Philadelphia Area Commercial Property Owners Need This

As a commercial building owner, you have a lot on your plate. Not only do you have to manage the day-to-day operations of your business, but you also have to make sure that your property is well-maintained and protected. Unfortunately, no matter how well you take care of your building, there’s always a chance that something could go wrong.
Whether it’s a natural disaster, a fire, or some other type of property damage, the costs associated with repairs and rebuilding can be staggering.
That’s why Philadelphia Area Commercial Property Owners Need This.

It’s important to have a professional licensed public adjuster like  Clarke & Cohen, that you can rely on in case of property damage. A public adjuster is a professional who specializes in helping property owners navigate the often-complicated process of filing an insurance claim. They understand the ins and outs of the insurance industry and can help you make sure that you get the maximum amount of compensation for your loss.

When you work with Clarke & Cohen, they will take the time to thoroughly assess the damage to your property and provide you with an accurate estimate of the costs associated with repairs and rebuilding. They will also help you gather all of the necessary documentation and evidence to support your claim. This can include photographs, videos, and detailed reports of the damage.

In addition to helping you file your claim, Clark & Cohen will also act as your advocate during negotiations with your insurance company. They will work to make sure that your claim is processed quickly and that you receive the full compensation that you’re entitled to. This can be especially important if your insurance company disputes the extent of the damage or the amount of your claim.

Another important benefit of working with a professional licensed public adjuster like Clarke & Cohen is that they can help you avoid common mistakes that many property owners make when filing an insurance claim. For example, they can help you make sure that you don’t inadvertently undervalue your claim or overlook important coverage that you may be entitled to.
They can also help you avoid common pitfalls that can delay the processing of your claim or result in a lower payout.

Finally, working with a Clarke & Cohen can help you avoid the stress and frustration that often comes with filing an insurance claim.
Dealing with property damage can be overwhelming, especially if you’re trying to juggle the demands of running your business at the same time.
A public adjuster can take the burden of dealing with your insurance company off your shoulders, allowing you to focus on what you do best.

In conclusion, every commercial building owner needs to have a public adjuster they rely on in case of property damage. They can help you navigate the process of filing an insurance claim, ensure you get the maximum amount of compensation, and act as an advocate on your behalf during negotiations with the insurance company.
Public adjusters can also help you avoid common mistakes and reduce the stress and frustration of dealing with property damage.
Having a public adjuster on your side can give you peace of mind knowing that you have a professional handling the insurance claim process for you.  That’s why Philadelphia Area Commercial Property Owners Need This (a public adjuster) in case of unexpected property damage.

At Clarke & Cohen, we are professional licensed commercial public adjusters and charter members of NAPIA, we specialize in significant and severe damage to area businesses and institutions with our commercial claim services. Whether a fire, natural disaster, or structural damage has hit your business, commercial property, or institution, call Clarke & Cohen to get the money you deserve today.

Property damage can be devastating to your company. Your next move should be to contact Clarke & Cohen so we can help you get back in business.

 

 

Sound the Alarm

**Updated June, 2023:

~In April and May, our dedicated team joined forces with the American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania to bring safety and peace of mind to our community. Together, we made a significant impact by installing smoke detectors, creating personalized escape plans, and sharing vital fire safety information in underserved neighborhoods.
Many homeowners do not replace smoke alarm batteries frequently enough, allowing existing batteries to die. We see residential fires every day and these new 10 year batteries will save lives!

We’re deeply committed to making a lasting difference and ensuring that everyone has access to the necessary resources and knowledge to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.
The numbers speak for themselves – a staggering 906 homes are now safer thanks to the “Sound the Alarm” program! We are honored to have been able to contribute to this life-saving initiative and extend our heartfelt gratitude to our partners at the American Red Cross for giving us the opportunity to volunteer and support this important cause.

Stay tuned for more updates on our ongoing efforts to create a safer community and empower individuals with invaluable fire safety tips. Together, we can make a real impact and build a stronger, more resilient neighborhood.

~On January 16, 2023, in honor of MLK Day of Service, the Clarke & Cohen team volunteered for the American Red Cross, installing free smoke alarms and sharing safety information to several Frankford area neighborhoods.

The American Red Cross of Southeastern PA program “Sound the Alarm, Save a Life” rallies volunteers to install free smoke alarms and share safety information within at-risk communities.

The volunteer team, including Clarke & Cohen, installed 198 free smoke alarms, made 88 homes safer, and served over 240 community members.

Home fires claim 7 lives every day, but having working smoke alarms can cut the risk of death by half.

