Put Me In, Coach!

Put Me In, Coach!

It’s a common dilemma. You had a flood in your house. The insurance company offers $10,000 to fix it. You can’t find a contractor to do the work for under $40,000. You may feel this is unfair. It certainly is. This is also by design. The insurance company makes more money when it pays you less than what you’re OWED.

Insurance companies use a very complicated program called Xactimate. This is also by design. If it were easy to use, the common property owner could master it. Xactimate software is very expensive. If it were affordable, the average property owner would have a copy.

We’re not talking about Microsoft Word, here.

Is it starting to feel like the deck is stacked against you? The insurance company is trying to get you on the ropes. They want you to feel powerless and hopeless. When you’re in that position, you will accept ANY low-ball offer they give you. Hint: You don’t have to accept the first offer.

Time to get US in your corner!

Like it or not, the insurance company uses Xactimate. That is their “language.” Speaking the same language as the insurance company generally leads to bigger and more successful claims. That’s why you need Xactimate.

Don’t let the insurance company tell YOU how much the damage is worth. Let an advocate fight for you. We’re on YOUR side!

We’re industry veterans. We’ve been doing restoration jobs for decades. We know the REAL cost of fixing a damaged property. Hint: The first offer from the insurance company will ALWAYS be less than what they think your claim is worth.

We need to be on the same page when we go to the mat with the insurance company. They have a “professional” quote that says the damage can be fixed for $X. We have a quote that says the damage can be fixed for $Y. Which quote is going to succeed? Hint: The property owner (YOU) have more power than you think you do!

Andy McCabe is a licensed Public Adjuster in Oregon, California, Maryland, and Florida. He is insured and bonded. He’s been doing this a long time. You can trust him. He’s itching for a fight. Let him go after your carrier! Put me in, coach!

Why Pay For Insurance Claim Advice?

Why Pay For Insurance Claim Advice?

I went on a little rant tonight.  After re-reading what I wrote in an email to a prospective client, I decided this might have some value to ya’ll. So here goes.

We’ve had a major ice storm roll through and there are tens of thousands of homes with water damage.  I’ve been contacted by several homeowners who’ve recieved their insurance repair estimates and are getting worried.  Here’s one of them.

(Names have been redacted to protect the innocent)

Q

“Hi Andy,

Thanks for the info.  I recall per our conversation the $XXX fee but do not recall your hourly rate for negotiations or changes with the insurance.  I am sure you are great what you do but I need to know what the total will cost me (even if rough estimate) and what I can expect with your results.  I know you can’t realistically answer that without inspecting my house and also knowing stance with insurance company.  There is also no recourse in your fee if you do not make any headway with insurance.  I hope you can appreciate my questions and concerns….I am always a little reluctant to sign on the dotted line with hourly rates and unknown results and timelines.  Feel free to call if easier to explain over the phone.”

A

I can appreciate your reluctance.  Most folks don’t understand why they need to pay for help, when it’s their insurance company who should be taking care of them. I get it.
I’ve also been in this industry for 18 years.  I know that insurance companies are not in the business of paying claims in full if they don’t have to.  Right now you don’t have the right tools to make them pay in full.
Do you expect your roof to perform next winter with some patched-in shingles?  Will your roofer guarantee that it won’t leak?  In my experience, no roofer will stand behind a patch job.
Were your gutters bent and dinged before this storm?  Just because they still hold water doesn’t mean they won’t affect your resale value.  New gutters are likely justified and covered by your policy.

I’m a busy guy with plenty to do.

I can only estimate as far as I can see.  Right now, I can see how much time it will take me to inspect your property and write up a proper estimate of repairs.
What I can’t see is whether [INSURANCE COMPANY] is going to play nice.  So there is no guarantee.  I can only tell you that in my experience, this claim is woefully deficient. You can’t know how deficient without an apples-to-apples comparison written in the same estimating program.
You pay for good information.
A Public Adjuster will want 15-25% and total control of your claim (and they don’t take projects under $250k).  A restoration contractor will want 35% and total control of the claim.
There is an entire industry of contractors who know the game and how to play it. That’s where I come from.  If you want to wait a month, you can probably get one of the local restoration companies to come write an estimate for you.  They’ll want the entire project in return.
What I’m offering is a realistic estimate for you to use to go back to [INSURANCE COMPANY] and get what you’re owed.  That’s all.  It’s a starting point.  I give you the ammunition and you’re not tied to anything longer term with me.  I should charge more for this service, but unfortunately most folks don’t see the value until AFTER.
I’m too busy to come out and take a look in order to provide a more accurate estimate of my ultimate charges.
There are hundreds of contractors in Bend that need my help right now.  Everyone thinks they know how insurance claims work, until they actually have to deal with one.  I can only work with folks who feel the need and see the value of my advice.
At the risk of giving away even more free advice, consider this.  You are going to hire a General Contractor to perform these repairs.  The standard markup in the insurance industry is 20% (10% Overhead + 10% Profit). O&P on your project is $3,008.73.  And [INSURANCE COMPANY] left it off because they are hoping you don’t know any better.
There. I just made you 3 Grand.  That one is on the house.
If you want to move forward with me, just fill out the link I sent and pay the deposit. If not, I’ll see you on the slopes some time.
Best of luck either way,
NEVER Ask Your Adjuster For Permission on Your Claim

NEVER Ask Your Adjuster For Permission on Your Claim

Adjusters aren’t in a position to determine scope.

