Category: Blog

State Farm Faces Criminal Investigation Over Hurricane Claims

By MARK GREENBLATT (@greenblattmark)
Sept. 7, 2012

State Farm Insurance, the nation’s largest home insurer, faces a new criminal investigation in Texas related to how it handled potentially tens of thousands of hurricane claims there, ABC News has learned exclusively.

Gregg Cox, who leads the public integrity unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s office in Austin, confirmed to ABC News his investigators recently launched the probe after reviewing newly released communications from top State Farm managers in Texas. Some of the same communications have led to lawsuits by customers who say they were defrauded by State Farm Lloyds, the Texas subsidiary of the larger insurance company.

The documents in question relate to an alleged cover-up by State Farm management related to its denial of consumer insurance claims for a common type of roof damage that occurs during high wind events and hurricanes.

Jim Warner, a longtime homeowner in Missouri City, Texas, had been a customer of State Farm Insurance for more than 20 years before finding himself in the center of the now brewing criminal investigation. He says he had never filed an insurance claim until Hurricane Ike in 2008 and had always paid his monthly bills to State Farm on time.

However, Warner filed suit against State Farm after he says the company did not follow through on its slogan that promises, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.” Warner always believed his policy would cover all types of damage to his roof, but when he went to file a claim he says he was shocked to learn that was not the case.

However, when the “catastrophe section manager” for State Farm saw that statement written out, he directed it be removed from what state regulators would be told, instructing, “This letter needs to be revised to delete the reference to unseal tab.”

The reference was subsequently removed, and that same catastrophe manager then forwarded the newly revised letter to other unnamed colleagues at State Farm “for your review” before it was sent off to the state.

Attorney Mostyn says State Farm fought hard to keep from having to disclose those and other documents, but lost the fight. He says other documents show the insurer attempting to delete other references to the company’s policy of not paying lifted-shingles claims.

Warner’s lawsuit alleges that nearly 100,000 people may have had their claims for similar problems wrongly denied, estimating that many additional consumers who did not hire independent investigators to inspect their roofs may be unaware they are actually damaged today and susceptible to problems in future windstorms.

Longtime Texas state Sen. Rodney Ellis reviewed many of the documents and communications.

“The documents are troubling, and very scary,” Ellis said. “They tell a story that indicates there is a serious problem. I think law enforcement ought to step in and people ought to be held accountable.”

Ellis says he had received many complaints from his own constituents about similar problems and had previously asked the Texas insurance commissioner to launch a widespread investigation of State Farm. While he says that has not happened to date he welcomes the Travis County criminal probe.

Ellis has successfully called other insurance companies to task on the very same issue of not paying for lifted shingles damage. He previously called for a civil investigation by the Texas Department of Insurance against the Texas Windstorm Insurance Agency and its sister company the Texas Fair Plan Association, alleging a similar organized pattern of non-payment of lifted-shingle claims.

The resulting investigation ultimately led to enforcement action by the Texas Department of Insurance against both companies. The state regulator required each of those companies to go back and reevaluate claims and pay for, among other things, shingles lifted and unsealed by hurricane force winds on roofs.

ABC News has confirmed grand jury subpoenas have been served to State Farm.

“We have requested a large amount of information from them, and they are complying with our requests,” said Gregg Cox of the Travis County D.A.’s office.

State Farm declined an interview request for this story. However, the insurer said in a statement that, “State Farm Lloyds is cooperating fully with the Travis County investigation and has successfully settled the majority of civil litigation involving Hurricane Ike claims. To date, we have paid policyholders more than $1.5 billion dollars, much of which went to repair or replace roofs. We have been actively working to resolve questions related to roofing shingle claims. We will continue these efforts to maintain the trust of Texas homeowners, of which more than one in six has placed their confidence in State Farm Lloyd’s to protect their homes.”

State Farm Lloyds says it will soon file papers with the court disputing the claims made in the Warner’s recently amended lawsuit.

The criminal investigation by the Travis County District Attorney’s office is focused on State Farm’s actions in Texas. ABC News will be looking into stories and complaints from consumers who live in other states. If you have something you would like to share you can email Mark Greenblatt.

