After a natural disaster strikes, insurance companies often change their coverage on policies. What was once covered may be no longer. It behooves you to review your policies with your insurance agent to make sure you have adequate coverage. And, policy changes made within 30 days of a natural disaster will often not be covered.Read More
Getting a quick start on your insurance claim avoids costly delays in the restoration and claim process. Most importantly, each state has a statute of limitations on claims, meaning that a claim must be completed within a specific time frame for the homeowner or business owner to receive compensation on depreciation. This can be a significant amount of money, depending on the age and original condition of your property. The sooner we get involved in your claim, the higher the likelihood that you will be able to recover all the monies you’re entitled to within that time frame.Read More
A key element of most insurance claims is the building estimate. With new 3-D technology, Professional Loss Adjusters, Inc. is now able to provide incredibly detailed three-dimensional walk-throughs where appropriate.
This cloud-based technology allows our team members to measure objects scanned with a 3-D camera and to create a 3-D model of a real-world space. This space can be navigated using a desktop, laptop, mobile web browser (tablet or phone) or by using VR technology.
PLA’s in-house estimator, Anthony Salvi, takes about 45 minutes to walk through a 2,000-square-foot property to create a 3-D set of photos of the entire property. A link to the cloud-based file can then be shared with anyone involved in the claim, including clients, outside experts and insurance adjusters.
Salvi says this technology is faster, more detailed and takes about half the time required to create an estimate using other means.
“This 3-D photography reduces the amount of time spent in the building,” says Salvi, “and is more convenient for the property owners.”
Michael Salvi, one of PLA’s most senior Public Adjusters agrees. “The proof of damage is undeniable. It’s irrefutable evidence. You can’t deny it because the resolution is so clear, it’s like physically being in the room.”
In addition, the camera timestamps all images, so there is no question about where the property’s damage falls in the timeline. These advancements in public adjusting technology allow us to better serve our clients—getting them the insurance settlement they deserve.
This is Part 1 of our Meet the Public Adjuster series, featuring members of the Professional Loss Adjusters team. We hope you enjoy getting to know our Adjusters. We feel lucky to have team members who care deeply about the well-being of our clients.
How did you get into the industry?
I was an Insurance Agent from 1983-85. I then worked as a claims adjuster for two different insurance companies from 1985-2001
How long have you been a Public Adjuster?
I became licensed in the late 90s, but didn’t start practicing until 2001.
What made you want to become a Public Adjuster?
The company I was working for underwent a reorganization and the adjusters were given severance packages or were shifted to other claims offices throughout the United States. I didn’t want to leave Massachusetts, so I decided to become a Public Adjuster and try that side of the business.
You’ve been in this business for a while now. How have you seen it change over time?
The industry has changed some, but it’s the language in the policies that have undergone the biggest changes. That is what’s made it more difficult to get paid for damages one would think would be automatically covered.
What emerging trends do you see in the industry?
Insurance companies are leaning more on professional engineers and attorneys to help determine coverage and settle claims rather than training their adjusters to do the same exact thing. The end result is a delay in settlement and increased costs in processing claims, which in turn results in higher premiums for all of us.
Also, the use of, and changes in, technology have had a tremendous effect on the business. The advent of laptops, cell phones, tablets, estimating programs, and tools to determine the extent of damage such as how wet a particular wall may actually be, or what’s inside a wall cavity have changed the way we do business. Currently, there is a push for live video chatting where homeowners walk through their homes with their cellphones or laptops in a video chat with the insurance adjuster who writes an estimate based on what is seen in the video. We are using 3-D virtual tour technology to substantiate damage in homes and businesses [read more about that here]. It is an interesting concept on how to inspect, and ultimately settle, smaller claims more quickly.
What would you like to see happen in the industry?
I would like to see more education given to insurance company adjusters. I believe that they should also be held accountable in Massachusetts by being licensed, tested, and having to stay educated with the changing times. Currently, Massachusetts does not require adjusters to be licensed if they work for an insurance company. Public Adjusters, who work for the general public in Massachusetts, are required to be licensed and must maintain a level of continuing education. I would also like to go back to the days when insurance companies were confident in their training of adjusters and gave them the tools and authority to settle claims.
The process today is bogged down with multi-layered tiers of signature authority to get a claim approved and paid. If insurance companies train their people well, they can eliminate the multiple tiers and get settlements out the door and into the hands of their customers quickly. Adjusters must also be sympathetic toward the multitude of issues that envelope a family when a catastrophe strikes. A house is just a house to the adjuster; to the insured that house is their home. Technology and robotic personalities cannot, and should not, replace empathy.
What value do you think you bring to the adjusting process?
I create a level playing field for my clients. A 125 pound person will not experience balance on a seesaw with a 250 pound person. They will stay up in the air, flailing about, while the heavier person is on the ground, controlling everything. But when you add the weight of a Public Adjuster, that dynamic changes, providing much-needed support to the insured.
