By Michael Perlmuter, Esq.
Alex N. Sill Company
It is essential when an insured incurs property damage that the insured understands the rights under the insurance policy. Insured clients of Alex N. Sill Company have repeatedly commented that they discovered during the adjustment process that the insurance carrier has selfish motives in adjusting the loss claim — and the insurance broker and contractor had conflicts of interest in assisting the insured. The only party that did not have a conflict of interest, other than the insured, itself, was the public insurance claims adjuster. Our insured clients repeatedly further comment that it became clear, during the adjustment process, that they needed an advocate who could understand the policy language and speak and act on their behalf.
The Ohio Insurance Institute, an organization representing Ohio property/casualty insurance industry, with its primary stated objective as: “To help Ohioans achieve a better understanding of insurance and related safety issues,” has put out a notice stating:
“To protect against the possibility of contractor fraud…
* Never allow a contractor to serve as your negotiator with your insurance company. Should a consumer allow the roofer or contractor to negotiate on their behalf and damages are either over-inflated or nonexistent, your insurer is not obligated to cover them.
* Other than your insurer or attorney, a public adjuster is the only claims professional that can legally represent your rights as an insured during the claims process (emphasis added). Public adjusters are licensed by the Ohio Department of Insurance…”
The Ohio Department of Insurance, likewise, has issued a publication entitled “Guide to Homeowners Insurance.” The purpose of the guide is to advise Homeowners as to the various types of insurance and insurance provisions and to provide guidance in the event of a loss.
The Guide states: “Should I hire a public adjuster?” Answer: “You may find a public adjuster helpful with complicated claims.” The Guide goes on to provide an answer for homeowners what they should do if their property is damaged due to a storm. Answer: “Do not make a hasty settlement and if possible, seek assistance from a third party.”