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Warner’s lawsuit alleges that State Farm documents establish a clear internal policy of intentionally denying consumer claims for roof damage similar to what Warner experienced. Warner’s attorney, Steve Mostyn, claims the systematic denial of those types of claims may have quietly saved State Farm close to $1 billion.

Mostyn says State Farm documents obtained in the lawsuit reveal an attempt by managers to hide the company’s policy of non-payment from state insurance regulators.

“They absolutely went through an effort to cover it up,” Mostyn said. “These emails are coming from the top. They’re setting policy. And that policy by their own admission … shows conclusively they have not paid thousands of people.”

In Warner’s case, his problems began after he says the high winds of Hurricane Ike caused the shingles on his roof to become “lifted.” Those winds, Warner alleges in his suit, broke the seal under Warner’s shingles that normally create a water-tight barrier. Warner says an independent adjuster he hired agreed the damage was extensive and recommended Warner’s roof be replaced.

Warner alleges, however, State Farm repeatedly refused to admit the unsealed tabs were damage that should be paid under the policy. So Warner filed a consumer complaint with the Texas Department of Insurance, hoping the regulator could help. However, Warner’s lawsuit says it was during that very investigation of his complaint to insurance regulators that State Farm began to cover up its practices of refusing to pay for this kind of damage.

ABC News reviewed documents obtained in the lawsuit including an initial draft of State Farm’s response to insurance regulators about Warner’s complaint. In that draft letter, State Farm clearly disclosed how the company did not pay for insurance claims related to broken seals on roofs, saying, “Regarding the detached seals, there is no coverage as this condition is not considered… physical loss.”

DFW Tornado Victims Get The Most Out Of Their Insurance Claims

League City, Texas – April 24, 2012 – As the skies finally cleared in the Dallas area on April 3, 2012 and residents ventured out to see what kind of tornado damage they may have received from the massive storms of the day, it was just the beginning of the turmoil ahead for Dallas/Fort Worth property owners. With many homes demolished and lives uprooted in the wake of an unbelievable 11 confirmed tornadoes in one afternoon, it is hard to imagine that an insurance company might deny a tornado damage claim for its policyholders. However, the truth is that claim delays, disputes, and denials occur often in the insurance industry. The good news is that Morrison & Morrison Inc. has the information to help tornado victims get the most out of their insurance claims.

“It is not uncommon for property owners to experience a disaster after the disaster,” says Clay Morrison, President of Morrison & Morrison Inc. “We’ve already been getting calls where the insurer should have totaled the property for a total loss, but instead the insurer is treating it as a partial repair.”

Similar to the way that “location, location, location” is known as the key to buying property, “document, document, document” is the key to successful insurance claims. It is vital to extensively document all tornado damage done to the property. This entails taking photos and video of the property, contents, and debris prior to moving or disposing of anything. All tornado damage should be noted in order to avoid disputes later, and damaged contents should not be disposed of even if it appears to be a complete loss.

Another element of documentation is keeping written receipts for all expenses, especially if paid in cash. This includes receipts for payments like contractor fees, hotel and restaurant charges, cleaning, storage, etc. Also, be sure to only give copies of photos and documents to the insurance adjuster instead of the originals of any of the documentation. It is vital that proof exists to substantiate your insurance claim, so keeping the originals is the safest way to ensure that documentation is not lost.

Also document any dealings with contractors. Make sure you are given copies of contracts, and that they contain a clear estimate of charges.

Even after substantial documentation of tornado damage, if a property owner experiences insurance claim delays, disputes, or denials, it is important to contact a professional public adjuster like those at Morrison & Morrison Inc. for help.

“Don’t dig the hole that you’re in any deeper than it already is. Get a professional public adjuster who represents only you before you harm your position in the claims process even further,” advises Morrison.

About Morrison & Morrison Inc.
Morrison & Morrison Inc. is a property loss consulting firm and licensed public insurance adjusting group, based in League City, Texas. The company is an authority on assessing, documenting, and negotiating property claim damages. They can help determine the true amount of damages, handle the adjustment process, deal with the insurance company, and if needed, manage the appraisal process. For more information about the company, please visit http://www.publicinsuranceadjuster.net/

McAllen Hailstorm Shocks Residents: Victims Get The Most Out Of Their Insurance Claims

League City, TexasApril 24, 2012 – Astounded residents of McAllen, Texas were blindsided on the evening of March 19, 2012 when a hailstorm hit their city unlike anything seen there before. McAllen was hammered with torrential rain, winds at gusts of 75 mph, and golf ball to baseball sized hail that fell continuously for nearly an hour. The scene was unbelievable to property owners when they looked outside to find huge accumulations of hail on the ground and damage to their property.