 

About the American Red Cross of Southeastern PA:

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Region of the American Red Cross serves approximately 4.2 million people in Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties. Our region provides food and shelter in emergencies, assists members of our armed forces and their families, teaches lifesaving skills, collects lifesaving blood, and so much more. All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. The American Red Cross “Sound the Alarm, Save a Life” rallies volunteers to install free smoke alarms and share safety information within at-risk communities throughout the United States.

About the Clarke & Cohen Foundation:

Providing support for fire protection to underserved residents of Philadelphia and the surrounding areas.  Clarke & Cohen is a public insurance adjuster and property loss consultant in the Philadelphia, South Jersey, Delaware and surrounding areas.

Why hire a public adjuster after severe property damage?

Why should a business hire a public adjuster after severe property damage?

There are several reasons why a business might want to hire a public adjuster after suffering severe commercial property damage.
First, a public adjuster can help the business accurately assess the extent of the damage and determine the full amount of the claim. This can be especially helpful if the damage is extensive or if the business owner is not familiar with the insurance claims process.

Gets your claim paid in a timely manner

Second, a public adjuster negotiates with the insurance company on the business’s behalf. They will help ensure that the claim is paid in full and in a timely manner. If the insurance company is disputing the claim or offering a lower settlement than the business believes is fair, the public adjuster will move the claim forward with beneficial results.
Third, a public adjuster can provide valuable advice and guidance throughout the claims process. This helps the business avoid common pitfalls and mistakes that can delay or reduce the amount of the claim.
Overall, hiring a public adjuster after suffering severe property damage can help a business to recover more quickly and more fully from the loss, allowing it to focus on rebuilding and moving forward.
These are just a few reasons why a business should hire a public adjuster after severe property damage.
Established in 1921, Clarke & Cohen is a fourth generation, family-owned Philadelphia public insurance adjuster and a professional member of NAPIA.  We provide 24/7 emergency service, immediate response and a consultative approach.  We aim to settle claims to the benefit of our clients.
Contact us at 610-668-0144 for professional help with your commercial property claim.

Forensic Engineer Fire Evaluation

Home type is critical to determine the structural viability of homes after a fire.

Fire damage is the No. 1 insurance loss category nationwide and 80% were in residential structures. Kitchens are the prime location of origin. Commercial fire loss evaluation involves structural inspection and testing of wood, steel, concrete and masonry materials. Insurance carriers are seldom inclined to pay for post-loss structural testing and will attempt to settle claims based on visual observations. In extreme loss situations (i.e., “total loss”), this may be acceptable, but, in many cases, there is partial fire damage linked to the structural system. This article will share insight on the structural test procedures for evaluating fire loss claims and focus on coverage dispute issues as they pertain to insurance assertions of preexisting damage.

Forensic Engineer Fire Evaluation

Fire losses account for approximately $22 billionDisplay footnote number:1 in 2020, with 3,500 civilian deaths. Forty percent of these losses were structure-related fires and the death toll is 64% attributed to residential one- and two-family dwelling units.

The 2020 estimate of 11,900 residential fire injuries was 44% lower than the 21,100 in 1980.

a figure fire loss valuation

Figure 1: Fire Loss Valuation 1990-20201

These facts point to the idea that the most dangerous place for fire deaths is at home, most likely due to fires originating in the kitchen area. Structure types drive these statistics. There are five categories of structures: Type I, II, III, IV and V. Each type is based on its resistance to fire. Type I and II are deemed the highest resistance with Type V the lowest. The simple definition is Type I and II are broadly classified as providing three- to four-hour fire ratings with materials of concrete, fire retardant encased steel and reinforced masonry. Type V buildings are wood-framed construction. Type IV is “heavy timber” construction which, although wood, has better fire resistance than conventional wood framing.

Of 195 countries in the world, the United States is the largest (perhaps only) purveyor of wood framed buildings that comprise 75-80% of our total floor space. All other countries, especially industrialized nations of the G7, use Type I, II and III construction. Even “developing countries” (Brazil, India, Mexico) rarely use Type V construction. This author is not an advocate for wood-frame buildings in areas that are susceptible to large fire loss. Think of California and the wildfires. Why does the fifth largest economy in the world rely on wood for their residences in wildfire zones? This is a mystery.

a figure excerpt from nfpa report for 2020

 

Figure 2: Excerpt from NFPA Report for 2020

For insurance adjusters, the tools to evaluate a fire loss and determine coverage are critically important. Insurance adjusters seek two critical objectives:

  1. Determine the full scope of the fire loss.
  2. Value the fire loss and reconstruction scope of work.

Insurance carriers may conduct these investigations with “traditional methods” of empirical valuation mixed with limited testing. Tests cost money, but they bring analytics to the insurance valuation process, which adds value to the process of estimation and scientific accuracy, which is necessary in the 21st century.

