Ask an Expert

By Tom Lopatosky

Working with Insurance Companies when Your Property Has Been Damaged

No one ever expects to have to file an insurance claim for damage caused to their property.

I believe the vast majority of Home and Business Owners alike simply consider insurance a ‘necessary evil’, paying the bill as it comes in but never really giving it much thought beyond that.

Until a tree falls on your home, a hot water tank gives out, an ice dam backs up, pipes burst, or a wide variety of the other potential culprits of property damage occur, many individuals simply do not have a clue as to the quality of their coverage or what it actually consists of.

In fact, many go through the motions, seduced by the promise of the “lowest priced insurance one will find…”, etc. as they know they “have to” have it, but don’t really know much about it.

When an incident of damage does occur, that is when people REALLY find out (if they did not know already) what their coverage consists of.

Over the years we have been very fortunate (or unfortunate, depending upon how you look at things!) to have had a good amount of experience working with insurance companies.

In my opinion, there are certainly some companies that are very good, some that are “ok”, some that are not really that great, and everywhere in between.

To me, what really makes a “good” insurance company is the way in which they take care of their insureds, when a claim is filed.

When we are called to help a Client put things back together after something has happened, we know that the process is going to go one of two ways.

The first (and most ideal) path the claim could take is that the adjuster that is assigned the claim is of reasonable mindset and is very fair throughout the entire ordeal.

The other path, is the exact opposite. The adjuster that is assigned the claim makes it their entire mission to try to ensure that the insurance company is able to settle the claim for as least amount of money out of their pockets as possible.

There is no middle ground or gray area from what I have experienced and each path has a 50/50 shot of happening.

If you are lucky enough to be connected with a “good” adjuster, count your blessings.

If you get dealt the hand of the adjuster trying to nickel and dime and help as little as possible, all is not lost.

There are people out there known as independent adjusters who can be hired to help out with what can seem like a VERY daunting situation. They serve as advocates for the insured, will make sure your claim is maximized to its correct coverage, and typically take a modest fee of 10% of what the claim is settled for.

Even if you are in what you feel to be a “fair” situation, it still may not be a bad idea to get a reputable independent adjuster involved to make sure all t’s are crossed and all i’s are dotted.

Going through a situation where a claim has to be filed can be intimidating enough, having the feeling of your insurance company working against you can leave one feeling frustratingly hopeless.

If you would like to talk more in depth about this topic, feel free to reach out to us.

Although we sincerely hope you never have to navigate through a property insurance claim, we do also hope that you have at least a brief understanding of how to approach things if ever need be the case.

Tom Lopatosky has run his own carpentry and painting business in Providence since 1995; LOPCO Contracting – the “Personable, Particular Professionals” – specializes in carpentry and exterior & interior painting. Recently LOPCO Contracting was named ‘RI’s Finest Painting Contracting Company’ by ShopInRI Magazine. In 2013, Tom was named “Humanitarian of the Year” by the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America (PDCA) and a “40 Under 40” award winner by Providence Business News. He is a member of both the PDCA and RIBA (Rhode Island Builders Association). Tom has weekly ‘Home Improvement Tips’ that air on the radio on 630 WPRO AM (during the weekday morning news) and on television on WPRI 12 (during the Saturday morning news).