That was just the beginning of the turmoil ahead for McAllen property owners, as many are now learning that it is not uncommon for insurance companies to deny hail damage claims for its policyholders. Claim delays, disputes, and denials occur often in the insurance industry. The good news is that Morrison & Morrison Inc. has the information to help hail damage victims get the most out of their insurance claims.

The first step is for property owners to look for signs of hail damage themselves. Look for loose granules on asphalt roof shingles. Also check for granules in rain gutters and downspouts, because the loose granules will eventually wash away. Finally, look for hail dents in exposed surfaces like vents, siding, decks, and also automobiles.

However, it is not enough for a property owner to complete all inspections him or herself. It is not uncommon for hail damage to be unseen, so it is necessary to have it inspected by a professional. Roofs are especially at risk of hail damage and often sustain more harm than it appears.

“There can be extensive damage to a large commercial flat roof,” says Clay Morrison, President of Morrison & Morrison Inc. “and the owner won’t know it until even a year later. Also, you can have multiple fractures in a tile roof that you won’t know about without close inspection.”

Similar to the way that “location, location, location” is known as the key to buying property, “document, document, document” is the key to successful insurance claims. It is vital to extensively document all hail damage done to the property. This entails taking photos and video of the property prior to moving or disposing of anything. Take pictures of any dented siding or broken windows, and photograph any roof shingle granules that may have washed into rain gutters or downspouts. All hail damage should be noted in order to avoid disputes later. Also take pictures of any hail on the property to document the amount of hail that occurred.

Another element of documentation is keeping written receipts for all expenses, especially if paid in cash. Also, be sure to only give copies of photos and documents to the insurance adjuster instead of the originals of any of the documentation. It is vital that proof exists to substantiate your insurance claim, so keeping the originals is the safest way to ensure that documentation is not lost.

Also document any dealings with contractors. Make sure you are given copies of contracts, and that they contain a clear estimate of charges.

Even after substantial documentation of hail damage, if a property owner experiences insurance claim delays, disputes, or denials, it is important to contact a professional public adjuster like those at Morrison & Morrison Inc. for help.

“Don’t dig the hole that you’re in any deeper than it already is. Get a professional public adjuster who represents only you before you harm your position in the claims process even further,” advises Morrison.

About Morrison & Morrison Inc.
Morrison & Morrison Inc. is a property loss consulting firm and licensed public insurance adjusting group, based in League City, Texas. The company is an authority on assessing, documenting, and negotiating property claim damages. They can help determine the true amount of damages, handle the adjustment process, deal with the insurance company, and if needed, manage the appraisal process. For more information about the company, please visit http://www.publicinsuranceadjuster.net/

Dallas Tornado Claims

Was your home or business damaged by the tornadoes that tore through the Dallas metropolitan area on April 3, 2012? At least 11 tornadoes were confirmed, but even if you didn’t suffer a direct hit by a funnel cloud, the path of destruction can be widespread and devastating. If your property suffered tornado damage, there are steps you should take to ensure your insurance claim is not denied.

What You Should Do Now

• Take photos and video of the structure, contents and debris prior to moving or disposing of anything, and before making any temporary repairs.
• Tarp openings in your roof and walls if possible to prevent further damage.
• Do not dispose of any damaged property contents even though you think they may be a complete loss.
• Note all tornado damage, especially “cracks” in the structure that were not present before the tornado.
• Hire a contractor to clean up debris. If you do it yourself, you may not be compensated by your insurer or may only be given minimum wage.
• Make arrangements for living quarters if your home is uninhabitable and for storing its contents.
• Keep written receipts for all expenses, especially if you pay cash. This includes things like contractor fees, hotel and restaurant charges, cleaning, storage, etc.
• Only give copies of photos and documents to your insurance adjuster, not any originals.
• Make sure your contractor’s contract has a clear estimate of charges. If a contract says “the work will be done for an amount the insurer agrees to,” find another contractor. In many cases this type of contract is illegal.

