Did you know there are people who listen in on the radio frequency used by the Fire Department on 911 phone calls? Be warned! You can expect a knock at your door shortly after making a call to 911 from various Public Adjusters, sometimes referred to as “ambulance chasers.” These Public Adjusters may tell you horror stories about your insurance company and how your insurance company will not treat you fairly or compensate you entirely for your damages. Beware as they may have one goal in mind – to take advantage of your misfortune in order to turn a profit.
Once a call is placed to 911 to report a fire, Public Adjusters competing with others in their line of work will race to be first-on-scene at the home, business or commercial building to take advantage of the situation. Public Adjusters may charge up to 40% of the total restoration costs or of your insurance claim settlement, costing helpless home, building and business owners thousands of unnecessarily-spent dollars. At 40%, their fee would be 40,000 for every $100,000 you receive from your insurance company including costs for restoration, repairs,hotel stay, temporary housing, and to replace your personal or business property.
It may appear that these Public Adjusters travel in packs. Thirty of them may show up at a home or building immediately after the 911 call is made and this can go on for weeks. They may try different approaches and various sales pitches to get the property owner to hire their services. It isn’t uncommon for them to blatantly lie to the owner and tell them they were sent by their insurance company. In doing so, they are on a fact-finding mission to get information about the name of the insurance company who insures the property, the type of insurance policy carried, the policy limit amounts and deductible, and the insurance policy or claim number. In some cases, they have been known to offer the property owner or property manager an envelope full of cash for information or if they sign with them for their services.
Public Adjusters often refer their own contractors who:
- May likely not be insured, licensed or bonded
- May not pull permits or follow proper procedures
- May not finish the job after receiving a sizable down payment to begin repairs
- May cut corners in order to rake in even more cash for themselves
- replace plaster with drywall and not credit the owner the substantial price difference of the material & labor costs
- not remove all affected materials in an attempt to save on construction costs
- not replace insulation in the attic, walls or crawlspace to save money
- not hire a licensed abatement contractor to remove of and dispose of hazardous waste materials that contain lead or asbestos and may cross-contaminate the building
- install lower grade quality materials than were initially in the home or building
The Public Adjuster will likely tell you that you don’t have to pay them anything for their services and that the payment they receive will come from the increase they are able to get your insurance company to pay you. Regardless of whether they are able to increase the value of the claim or not, if you hire them, you are on the hook to pay them the percentage outlined in their contract.Ultimately, this could mean that you will receive less money than you would have been entitled to and that you may not have enough money to repair all of the damage to your home or building or to replace your damaged property. If a Public Adjuster’s actions are deemed to be of a fraudulent nature by your insurance company, your policy contract can be voided and prevent you from receiving any payment at all.
SOS Solutions Will Work With Your Insurance Company
Most people don’t know that the adjuster sent by your insurance company will provide the same services as a Public Adjuster at no cost to the home or building owner. The difference between the two types of adjusters is that the Public Adjuster solicits and works for the general public and then charges them for their services. SOS Solutions schedules and manages any needed contractor services for property owners, FOR FREE.
As an informed property owner, you should know that you have 72 hours to cancel a contract in the State of California, which is why the Public Adjuster may:
- offer to report a claim to your insurance company on your behalf and will wait 3-days to report the claim
- offer to put you up in a hotel or offer to send you and your family on a vacation for 3-days or more.
In doing so, their intent may be that your insurance carrier is unable to reach you during the time period in which you can legally cancel your contract with them. They may fear that your insurance company’s adjuster will inform you about the role of a Public Adjuster or explain to you how the insurance company is regulated by The California Department of Insurance to follow proper claims processes.
Property owners need to know their legal rights – Legally, property owners can ask Public Adjusters to vacate their property and can even call the police if they won’t leave or if they continue to harass the owner. The California State Contractor’s License Board’s Website recommends not paying more than 10% of the total contract price or a $1,000, whichever is less, as a down payment to any contractor.
The Bottom Line:
If you ever have to call 911 to report damage to your home or building due to a fire or water damage, make sure to give your insurance company a fair chance. If you feel you aren’t bring treated fairly, contact The California Department of Insurance to initiate an investigation of your insurance company’s handling of your claim to ensure you are being treated fairly. Don’t make a hasty decision while you are vulnerable and feeling overwhelmed.
If you feel confident that hiring a Public Adjuster is an option for you, make sure to check the California Department of Insurance’s website (www.insurance.CA.gov) to verify that they are licensed and bonded and have no valid complaints filed against them. With so much information available to the public via the internet, you may also want to run a search on the Public Adjuster’s individual name or company name to make sure others have had a good experience after retaining their services. As a final precautionary measure, you may also want to conduct research to confirm that the Public Adjuster has no criminal history of committing insurance fraud.
SOS Solutions is here to insure you a no-hassle, worry-free, and trustworthy solution for you to hire licensed, bonded, insured contractors who believe in quality workmanship. SOS schedules and manage reputable contractors, that have been verified and vetted, that specialize in:
- cleaning the black soot residue
- getting rid of smoke odor that can linger after a fire
- water damage restoration
- removal of lead, asbestos and mold
- contents pack-out storage and cleaning
- dry-cleaning and textile cleaning
- fire damage restoration
- home and building repairs
- temporary housing.
Rely on SOS Solutions and call us at 1-888-589-1868 or request reputable contractors from our website.