Four materials constitute civil engineering for the past 5,000 years: masonry, concrete, steel and wood. There are new versions of materials such aluminum, fiber composites, post tensioned concrete, etc. But these four basic materials are the building blocks of our civilization and wood is responsible for 75% of our building space in the United States. How should insurance adjusters approach fire loss evaluation?

I. Investigation

Fire loss investigations invest resources, time, testing and apparatus to determine the cause, origin and structural damage. For structural evaluations, a few tools beyond the visible eye are useful. These include both non-destructive testing (NDT) and destructive testing (DT) methods to assess the residual strength of materials.

Steel structures: NDT methods are X-ray, Ultrasonic Testing (UT) to examine the welds and bolts. Steel has a melt point of 2,600 F, and the fire proofing will last usually less than one hour. It’s imperative to examine residual strength of materials after the fire.

Masonry/Concrete structures: NDT methods are Schmidt Hammer for concrete compressive strength. DT methods are core extraction followed up with petrographic examination. NDT and DT methods will provide evidence of the remaining structural capacity and heat effects on steel reinforcement.

Wood structures: Wood requires testing in a lab by extracting samples (DT). Charring of wood members usually indicates lack of reuse and this impacts the replacement cost because code issues will raise the bar for the new design. Code upgrade is the most significant impact on Type V structures post-fire loss.

II. Structural Engineering Analysis

The structural redesign of the post-fire loss building must consider code upgrades, whether this is part of the coverage or not. The design engineer for the reconstruction must include this in their scope of work, although it may be separated out for cost valuation purposes. Certain carriers will demand that code upgrade design be excluded in the reconstruction plans purposely unless the building department demands them. This is an incorrect approach because the building authority is not the responsible party and is not liable to the owner for missing design elements that are required by code. The engineer of record is the responsible party and must include all design elements to satisfy the building code, whether the building department asks for it or not. Conflicts often arise on this point and insurance adjusters should be aware of this critical step.

III. Reconstruction Engineering with Cost Valuation

The reconstruction plan should follow through from Phase I and II to include all fire loss related items, code upgrade features and may trigger additional requirements that are required for the building permit. A few peripheral items that get triggered are the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements that can be expensive, time consuming and require additional resources. ADA is a critical element on all post-loss reconstruction plans. Fire sprinklers are usually triggered in the reconstruction process. Upgrades to new roof materials and fire-retardant wrapping that was not in the original design may become cost additions.

Reconciling these additional costs with the insurance policy coverage is a prime challenge for insurance adjusters. Owners need to budget for the “true reconstruction” with building code upgrades, better materials, ADA, fire sprinklers and other elements that may not be covered under the policy but which they must pay for. It’s not the conversation anyone wants to have but needs to be done upfront and reconciled before the project starts, rather than surprising our clients with these additional expenses.’

Reprinted with permission from Napia.com.

Contact Clarke & Cohen for help with your property loss claim.

Reference

1“Fire Loss in the United States during 2020,” National Fire Protection Association, Marty Ahrens and Ben Evarts, September 2021 Report.

How to File a Homeowners Insurance Claim After a Storm

Follow these tips to make sure you get your due

“Once you’re out of harm’s way following a big storm, the hard work of restoring your home—and your life—begins. And the sooner you reach out to those who can offer assistance, the sooner relief will come your way.”
View the full Consumer Reports article written by Tobie Stanger HERE

 

Reprinted with permission from Napia.com

 

Hidden Property Insurance Coverage Factors

These factors mean insurance coverage may not provide the safety net that many assume.

hidden property insurance coverage factors house and mousetrap

What makes a coverage factor hidden?

Every professional that handles first party property claims is taught this simple and indispensable fact: an insurance policy is a contract. Contracts should clearly set forth the terms of the agreement in writing, so that duties and performance for each party are (reasonably) known and can be dutifully taken into consideration.

In a policyholder’s mind, their insuring agreement is a shield or a safety net that hedges against fortuitous risk. Simply reading their policy should give the policyholder an opportunity to reasonably determine possible coverage gaps. However, in my work as a public insurance adjuster advocating for policyholders, I have found many risks to coverage that are hidden or disguised. I consider coverage factors hidden when they are challenging or nearly impossible for a policyholder to have access to, or be aware of to assess coverage pre- or post-loss.

The following examples contribute to a large share of claim issues or disputes, often to the detriment of the policyholder.

