Texas Association of Public Insurance Adjusters Urges Severe Weather Victims to Get the Facts BEFORE Hiring Contractors to Rebuild or Repair

Published 11:43 am Thursday, April 21, 2016

AUSTIN, Texas— The Texas Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (TAPIA) cautions Texans coping with catastrophic losses resulting from the recent tornadoes and severe weather to “look before they leap” into arrangements with contractors to repair or rebuild their homes and businesses. “The only thing more heartbreaking than the original loss,” says TAPIA President Don Wood, “is having that loss mishandled by someone who is not qualified or does not have your best interest at heart.”

One of the most important things an insured property owner needs to know is who can—and can’t—negotiate your claim with your insurance company, Wood says. “By law, contractors—including roofing and restoration contractors—may not negotiate your claim with your insurance company. And, contractors may not hire adjusters to handle your claim. Insurance adjusting—especially public adjusting—requires special training and a license issued by the Texas Department of Insurance.”

Also, insured property owners should be wary of contractors who offer to handle their claim “for free” if you let them do the work. This is sometimes called a “contingent agreement.” Since public adjusters must be licensed, such services are technically illegal.

Likewise, beware of contractors and public adjusters who try to push you towards a lawyer when there is no sign of a legal problem. Most property insurance claims can be settled if both parties act professionally. On rare occasions, it may be necessary for an attorney to get involved if a coverage disagreement arises, or if the insurance company is simply not living up to its end of the bargain.

“Most people don’t know a lot about the details of their insurance policy,” Wood says. “This may be the first time they will file a claim with their insurance company. There’s a lot to know and do to be sure of getting a fair and proper settlement. A time of crisis is a hard time to figure things out. That’s why many people turn to a public insurance adjuster (PA) for help.”

For those not familiar with public adjusters, TAPIA offers this overview:

  • A PA represents the insured home or commercial property owner (the policyholder) in preparing, presenting, and settling a property insurance claim. A PA worksonly for the policyholder–not an insurance company, roofing company, repair company, or general contractor.
  • In Texas, as in most other states, PAs are required to be tested, licensed, and current on continuing education requirements. To qualify for a license, a PA must demonstrate significant knowledge and competence in a broad range of areas related to property insurance, claims settlement and pertinent laws and regulations. The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) regulates public adjusters.
  • Insurance companies put the burden of proving a property loss on you—the policyholder. Few people have the necessary expertise or experience to meet that burden. A PA has specialized knowledge about insurance policies, current replacement costs, property repair, business income loss, and other elements of property loss that are critical to getting a fair and proper settlement.
  • A public adjuster will: 1) Carefully review your insurance policy to be sure your claim meets all the requirements of your policy. 2) Thoroughly document and submit your notice of loss to the insurance company. 3) Work with the insurance company adjuster to agree on the proper amount owed to you.

Visit the TAPIA website (mytapia.org) for more information about PAs; a list of TAPIA members; a Q&A document, What You Need to Know about Public Insurance Adjusters; and other helpful information. For immediate assistance, send email to administrator@mytapia.org or call 512-299-6680.