What do you like most about adjusting?
I like to see at the end of the day, my client and the insurance company’s client receive what is needed to fix their home or property. The balance brought to the table by hiring your own private adjuster gives a policyholder much-needed peace of mind.
Insurance companies are under tremendous pressure to respond to a claim as soon as possible. However, they have reduced the number of their property adjusters in recent years, and when a major calamity occurs such as Hurricane Florence, they have to bring in adjusters from out-of-state to write an estimate for the cost of the repairs.
The technical term for these adjusters is “Cat Adjusters,” which is short for “Catastrophe Adjusters.” These Cat Adjusters wait for a widespread disaster to hit, such as hurricanes. They then work very hard for a few months and then move on to the next disaster, wherever it may be.Read More
You have just suffered an emotionally upsetting loss to your home or business. You now face the task of preparing and submitting a complicated claim to your insurance company—a task required by your policy. For most, the preparation of a property damage insurance claim is unfamiliar and rough terrain: depreciation, exclusions, replacement cost, actual cash value...At times, the list seems endless, but it is your responsibility to prepare and prove your claim to the insurance company.Read More
So, you have an insurance claim. I can never stress enough how important it is to contact a public adjuster as soon as you can to assist you with your insurance claim and to help you navigate the complicated process of recovering from a disaster. But, the timing doesn't always happen that way. So, the following rules will help you in the hours and days immediately following your loss and will help you determine these four things…Read More
Many homeowners have had trees and branches come down from last week’s Nor'easter that hit Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and much of the Mid-Atlantic coast. For most of us with homeowner's policies, there may be coverage to help pay for the removal of fallen trees. But, the devil is in the details.
Not all policies are alike, so my first piece of advice is to read through your policy to see how coverage is applied to fallen trees. Most policies have a section just a couple of pages into the policy that is titled “Additional Coverages.” Here you may find if your policy contains coverage for tree removal.Read More
West Valley Shopping Center on River Street in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, was home to Alexander Academy, a thriving cosmetology and barber school.
On the night of March 4, 2015, a four-alarm fire destroyed the entire shopping center, resulting in a total loss for not only the school’s owner, Phyllis Gertsios, but her mother, who owned the plaza. Gertsios quickly discovered that her insurance policy would only cover a small percentage of the school’s contents, which totaled more than $300,000.
But that’s not all.Read More
By now, we are all well aware of the unprecedented damage that has been caused by Hurricane Harvey in the Houston, Texas area. And, now there is news of another impending disaster. Hurricane Irma is heading for the U.S., and is a very large Category 5 storm with the potential to wipe whole cities off the map.
With this in mind, I would like to provide some guidance with respect to dealing with damages caused by a disaster of this magnitude. Here is a list of some of the things you should do, along with some advice on how to deal with losses to your property and contents.Read More
So often we’re brought into insurance claims that could have been avoided if the property owner knew what to look for before the damage occurred. As a licensed Public Adjuster, I see this all the time. In addition to being a Public Adjuster, I am also a certified Water Remediation Specialist. Below, I offer you—the property owner—seven steps to help you avoid a water damage loss to your property and possessions.Read More
You’ve had a loss to your property. You want the damage fixed as soon as possible and you expect it to be restored to its original condition, using similar materials. After all, you’ve paid your insurance premiums on time and you have a great relationship with your insurance agent. This should be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, some insurance policy endorsements can make this process more difficult, including an endorsement known as “Functional Replacement.”Read More
After several extraordinary winters of snow and ice, there have been tens of thousands of homes and other buildings that have suffered damage from ice dams and subsequent water damage. Here are four things you should do to deal with this situation.Read More
Many insurance companies have changed their procedures regarding Personal Property (contents) claims in homes and condos. The objective, in part, is to save money to offset losses due to the downturn in the economy. Years ago, it was customary for us to prepare a list of damaged items with prices for the adjuster to review. Now, inventory services have come into existence to do the work directly on behalf of the insurance companies. This follows the trend in insurance claim departments to control the claim at the management level instead of trusting and relying on their own field adjusters.
On the surface, this seems like a good idea. After all, why not hire an inventory specialist who will do the dirty work of itemizing personal property? Presumably, this person will save the insurance company money by working at a lower hourly rate than an adjuster. However, the actual results are not beneficial to the policyholder for a number of reasons.Read More
Leonard Theran, President of New England’s oldest and largest public adjusting firm (representing property owners who have insurance claims) is urging insurance companies to address lingering issues that are a result of the winter of 2015’s record snow and ice event. The winter of 2015 entered the record books as one of the most severe winters in the Northeast, with more than $2.4 billion in insurance claims filed as a result of the unprecedented 110+ inches of snowfall to the region. Ice dams accounted for the majority of the losses.Read More