“Most insurers will refuse to release a copy of their claims handling guidelines to a policyholder, in some cases even resisting discovery requests for them in litigation. This is concerning, as the idea of the insuring agreement is that both parties can reasonably determine coverage, per the contract.”

Hidden in plain sight: coverage factors before a claim

Most states require policies to be written in plain language, with some statutorily employing the “Flesch scale analysis readability score” as a guide. Even with these well-meaning requirements, I have had attorney policyholder clients who found understanding their policy and coverage a challenge, as property insurance was not within their law practice. Many policyholders do not possess the base knowledge necessary to truly understand their policy. I haven’t heard of insuring basics being taught in school, without being a part of an insurance-related degree, have you?

In addition, insurer advertising is a primary source of policyholder insurance education. The focus of most of these advertisements are: “Save money on premiums!” and “We’ll protect you!” I certainly never thought to read a policy until I entered this profession. “I never thought to read my policy. I don’t know why!” is something I hear from most of my policyholder clients. After all, who would even think to read their policy or assess possible coverage gaps? They have the safety net they were promised through hundreds of hours of insurer advertising and possibly saved money on their premiums.

All of this can lead to coverage factors before a claim being hidden in plain sight.

I recently reviewed a premium discount offer from a policyholder’s insurer. It was titled “Impact-Resistant Roof Discount.” According to the letter, if they replaced their current roof with an impact-resistant asphalt shingle they would receive “a premium discount.” The letter did not state what the actual premium discount would be, nor was there any phone number or suggestion in the letter of who to contact to find out: only “Sign and mail your forms to the address above or fax them to …” The policyholder called the insurer’s customer service number they found online and learned that the discount would be $220.23.

In order to get this discount, the letter stated:

“How do I get the discount? If you have an impact-resistant roof, you must submit the following form(s) we’ve included to get the discount: […]

Cosmetic Damage Exclusion form (Do not return this form if your property is in Kansas, Indiana, Louisiana or Virginia). By signing this form, you agree that in return for the discount, you will not have coverage for cosmetic loss or damage that’s caused by hail and alters the appearance of the roof covering. You will have coverage for hail damage that allows water to penetrate the roof covering.”

Cosmetic damage exclusions are an increasing coverage gap and are becoming a large source of claim disputes and litigation. Shortly after my review, the policyholders paid $17,262.19 for their planned, retail roof replacement, but they did not move forward with the policy discount offer. It would have meant accepting a $220.23 discount for a possible $17,000.00 or more coverage gap. The policyholder told me: “We wouldn’t have known to even check this if our neighbor hadn’t referred you, Sarah!”

Now that we’ve covered a pre-loss example of a hidden or disguised coverage factor, let’s dive into the claims process.

Are claims handling guidelines best practices or disguised extra-contractual coverage limitations?

Claims handling guidelines are an insurance claim department’s playbook. They can be a way to standardize claim handling and coverage decisions, especially when faced with external variables to coverage that may not be directly addressed in the policy.

On the one hand, standardization can be a good thing, lending to consistency in treatment of policyholder clients, lessening the burden and time spent making decisions and — hopefully — general operations efficiency. Yet, claims handling guidelines can be used to wrongfully deny or underpay claims in conflict with the coverage provided by the policy terms. When this happens, claims handling guidelines can arrest and inhibit the proper application of the basic tenet of all property insurance: indemnity.

Per one insurer’s claims guidelines, they will under no circumstances provide coverage in hail and wind losses for pre-loss reasonable uniform appearance, age or condition for an asphalt shingle roof unless the roofing material is discontinued and no longer available. These guidelines do not have the same restrictions for other, much more costly exterior items. These seemingly arbitrary coverage determinatives are not present within in the policy. Most insurers will refuse to release a copy of their claims handling guidelines to a policyholder, in some cases even resisting discovery requests for them in litigation. This is concerning, as the idea of the insuring agreement is that both parties can reasonably determine coverage, per the contract. Why is it acceptable for an insurer to use hidden coverage determinations, unilaterally or arbitrarily? This is a common occurrence in property insurance claims nationwide.

Hidden coverage wildcard: adjuster training

Adjuster training is an increasing threat to coverage. Having worked alongside many different insurers, I have found great variance when it comes to the effort each invests in training its adjusters and claims staff. This could be one of the more confounding hidden coverage variables for policyholders, and insurance and legal professionals alike.

