There are a variety of reasons why adjusting a fire loss is expected to be one of the more complex claims an adjuster may face. They can range from anything as minor as smoke damage to as severe as a home being reduced to nothing more than a pile of ashes. The complexity of these losses is not just the magnitude of the property damages but many times the emotional burden that is undertaken as you help an insured who has lost everything.
FIRE LOSS ADJUSTMENT NECESSITIES
A DELICATE BEDSIDE MANNER
Fire damage can be emotionally devastating for people who have lost their homes, belongings, or have had their entire family displaced. It’s the most delicate time to try and have a complex conversation about the details of a loss. The adjuster must have the wherewithal to consider the emotional effect the fire has on the policyholder, and proceed in a way that helps sooth anxieties as much as possible, while keeping the claims process on track.
HONESTY AND ACCURACY
The insured, of course, will be anxious to learn how much coverage is available and if living expenses, cleaning and/or restoration services are covered. Sadly, sometime these are difficult conversations if the policy is underinsured or has limited coverage.
It is important for insurance companies to work with reputable claims firms who are well known for hiring adjusters who exemplify compassion and customer service. At Vector Risk Solutions, it is of paramount importance to us that our adjusters understand empathy and know how to communicate clearly and compassionately with clients, especially during times of high vulnerability and stress.
A PRELIMINARY CHECKLIST
Assuming there is no origin and cause questions, some of the major items an adjuster must first take into consideration involve whether the risk is over or underinsured, owner or tenant-occupied, and what coverages and limits are available such as Personal Property, Additional Living Expense, Ordinance and law, or Replacement/ACV coverage in the existing policy.
UNDERSTANDING IMPORTANT TERMINOLOGY
It can be helpful for adjusters to clarify the meaning of these terms for policyholders who may not be as well-versed in the vernacular of insurance claims:
Actual cash value (or ACV) is considered to be replacement cost less depreciation.
Replacement cost coverage is replacing materials with that of equal quality.
Personal Property is defined as contents.
Depreciation is a loss of value due to wear and tear, deterioration, or destruction.
ALE (or additional living expenses) are debts that would not have incurred had the fire damage not occurred.
A loss that completely annihilates a structure, or renders it useless, is referred to as a total loss. Total losses completely exhaust a policyholder’s applicable insurance limit, which is why an asset may be referred to as “totaled.”
At Vector Risk Solutions, we pride ourselves on the measures we take to educate our team so that our adjusters can provide outstanding service that exceeds the expectations of our clients. Our knowledgeable and experienced claims adjusters are posted nationwide, to be available at a moment’s notice at any local claims site.
For more information on the complexity of fire losses, contact Vector Risk Solutions by calling us at 1-800-451-0798 or fill out the form on our contact page. We’ll be happy to help you find unique solutions to complex issues created by fire damage.