Troublesome adjusters can appear in just about any situation during the claims process. It may be that the person you are dealing with has a brash personality or maybe he/she is just having a “bad day.” Most adjusters that you encounter are upstanding, fair and ethical individuals who have a true concern about your loss with the main objective of restoring your property. But some can create real problems and consume your time, energy and efforts.
You may meet the adjuster who is primarily operating under his or her own agenda. That is, they possess an arrogance about themselves as a result of the position they hold or the personality they have developed. This type of individual will make deliberate attempts to confuse and confound you and may even be trying to thwart the progress of your claim for their own specific reasons. It may be they are overwhelmed by their work load, or just feel that intimidating claimants decreases their efforts in adjusting claims.
Be aware that this type of troublesome adjuster may either show up too early or too late for a scheduled on-site inspection to catch you “off guard.” This tactic is sometimes deployed to make sure your contractor or some other advisor is not in attendance when the adjuster arrives. Do not go forward with the on-site inspection without a contractor or specialist like DePalma Roofing present. You can always reschedule, and rescheduling could keep you from being losing a lot of money.
These troublesome adjusters tend to have overt characteristic traits which may be indicated by the following:
- Intimidating remarks as to the cause and coverage of your loss
- A suspicious attitude of the reason you are filing a loss claim
- Being accusatory toward you – “Didn’t you help create this situation?”
- “Low-balling” the settlement amount
- Delaying the claims process
- Not returning calls or inquiries
- Unethically pressuring you to use his or her contractor to do your repair work
These types of red flags should give you an indication that you are dealing with a troublesome adjuster. Sometimes just by communicating with the adjuster, you may find that he or she may be overworked, frustrated in their position, “climbing the corporate ladder” or operating outside of the insurance company’s service policies.
Even inexperienced adjusters can be categorized as troublesome at times. Sometimes their case workloads exceed their ability to manage such volume of work, or their lack of knowledge translates into an arrogant attitude of defensiveness rather that empathy toward the policyholder.
If problems continue to persist between you and the claims adjuster, start with calling the claims office and ask to speak to the adjuster’s supervisor. In most cases, this is all that will be necessary. Candidly and politely explain to the supervisor your problem. Tell him/her that you have already made a number of calls to the adjuster with no response and that you are perplexed as to why. Further explain that the repairs to your dwelling are being delayed as a result, because the contractor has stated that the repairs to your dwelling cannot commerce or proceed until you and the adjuster work out your differences.
If your call to the supervisor results in the supervisor doing nothing more than supporting the adjusters position, immediately write a letter to the claims manager and send a “cc” copy to the Vice-President of the Insurance Company.
In any situation, be sure to completely document any and all conversations. Have any adjuster who denies coverage put their denial in writing! This is what they are required to do. Also, document the damages thoroughly and keep complete records of everything? You should also take note that if you are faced with a troublesome adjuster this is probably the appropriate time to being to consider going up the chain of command and solicit the assistance of someone at a higher level of management. If necessary, do not hesitate to utilize the chain of command and to inform the upper management of the company of your grievance and ask for their intervention.
Know The Games Some Insurance Adjusters Play
Most insurance representatives that possess an overzealous attitude are simply on a “power trip” and are too difficult to deal with. Your insurance company can normally “weed out” the overzealous adjuster form the mainstream of customer service and eventually reassign the adjuster to another division of claims or even terminate their service.
However, the adjuster that remains on the job can create problems also. The trouble soon appears when your calls go unreturned. The overzealous adjusters are “notoriously” known throughout the industry. Homeowners, contractors, attorneys and even insurance companies have trouble with this type of adjuster.
A large majority of homeowners placing claims for property damage encounter difficult adjusters. Look for the following list of indicators to alert you that it is now time to either request a change in adjuster or go up the chain of command in the claims office to get the response you are entitled to as an insured.
- Non-responsive to telephone calls.
- “Your file is lost.”
- “I never received your mail.”
- “I never received your fax.”
- “Your estimate is miles apart from my evaluation.”
- “I sent you a letter, didn’t you receive it?”
- “My supervisor is on vacation.”
- “I have not been given any authority to settle your claim yet.”
- “I’ll be tied up for the next couple of weeks.”
- “I’ll have to request your file form the home office. It might take some time.”
- Calling you when he/she knows you won’t be at home to justify his/her obligation to remain in contact with you.
Get Good Customer Service
In your dealings with the insurance company, always remember that you have paid the insurance company premiums for them to provide you with claims service. In actuality, you have paid the salary of the insurance company representative who is now avoiding you, and making your experience in claiming your rights a living nightmare.
Let’s put it another way. Suppose you had just purchased a new washer form the local department store. They assured you that their service division would deliver the machine the next day. You wait around all day, no delivery. You call, leave messages, and receive no returned calls.
It has now been two days and your new washer is nowhere in sight. Your blood is boiling, your temper is increasing, and you finally pick up the phone. You call the department store manager and give him an ear full, “I have paid for your merchandise and service. I demand efficient service, and if I don’t get it, I’ll climb your management ladder like a monkey in the zoo!” Whew! Talk about being assertive!
So ask yourself, why don’t you demand service form your insurance company? Why do a large number of homeowners become intimidated by the delaying techniques used by adjusters? Why do some homeowners cower at the mere thought of dealing with the games adjusters play?
Strategies To Deal With Your Insurance Company
You can fight back by using common sense and creative communication. Through the experience of others who have dealt with unethical tactic of adjusters, we offer the following suggestions:
- It cannot be overstated enough. ALL correspondence you send to the adjuster or claims office should be sent via certified mail, return receipt requested. This will prevent the unscrupulous adjuster form denying that they received your correspondence. Your return receipt will also indicate the date of delivery, why may prove important in contradicting an inaccurate statement by the adjuster.
- If the adjuster fails to return calls on a regular basis, drop the adjuster a short note. In that note make certain that you specify on exact day and time in which you can be reached. Send a copy of this note to the claims office manager.
- If the adjuster fails to make scheduled appointments at your home, go to his/her office and demand to talk to the adjuster, the supervisor or manager. Stress the fact that you are now being inconvenienced and this inappropriate conduct on the part of the adjuster.
- Instead of receiving invoices from contractors and sending them to the insurance company to pay off, have the adjuster and insurance company make note of the bank account you want your claim amount deposited into. As a real restate investor, it is important that you maintain a small business bank account for your transactions, rent collection, mortgage payments, and expenses.
- Call the adjuster early in the morning or late in the day. Adjusters often get their assignment in the morning and upgrade their files in the afternoon. One aggressive claimant, who had run out of patience, placed a call from a public telephone across the street from the insurance claims office. When told that the adjuster was out of the office and not accepting calls, the claimant walked across the street and entered the claims office. He found his delinquent adjuster shooting the breeze near the water cooler! Needless to say, the manager’s office was the next stop.