Georgia Association of Public Insurance Adjusters

Update:  Tips for Public Adjusters Handling Hurricane Matthew Flood and Wind Insurance Claims

Nicole C. Vinson, Esq., of Merlin Law Group, P.A.
1.First and Foremost on a Flood Claim- Don’t be Late with the Proof of Loss.
FEMA explained,  “The Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP) requires a policyholder to send the insurer a complete, signed, and sworn proof of loss within sixty (60) days after the date of loss.” But two extensions have been granted allowing an ADDITIONAL 120 days beyond the original 60 days.    
This means the POL is now due 180 days from Matthew, be sure to be on the safe side calculate 120 days from October 7, 2017 and then plan to submit the POL a week early.  Remember that even with this extension, the documentation supporting your proof of loss and the signed proof of loss will need to be received before the 60th day of the extension.
2.Sign, Sealed, Delivered. Proofs of Loss for Flood claims must go to the correct location.  Email is not enough.
Regular Mail:
NFIP Direct Servicing Agent
P.O. Box 2966
Shawnee Mission, KS 66201-1366
Overnight Mail:
NFIP Direct Servicing Agent
7701 College Blvd.
Overland Park, KS 66210
We recommend that you send the original proof of loss (with all supporting documentation) to the insurer and a copy of the proof of loss (with all supporting documentation) to the field adjuster retained as the independent adjuster. Send both via overnight mail and request a proof of delivery so you have confirmation it was received within the required timeline.
3.Better to be Complete. Don’t be incomplete with your Matthew evidence,  include all the damage evaluation and photos, and invoices- a very complete demand package can only help when you send in the proof of loss.  Filing a proof of loss can also really help in a wind claim because the response trigger can help you understand the position and the dollar value the insurance company is putting on the case.  Even if you don’t feel the policy requires a POL on the wind claim, consider the benefits of proof of loss because the insurance company needs to respond and it can be used later if the case has to go to litigation.
4.Is the Wind claim Being Denied or Shorted?  The insurance companies have been sending reports to other Georgia policyholders with inaccurate information on the wind speeds, gusts and duration. Some of in inaccuracies we have found in Savannah are incredibly low and off-base.  Insurance companies are not using the best available data in an effort to downplay the hurricane winds and change the basis of the cause of the damages.  You can counter this information with better data and consider whether the size of the loss warrants loss site specific weather data report.  Also consider subscribing to Metloop’s Daily Weather Newsletter for nationwide weather information updates.
5.Capture all the Damages. Matthew may be a storm of more subtle damage.  Consider having the wind damage evaluated by experts who are trained in wind damage claims to make sure you don’t fail your policyholder. In other states, entire roofs may be replaced if a small portion is damaged by wind.  Evaluations are less intense in these states.  In Georgia, the total roof must be looked at so you make sure you don’t neglect damages caused by the storm.  The carriers want to patch and leave because they don’t have to follow a 25% rule. Make your case strong by hiring an expert.
6.Don’t Cross the Line. Now this tip applies to all claims for Georgia public adjusters: do not give advice to your insureds on legal rights.  If the insurance company wants the policyholders to sign a release of the claim, make sure to let them know if they have questions about their legal rights that one of the attorneys who is a member of GAPIA would happily advise them of those implications. 
Merlin Law Group is the Policyholders Advocate, the firm handled first party  property claims against insurance companies nationwide.  GAPIA Members of the firm include board member and firm founder, Chip Merlin, Nicole Vinson, David Pettinato, and Ashely Harris.  Subscribe to our daily blog here.