For most states, public and independent adjusters are required to be licensed, and to complete pre-licensing training that includes the basics of contract law, and principles to follow when determining coverage for a claim. Insurance company staff adjusters are not required to be licensed in many states, and therefore it is not known if they receive the same training that pre-licensing requirements cover. To illustrate my concern, here is a quote from a phone conversation I had with a staff adjuster, who was in a call center over a thousand miles from my client’s loss: “I don’t know about your state’s claim handling laws, and I don’t need to read the policy. My job is to follow the claim guidelines.” This has happened more than once.

Considering what we’ve covered so far — lack of policyholder knowledge and possible misapplication of claims guidelines — how do we know if coverage is properly determined in a claim if both the adjuster and the policyholder lack the necessary training for this complex subject?

Conclusion

Hidden coverage factors are by no means new in claims adjusting, and nor are the disputes that can arise from them. The reality that these are in fact evolving factors, increasing in occurrence, lends to the exploration that these are directly and intentionally influenced. I feel that the outcomes of these are unfairly detrimental to policyholders based on the number of wrongful claim denials and inadequate settlement offers I successfully overturn in my work.

While there is perhaps no immediate remedy to these hidden coverage issues, public awareness is a good start. The coverage battles at hand are currently cloistered with the professionals engaged in them. They break the surface for public view occasionally in news headlines, only to be drowned out and forgotten within the soothing messaging of insurer advertising.

These evolving hidden coverage factors, ever-increasing premiums, and new exclusions and limitations are resulting in record diminution of coverage. The benevolent insurance safety net we are conditioned to believe in, and give our uncompromising trust to, could very soon be on its last threads.

By Sarah Parker

Reprinted with permission from Napia.com

Original article

Contact Clarke & Cohen with questions about your property insurance claim/policy.

Public Adjuster for Hurricane Damage

Clarke & Cohen is a 4th generation family-run, licensed Public Adjuster and Property Loss Consultant.

We are here to help our clients navigate the tough challenges of property loss brought on by a hurricane. The trauma and shock after a storm is difficult as it is, so we are here to lend our gentle care, expertise, and guidance to get you through the aftermath.

Hurricane experience

We have extensive hurricane damage experience with Hurricane claims beginning with Hurricane Gloria in 1971, through Hugo in 1989, Andrew in 1992, Katrina 2005 and most recently Irma and Maria in 2017.

We have a strong network nationwide, further allowing us to support the loss after hurricane damage, wherever it occurs.

In addition to our significant experience with windstorm claims, our public adjuster hurricane damage team includes former NFIP catastrophe adjusters who are extremely knowledgeable with the ever-changing flood policies and intricacy of coverages.

Senior Professional Public Adjuster

Richard Cohen, our CEO, holds the designation of Senior Professional Public Adjuster (SPPA) – a designation overseen by the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA). Cohen is a Past President of NAPIA. He was also an officer of NAPIA from 1997-2004, and spent the three previous years on the board of directors. Cohen also has served as the president of the Pennsylvania Association of Public Insurance Adjusters. He is also a member of the New York and New Jersey Association of Public Insurance Adjusters. He currently holds licenses in California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Client support

Our job at Clarke & Cohen, is to manage the claim for the client, sort through the complicating factors of each unique loss. We support our clients with a sense of order and calm to the chaos of property damage. This strategy helps the claims process work favorably for the property owner.

We provide prompt and comprehensive response and proactive outreach. Our goal is to minimize the interruption and inconvenience caused by the loss, and expedite the relief that the settlement allows.

Through the successful management and settlement of scores of diverse commercial and residential claims since 1921, we have developed a proven and proprietary recovery process.

Contact us at (800) 487-5897

Hurricane resources:
FEMA
American Red Cross
National Hurricane Center

Second Annual Beach Yoga Donation Class

Pop Up On Margate Beach To Raise Funds To Protect Neighbors From Fires

WHO: Clarke and Cohen Public Adjusters + Property Loss Consultants
WHAT: Invites the public to participate in Clarke and Cohen’s Annual Labor Day Beach Yoga Donation Class.

Clarke and Cohen Hosts Second Annual Beach Yoga Donation Class

Liza Jayne Cohen will lead a 50-minute All Levels yoga flow on Douglas Avenue Beach in Margate.
There is no fee for the class.

Donations will provide smoke detectors to distressed communities.

WHEN: Saturday, September 3 at 9:30 a.m.
WHERE: Douglas Avenue Beach, Margate
DETAILS: Please bring a towel or mat and water.

Click here to Rsvp.

