Shortage of Adjusters and Contractors in Florida Causes Headaches for Homeowners

20 Dec
Finding Contractors in Florida for home repairs.

Finding Contractors in Florida for home repairs.

It turns out that filing an insurance claim in Florida related to Irma is the easy part for many homeowners. Getting an adjuster to sign off on the final costs and locating a contractor to make the actual repairs is much harder.

According to a recent article in the Sun Sentinel, one homeowner in Miami is still waiting for his insurance company to sign off on the final cost to repair his roof damage, mold and moisture damage as well as structural fissures in the home.

Homeowner Carlos Villanueva said in the Sun Sentinel article, “The process has been inefficient and riddled with levels of incompetence.” Villanueva also stated that seven insurance adjusters had inspected his home but each time his insurance company said the adjuster did not have enough expertise and sent out a new adjuster.

Even temporary repairs have been a problem with tarps being installed on his roof four times, only to come loose and fall off.

Shortage of Adjusters

While not all claims have been as troubled as Villanuevas, industry experts admit there have been numerous problems with claims and many of the issues stem from the fact that there is a shortage of adjusters due to the fact that hurricane Harvey hit Texas shortly before Irma devastated Florida.

State data shows that 809,306 claims that amounted to roughly $5.6 billion were filed with insurance companies across the Sunshine State as of November 3rd. Data also shows that of those claims, 264,409 have been paid out and closed, another 180,787 were closed with no payment being made which leaves 364,110 claims still open and unpaid.

Unfortunately, while insurance companies handled the initial part of the claim process (actually taking the claim) very well, they have fallen down a bit when the assessment process became their main focus as significant delays and homeowners dealing with numerous inspectors has become commonplace.

Consider a Public Adjuster

One factor that has led to homeowner frustration is poorly trained adjusters who were quickly trained and sent out into the field under the governor’s emergency authorization, which allows the suspension of credentialing requirements.

In the Sun Sentinel article one homeowner complained of an adjuster that was sent to their home who did not speak English.

Due to these types of issues, many homeowners have contacted a public adjuster. Public adjusters do not work for insurance companies, they are hired by homeowners to help them work with their insurer on their behalf to determine the value of their claim as well as help them navigate the entire claim process. Their fees are usually a percentage of the claim amount that is eventually paid out.

In many cases a public adjuster can get a claim paid more quickly and will often secure a bigger payout than going through the normal channels but there is a fee involved.

In a bit of bad news for Florida homeowners, there is also a shortage of public adjusters as many of them headed to Texas before the Florida hurricane and are still busy working claims there.

Construction Workers in Short Supply as Well

Building industry experts were already complaining of a shortage of skilled construction workers before the Texas and Florida hurricanes hit and now the issue is even worse.

In the Sun Sentinel article, Mario Mandieta, owner of Mandieta Roofing Corp. in West Palm Beach said, “It’s very difficult to find good roofers.” He went on to say that all roofing companies he knows are suffering from a shortage of labor.

All of this means that homeowners affected by Hurricane Irma could be waiting weeks or months for their claim to get approved and even longer for actual repairs to be made.

A Few Claim Tips

Here are a few tips for filing a claim related to Hurricane Irma:

  • File a Claim: You cannot be penalized for filing a claim so if you home has been damaged, file a claim, even if you believe the damage is under your deductible amount. Damage can be more extensive than you think and repair costs can quickly spiral upward.
  • Make Temporary Repairs: Insurance companies can deny claims for damage that occurred after the initial damage if you do not make reasonable efforts to make temporary repairs. If you roof is damaged, get a tarp on it as soon as it is safe. Never make temporary repairs if you feel your home is structurally unsound or dangerous.
  • Document the Process: It should go without saying that you need to document all of the damage to your home as soon as it is safe. Take photos and videos of all damage from a variety of different angles.

In addition, take detailed notes of all conversations or interactions that you have with anyone from your insurance company. Jot down names, titles and a brief overview of every conversation you have so there is no confusion about your claim.

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