Massachusetts Public Adjuster Urges Insurance Companies to Extend the Statute of Limitations on Ice Dam Claims
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.
“It is hard to imagine, but we are still getting calls for help with claims for water damage caused by the ice dams from the winter of 2015. Nearly two years later, many homeowners are just now getting bids from contractors to repair damages. These homeowners are learning that the settlement they received from their insurance company is not nearly enough to cover the cost of repairs,” noted Theran.
“Unfortunately, low estimates from insurance companies were not unusual,” says Theran. Massachusetts and neighboring states suffered many more claims than local insurance company adjusters could handle. As a result, insurance companies were forced to bring in adjusters from other states, who were also overwhelmed by the sheer volume of claims. “Too often they put together simple, low-priced estimates with the expectation that homeowners and their insurance companies would work it out later. Even this became cumbersome, as so many estimates had to be rewritten.
With less than six months to go before the Statute of Limitations runs out on the vast majority of claims, many homeowners are either still in the process of having repairs done to their property, or are in the phase of the claim where they are going back to the insurance company for the amount held back for depreciation. Theran believes there is a simple solution to the problem:
• Insurance companies need to notify their clients that they can file a supplemental claim if they have not received enough funds to do the job properly.
• Homeowners should be encouraged to have quality remediation companies remove wet and damaged wall, ceiling and flooring material to make sure that the entire extent of the damage is uncovered.
• The Massachusetts and other Divisions of Insurance together with Insurance companies should agree to extend the two-year Statute of Limitations (from the date of the loss) allowing homeowners an additional year to negotiate the claim and complete the necessary repairs.
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