricane season was much above normal, but no hurricanes made landfall in the U.S.

To learn more call 1-866-450-8520. Here at RHI Claims Specialist, Inc. our experienced staff are ready to assist you with any questions you may have regarding your policy or claim.

“Script Review” We are adding a virtual spokesman to our new website!

We are adding a virtual spokesman to our new website and I would love to hear your feedback so we can finalize our script. Our founder Tom Ross will be the spokesman and we are all excited to see it when he  is finished in the studio.  Its going to be about a minute long maybe a little shorter but our goal is to get your attention and briefly explain to you  what we can do to help you if you ever suffer a loss to your home or business. This is the script below.

Tom Ross

Welcome.

My name is Tom Ross , president and founder of RHI Claims Specialist.

Everyday somewhere across the country someone suffers a devastating loss to their home or business. Even though we all think it won’t happen to us, the fact is, it does and most people are unprepared to deal with an insurance claim.

Throughout the years, I recognized the need to assist policyholders, like yourself, through the claims process.

To do this, I put together the most experienced and qualified team of licensed public adjusters and claims professionals in the industry today. Our goal is to help you secure a more favorable and timely resolution of your claim.

Whether it be fire, flood, windstorm, earthquake, or other insured perils, we represent you, not the insurance company, and work on your behalf to protect your interest.

So take a moment.

Browse our website and feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have.

Just remember, we’re always there when you need us most.

Please let us know what you think by leaving a comment on our Facebook page http://facebook.com/rhiclaims or here on our website http://rhiclaimsspecialist.com/contact.php

To learn more call 1-866-450-8520. Here at RHI Claims Specialist, Inc. our experienced staff are ready to assist you with any questions you may have regarding your policy or claim.

5 Steps to take before an insurance loss

Unfortunately somewhere across the country homes and businesses are suffering an insurance loss and even though we all think it won’t happen to us, the fact is, it does. Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to minimize the amount of loss or extent of damage, and to make filing and processing your claim a little less problematic.

1. Keep a household inventory checklist. Here is a printable version for your convenience http://www.tdi.state.tx.us/pubs/consumer/cb086.pdf. In addition to a written inventory and a video or photographic record, it might be helpful to engrave your larger possessions, (such as televisions, DVD players, stereos, computers) with an identifying mark. Engraving can prove to be extremely important if any of your possessions are stolen and eventually recovered by the police. You should also record the serial numbers of any electronic or computer equipment. Keep a copy of your insurance policy along with your checklist and photos/video somewhere safe, for example, a safe deposit box or in your email archives so you can access them at any time.

2. Smoke Alarms! Smoke Alarms! When properly installed and maintained, they can provide an early warning of a fire. This simple precaution could minimize the property damage caused by a fire and, more importantly, save lives! Businesses and even some homes now have sprinkler systems, which can also minimize fire damage. Fire extinguishers, strategically placed in your home or business, can also help keep a small fire from becoming a much larger one.

3. Inspect the locks on your front door or any other door that gives access to your home or business. The installation of dead bolt locks will make entrance into your home more difficult. Basement windows, first-floor windows, or any window opening onto a fire escape should be equipped with a window lock. Also consider having an electronic security system installed.

4. We all know coastal area residents have experienced major property damage from severe weather storms in recent years. If you live in or near these areas you might want to consider installing hurricane/storm shutters and/or hurricane resistant laminated glass windows and doors. In fact insurance companies are required by law to offer discounts to any homeowner who has installed hurricane/storm shutters or hurricane resistant laminated glass windows and doors. Check with your agent, broker or insurance company sales representative about whether you can take advantage of such a discount.

5. If you live in a flood zone or think you might be at risk for flooding you might want to consider a flood insurance policy. Most homeowners don’t realize that the typical homeowners insurance policy DOES NOT COVER FLOOD. You need a completely separate policy to protect your home or business. For more information about flood insurance visit http://floodsmart.gov

To learn more call 1-866-450-8520. Here at RHI Claims Specialist, Inc. our experienced staff are ready to assist you with any questions you may have regarding your policy or claim.

“An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure”

While meeting with an individual or business owner that recently suffered an insurance loss, many public adjusters are often responded to with the same response….”Let me see what my insurance company offers me first, and if I don’t like it I’ll call you”.

This is a person that is not taking full advantage of all the services a licensed public adjuster has to offer. While it is true that a public adjuster can help salvage an insurance claim gone wrong, you would be wise to remember your grandmothers advice “an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure”.

By engaging a public adjuster IMEADIATLY after suffering an insurance loss, we have found that a proactive approach of “Leading The Way” throughout your insurance claim helps to prevent problems in the claims process BEFORE they arise. As a policy holder, the terms of your policy dictate that it is YOUR responsibility to report your claim, document your loss, prepare any requested inventories, and keep track of all relevant expenses.

"We're always there when you need us most"

RHI Claims Specialist, Inc. will do all of this for you and more! We deal with insurance losses every day,  helping individuals and businesses receive a more favorable adjustment, while removing the burden of the complicated claims process.

To learn more call 1-866-450-8520. Here at RHI Claims Specialist, Inc. our experienced staff are ready to assist you with any questions you may have regarding your policy or claim.

Cyber Theft Insurance Claims! Really?

How many of you have received that oh so tempting unknown email just begging you to open it? Ok I know I have and God knows I’ve probably had my fair share of information stolen but Cyber Theft Insurance Claims? Really?

Absolutely!

A new world of insurance claims is on the horizon, according to the 2009 report from the Internet Crime Complaint Center. An estimated $294.6 million was lost due to cyber crimes involving the infamous email fraud, theft of trade secrets, computer hacking, and extortion.

Since the advent of this report cyber theft has grown in just three years to an annual $400 million a year criminal business. All of which created a market for the insurance companies to provide insurance policies covering businesses who use email, have networked PCs, a website, or private customer data in their systems. Use of spy ware, fire walls, virus protection, anti-spam systems, and prudent procedures to protect passwords are not fool proof to a determined hacker or a disgruntled employee.

Realizing the severity of this form of criminal behavior and the fact that large company losses can have a detrimental effect on our economy and infrastructure. Congress enacted the “Identity Theft and Restoration Act” on May 16, 2008, which provided criminal penalties related to this form of activity and further defined the aspects of cyber theft to include new crimes, forfeiture and restitution clauses and although are severe they have not served as a deterrent to the criminal mind.

When protection systems fail, cyber insurance kicks in triggering coverage for costs related to cleaning up after a worm or hacker attack, and restoring infected files, as well as business income loss during the period of restoration. Hiring an Accredited Licensed Public Adjuster is highly recommended as insurance claims of this nature become even more complicated when theft of non tangible products are involved causing business losses being calculated by minutes and hours. Handling a claim like this on your own can not only be confusing and time consuming but also can cost you thousands or even millions if you don’t have the knowledge and understanding of the many different provisions and stipulations in your policy.

In future articles I will discuss the types of coverage available from such companies as AIG’s netAdvantage Policy, CHUBBS SafetyNet and CyberSecurity Policy and INSUREtrust Atlanta, all in an effort to raise the level of awareness for the policy holder.

To learn more call 1-866-450-8520. Here at RHI Claims Specialist, Inc. our experienced staff are ready to assist you with any questions you may have regarding your policy or claim.

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