When Your Adjustor Arrives

• Have the adjuster sign for anything you give him/her. This is your receipt that you have provided the documents requested.
• Do not understate what you feel your loss may be.
• Point out all tornado damages and have a witness with you when the adjuster inspects the property.
• Seek professional assistance before signing a proof of loss for your adjuster, so that you can make sure that the document is correct in every aspect.
• Be cooperative, but stand your ground on damages that you are expecting to be covered.
• Be wary of the following statement: “If there is anything else I did not cover, you can just supplement the claim later.” Supplementing is much more difficult than getting your claim paid properly up front.
Even if you do everything right, many Dallas area property owners may still experience insurance claim delays, disputes, and denials. Texas law requires insurance companies to state the reasons for delaying or denying payment, as long as the policy covers tornado damage. Your adjustor should come out promptly to assess your tornado damages, and you can prevent disputes later on by following the guidelines listed above. If your insurance claim is denied, don’t give up! Don’t let yourself become a victim twice when dealing with your tornado damage insurance claims.

McAllen Hail Claims

Was your home or business harmed by the hail that pummeled McAllen on March 19, 2012? If your area was hit by the intense rain, wind, and hail the size of golf balls or baseballs, then you are now likely dealing with insurance claims in the aftermath of the storm damage. It can be a frustrating process, but if done right you can get the money you need.

There are some symptoms of hail damage that you can spot yourself. First, look for loose granules on asphalt roof shingles. Also check for granules in your rain gutters and downspouts, because the loose granules will eventually wash away. Finally, look for hail dents in exposed surfaces like vents, siding, decks, and also automobiles.

Don’t be fooled though! It is not enough for you to perform all inspections yourself. It is not uncommon for hail damage to be unseen, so it is necessary to have it inspected by a professional. Roofs are especially at risk of hail damage and often sustain more harm than it appears. Not only can the roof shingles be damaged, but the structure itself may be damaged by a hail storm. This is one reason to make sure a professional assesses your damage because a quick up-front insurance claim payment may cover only apparent roof damage. But they will leave behind damage to the structure that you may not notice until problems arise later, and then you’ll be stuck dealing with insurance claims all over again. Make sure everything is handled right in the first place!

What You Should Do Now

• Take pictures and video of the structure, contents and debris prior to moving or disposing of anything. Take pictures of any dented siding or broken windows. Also photograph any roof shingle granules that may have washed into rain gutters or downspouts.
• Tarp any openings in your roof and walls if possible to prevent further damage.
• Take pictures of any hail on your property to document the amount of hail that occurred.
• Do not dispose of any damaged property contents even though you think they may be a complete loss.
• Note all hail damage that was not present before the storm.
• Hire a contractor to clean up debris. If you do it yourself, you may not be compensated by your insurer or may only be given minimum wage.
• Keep written receipts for all expenses, especially if you pay cash.
• Only give copies of photos and documents to the insurance adjuster, not the originals.
• Make sure a contractor’s contract has a clear estimate of charges. If a contract says “the work will be done for an amount the insurer agrees to,” find another contractor. In many cases this type of contract is illegal.

When Your Adjustor Arrives

• Have the adjuster sign for anything you give him/her. This is your receipt that you have provided the documents requested.
• Do not understate what you feel your loss may be.
• Point out all hail damages and have a witness with you when the adjuster inspects the property.
• Seek professional assistance before signing a proof of loss for the adjuster, to make sure that the document is correct in every aspect.
• Be cooperative, but stand your ground on damages that you are expecting to be covered.
• Be wary of the following statement: “If there is anything else I did not cover, you can just supplement the claim later.” Supplementing is much more difficult than getting your claim paid properly up front.
As much as you hope the claims process will go smoothly, many McAllen property owners may still have problems with insurance claim delays, disputes, and denials. Texas insurance law requires insurance companies to show reasonable cause for denying or delaying payment, if the policy clearly covers hail damage. Your adjustor should come out promptly to assess your hail damage, and you can prevent disputes later on by following the guidelines listed above. It can be especially frustrating to see your neighbors getting new roofs while your own hail damage claim has been denied, so don’t give up! Continue pursuing your insurance claim if you feel that your policy is not being handled appropriately.