Too many times, I’ve seen insureds give away their negotiating leverage by asking their insurance adjuster for permission.

Adjusters aren’t in a position to determine scope.  They aren’t in a position to determine cost.

Their job is to determine coverage.

 So why do so many folks turn into Oliver and start asking for another bowl of pourage?  Because that’s what they’ve been led to believe is the right thing to do.

I don’t buy it.

“Mr. McCabe makes very good points. The policyholder is not in a position where he should be “asking” for money from his insurance company. He should be in a position where he can prove that he has a loss and show what it will cost him to restore himself to his pre-loss condition. His questions for his adjuster, if he has any, should be pertaining to his coverage. Adjusters can give “estimates”, but I have never seen an insurance policy that limits the carrier to pay what is “estimated” to be the actual loss.

~Jim Bushart James H. Bushart, Missouri Public Adjuster

Are You Ready to Get a REAL Estimate?

Stake Your Claim

How To Get Xactimate Estimates Written by Claims Delegates

How To Get Xactimate Estimates Written by Claims Delegates

“How does it work?”

I recently received an email from a new client asking how Claims Delegates “worked”.  She asked several really great questions, and I thought I’d answer them for ya’ll.

In reality I’m being lazy, because these are actually very common questions that I receive all the time, so I’m putting them down “on paper” so I can start sharing a link instead of retyping the answers every time.  Is that OK with you?

Here we go:

What is your charge and how do you charge?

EX; by job type, job amount, amount of time it takes to write the estimate?

We charge by the hour. We have a fee range from $110 to $165 an hour for everyone from old, established clients (lower fee) to brand new folks (coaching included in services).

After the minimum service fee ($299), our estimate generation fee will not exceed 2% of the value of the estimate.

We can turn most water mitigation jobs in 24hrs.  Roof Only replacements take 24-48hrs.  Repair estimate return times depend on the complexity/size of the loss.

Is there a fee to register with your company?

There is a minimum service fee of $500 for first time clients.  This is applied as a CREDIT toward our hourly service charges.

Is there a minimum number of claims?

Or can you take claim by claim?

Absolutely not. No minimum order quantity. (There’s no MAXIMUM either… wink, wink)

It is our hope that you will enjoy the experience of someone else cranking out your Xactimate estimates so much, that you'll soon forget that you ever did it yourself.

Are You Ready to Get a REAL Estimate?

Stake Your Claim

Do you submit to the insurance company for me?

XM8 Can DoWe can send emails directly to adjusters if you prefer. 

We also have the ability to send assignments via Xactanalysis  (XactNet address: CLAIMS.PORTLAND.OR).

You can see how this works in this article.

That means that we can write estimates and submit them on your behalf to TPAs like Lionsbridge and Nexxus.

Phone and email conversations with carriers and adjusters will be billed at the negotiated hourly rate.

How is your communication with your clients?

We communicate every step of the way.  Our projects begin with a phone conversation.  It is important to us that we understand your needs and expectations right up front.

After you submit a Project Intake form, you will begin to receive automated emails from the Claims Delegates XM8 System.  You will receive email updates at every stage of the process, from “Intake” to “Delivery & Upload” of your estimate.

Once an estimate is delivered, a secondary meeting can be set up in order to work through any needed revisions.  Often an email response with changes is sufficient.

We will follow up every week or so after that, to check on the status of any needed Supplements.

Need Some Advice Quick?

Do you do construction estimates as well?

ScopingXM8Absolutely we do construction estimates in Xactimate. 

Our largest estimate to date is a $3.5million apartment building that suffered major water damage.  The project required the use of as-built architectural plans as the basis for our Xactimate sketch.

Of course, most projects fall into the more manageable $15,000 to $35,000 range.  Through the use of Scope Notes sheets and sharing of pictures via Google Drive, we put together a complete Xactimate estimate according to your needs and specifications.

And it all comes with your letterhead and estimator’s name attached.  In the end, the files are all yours (including any ESX files generated).

Do YOU have a question? Hit us up on your favorite Social Media channel!

What is Depreciation and Why Should I Care?

What is Depreciation and Why Should I Care?

I thought I’d record a short video to share my take on depreciation.

I had several hours of driving to do and decided to at least get some thoughts out there.

Depreciation, in short, is the difference between ACV and RCV of your property – whether that be your house, car or furniture.