WHY: Established in 1921, Clarke and Cohen is a fourth generation, family-owned Philadelphia based public insurance adjusting firm.  The Cohen family, led by Rich and his son Brett Cohen and nephew Blake Zucker are public adjusters and property loss consultants with decades of experience successfully managing complex residential and commercial claims in the Philadelphia region, South Jersey including the Jersey shore, and throughout the country.
The team has helps clients manage stress, grief and anxiety as they work tirelessly to recover the property that the client has lost.
Rich Cohen developed the Beach Yoga event as an annual way to bring together the community for a peaceful way to destress and support good causes that are important. The inaugural event in 2021 raised money for the Glioblastoma Foundation.
This year, we are raising money to provide smoke detectors to distressed
neighborhoods.
Liza Jayne Cohen is Rich’s daughter and is a certified yoga instructor who visits family on the holiday weekend.

For more information about Liza Jayne Cohen please visit
www.emeraldsunyoga.weebly.com/liza-jayne.html.
For more information about Clarke and Cohen please visit clarkeandcohen.com, or @clarkeandcohen on
Instagram, and @ClarkeandCohen on Facebook/LinkedIn

CONTACT: Questions + to reserve your spot, please contact coriemoskow@glosspr.com

What is a Public Adjuster?

The entire insurance industry has for years past been talking “public relations,” but it is obvious that this term has no significance to the average person. There is no mystery to public relations. It is the art of good behavior and reaping its benefits; the disposition of a pleased customer to return to the place where he has been well treated; it is simply the building of good will so necessary to the expansion of any business.  So what is a public adjuster?

Insurance companies have placed too much emphasis on the selling of insurance and not enough on the proper handling of loss adjustments, forgetting that only a small percentage of the insuring public has occasion to call upon their insurance contracts to perform.

The Danger of Inexperience

Insurance companies generally have failed to completely lay proper background for public acceptance of some of the methods of loss adjustments. They have frequently clothed the inexperienced adjuster with the authority and responsibility of accomplishment. Incompetent adjusters representing insurance companies are often accused of “driving for a good bargain,” that it, offering in settlement an amount less than the assured claims he is entitled to receive, and attempting to force this adjustment on the assured with the result that all the money spent for public relations programs is wasted because the insuring public believes that actions speak louder than words.

Losses should be assigned to men acknowledged to be professionals, and the industry should require the raising of standards of adjusters, make the qualifications more exacting, and advocate the enactment of proper state regulatory laws in states where they do not now exist (that is, laws fair to the public, the insurance companies and to the industry) thereby eliminating any unqualified, inexperienced or unscrupulous adjusters now in practice.

What is to be done about the adjusters who could not qualify? The answer is simple; the process, difficult but fruitful. They must be educated. Through study and application, they must improve their standing in the business or the profession will go forward, leaving them far behind. By this means the vast expanding insurance industry keeping before it primarily the public interest, forgetting selfish expediency and personal gain, can acquire a magnificent reward; public acclaim and industry advancement.

Big Responsibility

One of the heaviest responsibilities of the insurance business is the fair, reasonable and equitable adjustment of fire loss claims. A satisfied claimant is the best advertisement an insurance company can have, and here lies the greatest public relations opportunity ever afforded, for it has been demonstrated often that goodwill can make or the lack of goodwill can break any business. This is particularly true of the insurance business, and especially so in the adjustment of fire losses.

What is a Public Adjuster

A public adjuster is a person engaged in the highly specialized profession of adjusting losses in fire and allied lines for and in behalf of the assured. He devotes his entire time to his work, maintains a permanent office for such purposes and specifically serves to advise and assist the general public in connection with claims arising from losses which are protected by various forms of insurance contracts. He is called a “public” adjuster in order to distinguish him from those engaged in the adjusting of losses for insurance companies. In several states the profession is regulated by law and licensed as are other professions. Where such regulatory statutes exist he is variously known as a “Licensed Adjuster,” “Certified Public Adjuster” or “Adjuster for the Assured” and is required to maintain a high reputation and to perform his activities faithfully with a deep sense of public trust. For any breach of such trust he is held fully responsible, and his license to engage in the profession is always subject to suspension, limitation or revocation for any misconduct, breach of ethics or unprofessional act on his part.

Generally speaking, a public adjuster should be of unquestioned moral character and wholly conversant with and thoroughly familiar with the standard fire insurance policy, and its various forms, clauses and permits, use and occupancy, commissions and profits, rents, improvements and betterments, reporting forms, and extended coverage endorsements commonly in general use in connection with same. He should comprehend fully all aspects and implications of the forms of insurance contracts in general use, and be able to give sound, intelligent, and accurate advise regarding fire and allied lines of insurance. In particular, he must be able to compute properly and apportion fire insurance policies that are concurrent and non-concurrent, with or without coinsurance clause, and must be completely cognizant of the various accepted methods of apportionment of losses.

