Georgia Association of Public Insurance Adjusters
(GAPIA)

Tips For Georgia Public Adjusters Handling Hurricane Matthew Flood Losses

 
Author:  Nicole C. Vinson, Esq.  Merlin Law Group
If you are handling a flood claim from Hurricane Matthew, here are some critical tips that can assist you and your client.
  1. The Proof of Loss is critical.  Without a proper and timely proof of loss- your claim is not a claim.
  2. Your knowledge of Georgia claims handling and Georgia insurance does not apply to these federal flood losses. You need to know the National Flood Insurance Program.  You can be an incredibly well versed adjuster who handles fire claims with the best of the them, but this is a different adjustment.  You must now become well versed in the specifics of the federal flood claims.
 
       3. The proof of loss must be timely received by the flood carrier by the deadline and must be submitted NFIP’s form.  Every blank on the form must be filled out with spot on
            information.  You cannot submit a “partial” flood proof of loss or deem a POL as a partial.
       4. Only FEMA can extend the deadline for the submission of Matthew claims.  The only way the deadline is extended is with a FEMA BULLETIN.  At the time of publication there
            has not yet been an extension. So plan accordingly for submissions to be sent timely with a tracking number before the 60th day post Matthew.
            I would add your email to the subscription list so you will have a current update without having to check it daily.
  1. The Proof of Loss must include the documents that support the claimed damages.  It doesn’t matter that you previously submitted these documents. When you submit the proof of loss the documents need to be attached and included.
  2. When it comes to learning about flood losses did you know you can get a copy of the adjuster’s handbook being used by the carriers?    https://www.nfipservices.com/uploads/adjclaimsmanual_part1_508rev_12sep13.pdf
Yes, the documents used for flood adjusters are public record.  Search, read and review this information since it is available with the click of a mouse.
  1. Become very familiar with what NFIP classifies as a basement.  Some adjusters had this all wrong in Superstorm Sandy and coverage was not afforded.
  2. Use experts. And be aware of the problems that happened in New York and New Jersey after Sandy.  Here is a direct quote exposing the fraud with carrier experts  from the 60 Minutes story called “The Storm after the Storm”:
 
The city condemned Kaible's home, saying it was damaged beyond repair. The house had been knocked off its foundation. His insurance company, Wright Flood, sent an engineer to inspect the damage. Three weeks later, the Kaibles couldn't have been more surprised.
 
Bob Kaible: I get the engineering report that there's no structural damage to the house. So I'm going like, "What do you mean there's no structural damage? The house is not what it was before."
 
The insurance company agreed to send someone back out to the house. Surprisingly, it was the same engineer, George Hernemar, who worked for a company called U.S. Forensic.
 
Bob Kaible: I said, "George, how could you write a report like that?" He goes, "It's not my report." I said, "What do you mean it's not your report?" He says, "Wait here." He goes to the trunk of his car, goes, picks up the report and brings it into the house. He says, "This is the report I wrote."
 
Bob Kaible got out his phone and took a picture of George's original report. It plainly said there was "structural damage" to the house. But this is the report the insurance company sent to Kaible when they denied his claim. Quote "not structurally damaged." They said the damage was "long term"... meaning it existed before Hurricane Sandy.
 
The Kaible's insurance company, Wright Flood, the largest provider of flood insurance in the country, paid him just $79,000 dollars of his $250,000 policy.
 
Bob Kaible: We had a mortgage on the house. I've had estimates of $300-350,000 to rebuild the house. What am I gonna do?
 
Bob Kaible's house was torn down after he sold it for a loss and he believes it was because of a falsified engineering report. The photo Kaible took was solid proof for many other Sandy victims who were struggling with similar situations.
America was shocked with this news hit the airways after Sandy.  Be aware and be prepared to hire your own expert engineer.
  1. Don’t discount the wind damage. The media and the carriers are now downplaying the wind that was associated with the storm.  Wind damage to these properties is something that can’t be disregarded just because this storm damage looks different compared other hurricanes. Remember the wind losses will not be submitted to the flood carrier.  Spend your time and effort doing your due diligence for wind speeds specific to the property  and consider hiring an expert to evaluate the subtle wind damage that will be significant when bad weather rolls in again. Some carriers are arguing the loss is below the deductible without even sending an adjuster inspection of the loss.
  2. Make sure you understand who is insured. Check to make sure your contract is signed by all the proper parties and that the person who signs on behalf of a corporation has the authority to bind the company. Sounds basic but it can make a huge difference in whether your client’s claim is properly presented and whether your fee is paid.
Merlin Law Group is a proud to be an associate member of the Georgia Association of Public Insurance Adjusters, with a team of lawyers licensed in Georgia we are available to assist your policyholders here and across the nation. Meet our team at www.merlinlawgroup.com
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Nicole Vinson, Esq can be reached at 813-415-8758 or via email nvinson@merlinlawgroup.com