The unthinkable has happened — your office was hit by a hurricane. The bad news is that all your hard work and your livelihood is now badly damaged. The good news is that you have office insurance in place to cover these losses and help you rebuild, especially if you trusted Florida Optometric Insurance Services (FOIS) to make sure you have the correct coverage in place.
Once you record all the damage (video or photos) and call the insurance carrier to report the loss, it’s your duty to prevent any further damage. This means boarding up any doors and windows, cleaning up spills and tarping the roof, if possible. The next thing to expect is an inspection of your claim by the insurance adjuster. Here are some tips on dealing with the adjuster.
1. Be patient. You have the advantage. After a large event, adjusters will deal with multiple claims per day, while you have all your time to focus on your own claim. Get your paperwork in order. Prepare an inventory of everything lost with replacement cost estimates and gather any evidence an adjuster might need. Being prepared and patient will help the process go smoothly.
2. The adjuster works for the insurer, NOT you. The adjuster’s job is to inspect the loss for the insurance company. In the event of a large loss, carriers often hire contracted adjusters to help with the workload. Make sure that you know what your coverage is so that you’re getting everything your policy covers. Remember that FOIS works for YOU.
3. Be there for the adjuster’s inspection. This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s important that you’re there to answer any questions the adjuster might have and point out any additional damage. Request a copy of the report right away.
4. Come up with your number first. Part of being prepared is having an idea of how much money you need to rebuild and how much your policy should pay. Instead of waiting for the insurance carrier to tell you how much you’ll get, come up with an amount they should pay. This often will be the starting claim amount.
5. Don’t settle. Adjusters and insurance carriers may want you to sign something right away or may try to offer you a lower amount to get the claim wrapped up quickly. Don’t sign a settlement contract until you (and/or your lawyers) have fully reviewed it. You can always ask FOIS or the carrier to do a second or third review of the claim.
6. Follow up. The claims process can be long, and adjusters often have multiple claims to inspect. It’s your responsibility to regularly follow up with both the insurer and adjuster to ensure they are on top of your claim.
Remember, FOIS is here to be your advocate and guide for all insurance matters. If you need to file a claim after a storm, do not hesitate to reach out to our experience agents for help and advice.
By Carrie Millar, Director of Insurance Operations