Basic Requirements

Inasmuch as the public adjuster is engaged in an activity requiring the highest public confidence and trust, he must measure up to unimpeachable standards of integrity, and fairness in his dealings with clients and insurance companies. He must be a specialist in all phases of fire loss adjustments, who serves the public without fear of favor. Experience has demonstrated that only those who are unbiased and can see both sides of a question, who reach sound conclusions and adhere to them, who are independent and accept no dictation, who place devotion to their profession above gain by questionable means, and who have a natural aptitude for the manifold requirements of adjustment possess the qualifications which are essential for a successful public adjuster. Sound education, extensive practical experience, courteous deportment, unquestionable reputation and integrity, community respect, and business ability are all indispensable prerequisites.

The public adjuster must be the master of all businesses, must know commercial laws, rules and usages, must be familiar with sound accounting methods and principles, must possess a highly developed sense of values and understanding of mechanics and machinery. In short, he must have an orderly, logical, resourceful, discriminating mind and must have the capacity for reaching sound and decisive conclusions in presenting clearly all of the salient facts concerning an adjustment. No public adjuster can hope to reach the top of his profession unless he understands also the fundamentals of building construction, repairs, rebuilding, estimates, depreciation, obsolescence and building codes. In addition, it is essential that he understand merchandising methods, the making of inventories of damaged and undamaged personal property and the preparation of out of sight losses, and the cost and methods of the repair and installation of machinery.

The public adjuster, until the past several decades, was little understood by the general public, but today he is recognized and appreciated by the community.

Changing conditions and varied viewpoints in policy contracts and forms will, at the time of a loss, sometimes present difficult problems which must be faced and must be solved. Experience has proved the public adjuster invaluable in settling just such problems. For example, it has been necessary for the public adjuster to help educate the assured on the question of application of co-insurance, apportionment of a loss, replacement value and depreciation, and to reconcile the misunderstandings between the principals in the application of the policy contract.

Specialized Help

The public adjuster, trained and experienced in his work, knows what data is necessary and how to compile it, and is in a position to develop the adjustment clearly and with probative force. The insurance agent and broker are vital servants of the assured, but the public adjuster has the responsibility of rendering a service to the assured far more specialized. The assured’s interest in his coverage is slight until he has a loss, and then his interest becomes acute and a source of expert help and advice is the public adjuster.

The public adjuster serves to promote the confidence necessary for the smooth running of an adjustment, and to instill confidence in the assured at a time when he is under great stress, and to bring about increased understanding and cooperation between the insurance company and the assured. A competent and reputable public adjuster not only has the confidence of his client but also that of the company adjuster who realizes that he is negotiating with a worthy and friendly adversary. Confidence can be well entrenched if based on the firm foundation of facts with a spirit of cooperation among the assured, the insurer, the public adjuster and company adjuster.

Cooperation with Lawyers

In the past, lawyers have frequently expressed the opinion that the work of the public adjuster is an encroachment on the practice of law. This issue was recently raised by the bar association of one state which then considered the problem fully. It was concluded that the functions of the public adjuster are distinctly apart from the practice of law, and that he practiced a highly specialized profession for which there is a definite need. Lawyers are increasingly calling upon the public adjuster to assist them in handling and preparing schedules and claims in connection with fire losses sustained by their clients, and to advise them and aid them in the successful conclusion of fire loss adjustments.

The public adjuster has a profound respect for the strength and solvency of the expanding insurance business of which he is an integral part. His respect is extended to the companies, their executives, special agents and brokers and last, but not least, to the qualified company adjuster with whom he is constantly in contact. It is through the public adjuster that loss adjustments negotiated by and between the public adjuster on behalf of the assured and the company that publicity, advertising and propaganda, the three elements of public relations, are perpetuated.

Cooperation with Agents

The importance of cooperation between the agent or broker and the public adjuster cannot be underestimated. Each has his specific functions and each is important. There is no exact dividing line which determines where the place of the agent broker ends and that of the public adjuster begins at the time of a loss. Both the agent or broker, on the one hand, and the public adjuster, on the other, have a common interest and common responsibilities in the adjustment of a fire loss for the insured.

There are many more agents and brokers than there are public adjusters, and their position in the insurance industry is a continuing one. They serve the insured at all times in connection with his insurance coverage. But when a loss occurs the public adjuster becomes just as vital and necessary as the agent or broker. At such times the highly specialized character of the profession becomes apparent, and the agent and broker should so accept it. The public adjuster has come to stay because he is a vitally important cog in the smooth operation of the vast insurance machinery. Likewise, the agent and broker can be helpful in cooperating with the public adjuster in solving difficult problems arising in the course of loss adjustment.