RCV is the Replacement Cost Value of something.  Phrased differently, RCV is what it would cost to replace an item today.

ACV is the Actual Cash Value, or sometimes referred to as Fair Market Value.  It’s a more subjective valuation of what an item is worth on the open market today.

Why should you care?  Because when it comes to paying out your property claim, your insurance adjuster will use the ACV value as the basis for their initial (and sometimes only) settlement offer.  I see potential errors and problems every day when it comes to property claims and depreciation.  I’ll list a couple here.

Flat Rate Depreciation

This is the most common error I see, and also the most dishonest in my opinion.  Taking a flat 25% or 35% depreciation on a claim is just lazy adjusting and is completely inaccurate.

The adjuster who uses this technique is essentially saying that everything in the estimate has decreased in value at the same rate over the same amount of time.  In the case of property claims, it’s like saying your carpets and countertops have the exact same “useful life”, have experienced the exact same wear and tear, and were installed at the exact same time.  It’s just not an accurate portrayal of reality.

The biggest issue I have with Flat Rate depreciation is the fact that it also reduces the labor costs at the same rate.  How does labor depreciate in value?  It doesn’t.  Depreciating labor then becomes another tool for insurance carriers to reduce the “severity” of claims when dealing with uninformed claimants and contractors.

50% or more Depreciation

I shake my head every time I see an adjuster take 50% or more value from an item.  And I’ve been there when homeowners get fairly upset and insulted by it.  Taking that much depreciation is just hurtful and unfair.

The problem is in the rebuild.  When that homeowner goes to hire a contractor to perform repairs, what is the first thing that contractor will need: a deposit.  A claim that has been depreciated at this level puts the homeowner in a position of having to come out of pocket to start repairs, even if the claim is fully covered.

What Can We Do?

The first thing you can do is understand your policy and the part that depreciation plays.  Most homeowner’s and auto policies have depreciation written in.  It is possible to buy an insurance policy that is “RCV”, you’ve just got to know what to ask for.

The second thing is to understand that depreciation is subjective and completely negotiable.  If you feel that depreciation has been taken unfairly or incorrectly calculated, push back.  Don’t settle for a “that’s just the way it is” answer from your adjuster.  Ask them how they calculated depreciation, and come to the table with your own valuations.

The third thing to do is to learn how to RECOVER the depreciated amount taken.  This is the area that most carriers hope you just forget about.  If you never ask for your depreciation, guess who gets to keep it.  It’s not like the insurance company is going to call you up in a couple months and say, “hey, remember that recoverable depreciation?  Are you gonna want that back?”

Recover Your Depreciation

The most common way to recover depreciation is you spend the money.  For contents, that means going out and replacing that TV or coffee table and providing a receipt for replacement cost.  This is not a straightforward or simple process, and your carrier with drag it’s feet the entire way.

For property damage repair, you can usually get an RCV check written if you show that you’ve contracted for AT LEAST the full amount of the settlement.  This means you’ve negotiated a repair contract with a contractor and their bid meets or exceeds the full claim settlement amount.

State Farm Rejected Mold Claim

State Farm Rejected Mold Claim

Claim Doctor Q&A: State Far Denies Mold Claim

Often I get questions about denied claims. Too often it is too late for me to provide any meaningful assistance.  The moral of this Q&A is: Don’t delay in getting professional help.  The longer you wait, the worse your chances of a fair settlement.

 

Q: Jim R.

I’m a mold remediation contractor who is trying to help a homeowner.

They had some storm damage to the house and did not realize the damage until months later. The incident date was May 22nd 2014 and they applied for coverage 11 months later after realizing the situation.

Neighbors had roofs replaced with other repairs but these clients are struggling with State Farm to get the repairs completed.

In addition, they have a condition 2 mold situation that is concealed by carpeting and sheetrock. An air test was completed with structures still in place an did not come up elevated. The problem is that the species count of penicillium/aspergillus is 3 times higher in the affected area vs. an unaffected area.

If mold removal was to take place, without following S520 protocol, the spore count would skyrocket and mold spores would spread throughout.

This is a sensitive situation as one of the homeowners was involved in a very serious auto accident and is mostly bedridden in the affected area. Medications have reduced immunity and an increase in mold sensitivity is a major concern.

So far, State Farm has rejected any mold claim and I’m not completely sure about costs covered, if any, for the roof.

A: Andy McCabe

Hi Jim,

Thanks for reaching out.

Coverage issues are always tough, and State Farm is notorious for denying coverage for mold.

I would recommend putting together a package of anticipated costs, including the roof repairs, and have the homeowner submit it as part of a Proof Of Loss.

This is getting fairly old and it is likely less than $100k, so getting a PA to take the case isn’t very likely. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t reach out to a local Public Adjuster to ask some questions.

I can help with developing repair scopes, but beyond that I’m afraid I don’t have any magic bullets.

Good luck,

Andy