Membership in Professional Organizations Helps a Small Public Adjusting Firm Achieve a Big Result

In the true spirit of Labor Day, I hope all of you take time to reflect on your work and still find time to relax. For today’s blog, I encourage you to take a look at the article, Small Public Adjusting Firm—Big Results. It is an inspiring story of one public adjuster who became a public adjuster after having built “his world around serving insurers.”

Clay Morrison is a public insurance adjuster who, in a former life, owned a restoration company. His largest customer was State Farm. Clay is now the president of Morrison & Morrison, Inc. His public adjusting office is based out of League City, Texas and similar, to many public adjusters, the business includes family—the “other” Morrison is Clay’s wife, Ruth, a Texas attorney and corporate counsel for the firm.

Morrison decided to become a public insurance adjuster when he was “urged” by one large insurance company to go against his ethical standards and change the way business was done. Morrison’s article, published in the NAPIA Summer Bulletin, details the closed door meeting he was invited into with an upper level claims manager who made a request for Morrison to help State Farm.

The request:

“We refer a lot of restoration business to you, and we need your help in rectifying the consumer’s entitlement mentality.”

Morrison declined State Farm’s request, but his very successful restoration business was quickly out of business.

Now, Morrison is a public insurance adjuster, member of the NAPIA board, Secretary of the Texas Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (TAPIA), FAPIA member, and a Windstorm Network certified umpire.

Morrison explains that even as a small operator of his own public adjusting firm, he found it very important and beneficial to be a member of professional educational programs. Morrison acknowledges the expense of being active in multiple associations, but explains his two reasons for going the extra mile and spending the extra dollar.

Number 1: “If you want to be successful in a field, you must associate yourself with people who are most successful in that field.”

Number 2: “If you endeavor to do something, you should strive to be the best.”

Two valuable points for all of us to consider as we enjoy this holiday weekend and our work.

Article by Nicole Vinson from http://www.propertyinsurancecoveragelaw.com

Don’t try this at home: Easy ways to mess up your home insurance claims

If your home ever is damaged in a fire or a natural disaster, filing a home insurance claim probably won’t be an experience to which you’ll look forward.

When you’re already in a stressful situation, it’s important to avoid making costly mistakes while dealing with your insurer. Here are eight goofs to avoid after you experience property damage.

Don’t be too quick to clean up

Your first impulse may be to start cleanup and repairs immediately.

home insurance claims mistakesClay Morrison, a property loss consultant with Morrison & Morrison in League City, Texas, observes that in the wake of a fire, tornado or hurricane, “people end up with a pile of water-soaked or burned junk and they’re miserable. So their first instinct is to clean up.”

The problem, however, is that an insurance adjuster needs to come out, inspect everything and take photos. If you clean up too much or haul away large amounts of debris and household items, you’ll likely jeopardize your chance to prove the extent of the damage to your property.

Prevent further property damage

Even though you don’t want to clean up too much after a loss, you shouldn’t let the property languish before a claims adjuster surveys your damage. Depending on the type of incident and how many policyholders were impacted, that could take anywhere from a few days to as long as 60 days.

But don’t sit and let rain pour in.

Following a loss, policyholders are required to mitigate or prevent further property damage. This requirement is found in the “conditions” section of insurance policies, notes Anita Taff of Taff Claim Services Inc. in Marietta, Ga.

Put a tarp over your home or board up the property if that is feasible. If you can’t gain access to your residence because authorities won’t allow it, obtain a letter from the fire department or another city agency documenting the fact. Show an insurer the letter to demonstrate that you took reasonable steps to protect your home.

Protect receipts and photos

One big mistake homeowners make is failing to take “before” and “after” photos of their properties. Each year, make a written inventory of your belongings, take photographs and make a video of all the contents in your home, suggests the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters, a group of property-loss experts that works exclusively for property owners. Be sure to store these images in a safe place outside your home.