Origin and History

To comprehend fully the present status of the public adjuster or to predict his future it is necessary to consider the origin and the historical background of his profession. Prior to 1880 there were no public adjusters, and when the profession appeared on the scene at the turn of the century, it was disorganized and composed of persons of varying reputations and scruples. No ethical code of conduct then existed, and while many of the early practitioners were capable and reputable and left a heritage of good will, others were untrained and their conduct was redolent of that lack of discipline which is so universally characteristic of the early days of all professions. These latter individuals caused insurance companies and their representatives to look upon all public adjusters with suspicion. They were accused of giving the assured bad advice, presenting exorbitant claims, and of employing methods and devices of dubious nature in making adjustments for their own gain. The passing of time brought stability and professional status, and many states passed regulatory laws to license and control the profession and insure honest dealings, fair play, and proper conduct. For the last several decades the profession has been composed in increasingly large numbers of thoroughly trained, experienced, conscientious, honest and reputable men. Today the public adjuster is zealous to maintain his reputation and that of his profession, and is fair to his assured, and to the insurance company.

The public adjuster has earned for himself a definite and necessary place in the insurance world, and the public’s confidence in him has been fully established. The profession is an expanding one, just as the insurance field itself is growing and becoming more complex. It can be stated without hesitation that the opportunities of the public adjuster are continuously increasing, and the extent of these opportunities is limited only by the capacity of its practitioners to adapt and prepare themselves for the increasing calls upon their knowledge.

Progress Must Be Maintained

The profession having attained the high standards which it now possesses, cannot rest on its achievements. Eternal vigilance is the price of progress in any field of activity, and it is vital that all states having no regulatory laws should enact statutes regulating the public adjuster, and should enforce these laws capably and impartially. Societies should be formed with strict ethical codes and should be highly selective in their membership. Membership in such organizations should be the goal of every public adjuster and the symbol of professional character, ability and achievement. This has been successful in other professions and will work equally well to insure the future of the public adjuster and the continuing respect of the public for his work.

 

Editor’s Note: The following article is reprinted from Best’s Insurance News, February 1951, Fire and Casualty Edition. William Goodman was the founder of the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters. In this essay he introduced what a public adjuster is and discusses the industry’s key problems and opportunities. His observations remain salient nearly 70 years later.

Is your home underinsured?

The housing market has been insane.

Median existing home sale prices rose 14.6% in 2021, and 20% from March 2021 through March, 2022. Prices are expected to continue to rise in 2022 at a slower rate as mortgage rates go up.

Is your home underinsured?

What does this all mean for you?
Now is the time to contact your agent or broker.

Many insurers have increased their rates based upon the growing housing market.  However, this doesn’t mean your home is completely covered.

If your house is underinsured and you experience severe property damage or devastation due to a fire, a weather event, theft, flood, leak, mold or a catastrophic event, your insurance may not cover a complete rebuild or even a partial renovation.

Think about this.

Not only has the price of your home increased.  Building supplies are scarce.  The price of lumber and other construction costs are up significantly, and there’s a supply chain issue with getting materials.

Investopia defines coinsurance as the homeowner policy’s formula that determines the amount of reimbursement that a homeowner will receive from a claim. The coinsurance formula in a replacement cost policy becomes effective when a homeowner fails to maintain coverage of at least 80% of the home’s replacement value. Those who are in this situation who file a claim could only receive partial reimbursement according to the formula.

Coinsurance is another reason why homeowners should revisit their policy sooner than later.

The bottom line.

Take the call from your agent when they want to talk to you about a policy review.

It may make sense to increase your coverage.  This will give you the assurance you need that you don’t fall into the trap of being underinsured.  And, if there is a major disaster where you need to file a claim, you’ll be able to get full replacement value where it’s warranted.

That’s the idea behind having insurance.  To make sure you are covered, if and when the unknown occurs and destroys your property.

 

About Clarke & Cohen Public Adjusters:

Clarke & Cohen Public Adjusters and Loss Assessors are licensed, highly experienced professionals who manage every aspect of your residential claim services.
We service Bala Cynwyd, PA, and the surrounding areas including Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks, Chester, Delaware Counties, New Jersey, including the Jersey shore, and areas throughout the United States.

 

510 Belmont Avenue
Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania 19004
(610) 668-0144
info@clarkeandcohen.com

Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy | Conditions of Use | Notice and Take Down Policy | Website Accessibility Policy

© 2024 The content on this website is owned by Clarke & Cohen. Do not copy any content (including images) without our consent.

Home page photo by Elevated Angles for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®