Standing for Replacement Cost Value and Actual Cash Value, respectively, this can be one of the most costly errors in policy coverage. ACV is the depreciated value of your property–you never want that kind of coverage. Especially if your home or business is over 15 years old, you want to be covered in today’s replacement dollars–not the value after depreciation. If your home costs $200,000 to replace, and the depreciation is 25%, you will receive only $150,000, minus the deductible, to rebuild. Can you afford that kind of loss.
A client called around Christmas to tell me that her sewer backed up, and she wasn’t even sure it was worth filing a claim, as she thought the damage was under $1,000. Turned out the damage was over $13,000. Had she called her insurer directly, she would have been limited to $5,000 for sewer backup. Her loss was actually due to another reason, which was covered for the full $13,000, but I almost guarantee her insurer would not have corrected her–they almost never do! I presented the claim correctly, and got her covered for the full amount of the repairs.
At one time, insurers required three estimates, and then chose the cheapest of the three–no matter the quality or reputation of the contractor doing the work. Today, I work up an estimate using the same software as the insurance company. They pay for the actual repairs, not some low-ball estimate by a contractor willing to work on the cheap. That means that your property is restored to its pre-loss condition, which is the whole point of paying for that policy.
The most common uncovered loss happens in the finished basement when failure of a sump pump is not covered by a proper endorsement. I recently had a client with a $12,000 loss where I could not help because they didn’t have proper coverage–an oversight I would have found in a pre-loss free policy review! Other common losses where endorsement is necessary: jewelry over the limit; sewer backup; valuable artwork.
Believe it or not, I see this one all the time during free policy reviews. You want to keep your premium low, so your agent or carrier increases your deductible, often as high as $2,500, sometimes higher–and now you have no wiggle room when a covered loss occurs. One couple told me that they got a discount for the higher deductible–they did not realize that they saved only $28 a year–which would have paid for itself in about 53 years after their toilet overflowed, causing over $10,000 in damage! I find these discrepancies during a short, free policy review.
The difference between the RCV that they owe you, and the ACV that they give you, many claimants fail to recover their depreciation–and insurance companies count on that! As your public adjuster, part of my job is to make sure that you recover all of the dollars owed to you to cover your loss. I’ve seen depreciation of 75 percent! That’s a lot of money to leave in the pockets of your insurance company!
In my experience, it’s rare that we settle with the insurance company the first go’round. Depending on the size of the claim–a fire, or a large water loss, for example–a settlement can consist of ten or more checks. The claims process consists of receiving an estimate from the insurance company, then comparing with our estimate and negotiating the differences. We take care of the entire process–you have enough on your plate, especially if you’ve had a large loss.
More and more, insurance companies are forcing us to lengthen the process, either through what’s called “appraisal,” or even taking them to court. No matter what, we assist and guide you through the process, fighting for the best outcome for you and your property. When that process requires an expert witness, we serve in that capacity, or utilize our many resources–engineers, for example, and legal experts–for your benefit.
At the end of the process, someone needs to file your Proof of Loss (POL) which, if filed too soon in the process, limits your options–unless, of course, you retain me as your public adjuster. Then, as I’ve stated before, I handle the entire process, from beginning to end–unless, of course, I come in after-the-fact, in which case I can reopen a claim…even if you’ve cashed the check!
When a tree fell on my house during a thunderstorm, I never imagined that my insurance company would leave me high and dry. After deductible, I had $300! Removing the tree alone was over $2,200! Bert got me an additional $28,000 which, even with his fee, enabled me to make the necessary repairs, including a whole new roof and all new siding. I had no idea that someone like Bert even existed!
Cliff H., Trooper, PA
When my dryer caught fire late one Sunday night, I called Bert even before the fire was out. He took care of everything! He had my son and me in a hotel, had the house boarded up--I mean everything! He helped me through one of the most difficult times in my life and, fortunately, we had done a policy review the year before, so I was covered properly. Had this happened prior to that, I don't know what I would have done without him!
Valerie B., Lansdowne, PA
When Bert came to the house for my free policy review, he noticed a tile I had cracked when I dropped a pot taking it out of the refrigerator on July 4th. I was heartbroken, because the tile was over 20 years old, and no longer available. Bert got me covered for the loss, and I was able to replace the floor--and upgrade my kitchen in the process!
Norma C., Pennsauken, NJ