Also, never give an insurance adjuster original photos and receipts. Supply copies or duplicates and then request a written confirmation that your insurer received the documents. This way, you’ll always have backup photos in case the insurer loses your paperwork or documentation.

Find a witness to the cause

Many frustrated homeowners have tried to get insurance claims processed on the strength of nothing more than their word. It might stand to reason that if your roof has been ripped off, the passing tornado caused it. But often the burden of proving the cause of damage still falls on the property owner.

Having a witness who can testify on your behalf can go a long way toward maximizing your insurance claims. “If a neighbor or someone who doesn’t live in your home can tell an insurer, ‘I saw a tornado hit that house,’ that’s going to be very important to the claims process,” says Morrison.

Stick to the facts

Avoid exaggerating your damage. Even if you think your insurance premiums are too high or you felt mistreated by your insurer in the past, don’t try to make up for it by padding your claim. Those actions are disasters in the making.

“I can’t tell you the number of clients who say, ‘You saved me from myself and I would’ve made a mess out of things because I’m not happy with the last claim my insurance company handled,'” says Taff.

“A good public adjuster will say, ‘Our job is to get you every benefit and everything you’re entitled to; but no more, and no less.'” Aside from being unethical, a false or padded claim can be denied and you could be canceled, she adds.

Don’t let a contractor negotiate your insurance claim

Some policyholders allow contractors to negotiate homeowner insurance claims directly with insurers. This takes you out of the loop and leaves you with no clear idea about the exact repair costs or terms proposed by either side.

It is important to stay in charge of your claims process, says Ron Reitz a public claims adjuster and president of Quality Claims Management Corp., based in San Diego.

“Generally when you have a loss you need to hire emergency services to help with something,” he says. “Whether it is removing flooding or drying out your property or bringing in temporary power, a lot of times these guys will have you sign a contract that gives them 100 percent of your insurance proceeds. They also will ask to negotiate your claim with the insurance company. Those are both big no-nos.”

A better strategy: Do the negotiating yourself, or hire a public adjuster. Here’s how to hire a public insurance adjuster after a disaster.

Don’t sign a release on your insurance claim

Reitz warns that people whose homes have been damaged by flood, fire, or natural disasters may be too overwhelmed and distracted to pay close attention to documents they are asked to sign by their insurers. That’s always a mistake. He advises you never to sign a release on your home insurance claim.

“Generally [the documents] say, ‘You accept this as a final settlement and release us from any and all claims related to this loss,'” he says. “You are not required to sign a release as part of the claims process. They owe you the money. Let’s just say you accepted $1,500 and you think [the damage] is minor. Then they start making repairs and say there is $8,000 in additional damages. If you signed a release, you just took away your right to go after the additional amount.”

Be cautious when cashing insurance checks

Reitz also says you should be very careful about cashing insurance checks marked “full and final settlement.” You don’t want to cut yourself off from claims payments to which you’re entitled.

In some states, such as California, it is illegal for an insurance company even to issue such a check, he notes.

Before you cash such a check, “send a letter to the insurance company,” he says. “Say, ‘I am not accepting this as the full and final payment but I am accepting it as the undisputed amount.’ Let’s say you have a $500,000 claim and they give you $50,000. You definitely want to use the $50,000 and then go back for the $450,000.”

Joplin Tornado Claims Examination – Tornado Insurance Claims

Misguided Trust with Property Insurance Companies for Joplin tornado claims?

Two weeks ago I was in Joplin, Missouri working on Joplin tornado claims. Joplin reminds me of a town copied directly from a Norman Rockwell painting.  The people are genuine, the youth are respectful and I can tell that a handshake is a readily accepted form of transacting business.  While the people of Joplin seem ready and willing to trust that their property insurance company has done the right thing for them following the devastating tornado that ripped their town apart in May, I found a much darker picture as I began to examine claims.

As my work on claims progressed, I began to notice some very disturbing trends on the Joplin tornado claims that no consumer seemed to be aware of. 

  1.  The first problem I noticed is that every property I examined appeared to be underinsured.  Underinsured means that the amount of insurance coverage selected by either the agent or the insured is not enough to cover the real cost of replacement.   At first I thought this was an anomaly, but not only did it appear consistently, it appeared consistently with two companies in particular.
  2. The next issue that I noticed was that all the estimates I examined from one company had made no allowance for overhead and profit.  Overhead and profit is a markup allowance added to the bottom line of an insurance damage estimate to allow for the overhead and profit of a general contractor.   Again, this phenomenon appeared on every estimate I examined that was written by the same insurance company.
  3. Next, I noticed that sales tax was missing from Joplin tornado claims estimates by the same company who had omitted overhead and profit.  Almost every city in America requires that business collect sales tax for their goods and services.
  4. Finally, the unit pricing allowed in the estimates by several insurance companies appeared to extremely dated and much lower than I would have expected.  I need to mention that the problems I noticed are prevalent with two insurers who are probably two of the largest insurers in Missouri.

I cannot tell you that every company has handled Joplin tornado claims in this fashion, but every estimate I examined was handled this way. Joplin seems to be recovering slowly, but I can imagine how many properties are underinsured, how many claims are missing overhead and profit, how many claim payments omitted sales tax, and how many folks are only now learning of these facts as they try to rebuild.

Time Running Out for Joplin tornado claims

Unfortunately Missouri has limited time frames to take formal action for any wrong doing, and at the same time most policies issued in Missouri specify that you must claim recoverable depreciation within 6 months or less in some circumstances.  These two factors, combined with a truly catastrophic situation make for the perfect storm when it comes to the consumer losing in the end.

I suspect that a huge percentage of Joplin claims were handled as I have described above.  If you have a loss from the Joplin tornado, I would strongly urge you to have a professional public insurance adjuster to examine your claim. Even if you were paid policy limits for your Joplin Tornado Claim, I suspect that you were not paid fully to replace your property even though your adjuster may have said that they have done everything they can.

Texas Wildfires Total Loss Insurance Claim – Update to our 2nd posting

It seems that just when you think you have addressed things properly, something else comes up that causes you to take notice.  We recently posted advice on dealing with a home that was burned to the ground and what to expect from a fire loss regarding proving your damages.  Following our post, a very vigilant blog follower who experienced what he considers to be a total loss from fire to his home, sent me a note reminding us of Texas

Statute 862.053 that reads as follows:

Sec.A862.053.AAFIRE INSURANCE: TOTAL LOSS OF REAL PROPERTY.
(a)  A fire insurance policy, in case of a total loss by fire of property insured, shall be held and considered to be a liquidated demand against the company for the full amount of such policy. This subsection does not apply to personal property.

(b) AAAn insurance company shall incorporate verbatim the provisions of Subsection (a) in each fire insurance policy issued as coverage on real property in this state.

(c) AAThe commissioner shall require compliance with this section.

Our last post was probably not very clear when we described a house that was burned to the ground.  What we need to clarify is “what”   is considered a “total loss” and who determines what a total loss is.  We have had reports from the field of some people being paid in full for their policy limits and some being told that while the house is burned, the slab is still usable.  The questions remain for us as to whether a usable slab causes the home to be considered a total loss and the statute does not seem to define it either.

We wanted to collect various opinions from some of the attorneys we work with and Sergio Leal with Merlin Law Group reviewed this statute and took the initiative to follow up by posting a blog dealing with how the courts have defined a total loss.  Please view the following link to make your own assessments as to what might qualify you for a total loss.

http://www.propertyinsurancecoveragelaw.com/2011/09/articles/insurance/texas-fire-insurance-claims-how-the-law-handles-total-losses/

If you have not been paid full policy limits for your burned down home, you may want to consider asking your insurance company about the above provision. We would like to hear from you on this topic as to whether you have been paid your policy limits.  I want to give our blog follower all the credit for being vigilant enough to bring this to our attention.

Bastrop, Texas Wildfire & Fire Insurance Claim Story?

Bastrop, Texas Wildfire Insurance Claim

Your home is gone, the insurer will have to pay the policy limits… Right?

I have been a public adjuster for many years and have seen just about every loss situation you can imagine. After seeing the wildfire damage in Bastrop, I could not help but envision the following story wildfire insurance claim unfolding….
These videos is a possible senario of Bastrop, Texas Wildfire Insurance Claim.

Wildfire Insurance Claim – Part 1

Bastrop Wildfire Insurance Claim – Part 2