Adjusters investigating fire claims have to make a decision. The cause of the fire is important. Accidental fires are usually covered by the policy. Intentional fires are not owed. Did the building owner set the fire? Guess what, arsonists don’t admit readily to the crime. Arsonists don’t make legitimate insurance claims, but they also don’t want to go to jail. Maybe they confess on television and in the movies, but not in real life. Adjusters know the innocent policyholders don’t set fire to their structures. So what’s the problem?
The problem for the adjuster is the bad guys don’t wear black hats. The adjuster can’t tell the bad guys from you just by looking. No honest person wants an arson claim paid. It is immoral, illegal, and raises premiums for all of us. The innocent person says, “I didn’t burn down my house.” But, the adjuster doesn’t know if this is true or not.
Many insurance companies ask, “did you burn your house?” How many people say, “yes”? We don’t know the statistics. The odds are not many admit to doing it. If the answer is “yes I burned my house”, the claim will be denied. So what happens if the answer is no. The adjuster must rely upon other evidence. Ever come home and find your cat sleepy and full? Notice the milk from the left over cereal at breakfast is gone. What’s the conclusion?
Insurance adjusters make assumptions. The facts in a fire loss claim are not always clear. There may be evidence both ways. Some indications may suggest the claim should be paid. Other facts may raise eyebrows and create questions. An insurance adjuster takes all the information and forms a conclusion. If the data suggests the fire was not deliberate, then the decision is payment of the fire damages. If the evidence is suspicious or casts doubts, the claim will be denied.
Most people have never had a fire. It is a new and highly unusual experience. They desperately wish the fire had not happened. They don’t know what to do. They don’t know where to find good advice. They blunder along through the claim process in an uneducated way. They become their own worst enemy. Just like the sleeping cat, they take a lot of things for granted. They are surprised when the adjuster decides they were involved in starting the fire.
It makes sense to avoid confusion from the very beginning. Trying to fix and explain things later doesn’t work very well. Starting off on the right foot with the adjuster can be the difference between a promptly paid claim and years of litigation. If you don’t think good communication is important, then see how your next job interview goes when you mumble the answers to the interviewer’s questions.
Adjusters want to do the right thing. Adjusters like closed files. The fastest way to close a file is to pay the claim. But, adjusters don’t like to pay the bad guys. Part of the job is to prevent bogus claims. If things aren’t clear that the claim is owed, then doubts can lead to denial of the payment.
Smart people recognize their own limitations. They understand the value of sound advice. They see the need for experience. Smart adjusters seek professional help from the start. Much like the “do it yourself plumber”, things can get worse. The leaky faucet wasn’t spraying water everywhere before you tried to fix it. The insurance claim was just a fire claim until you proceeded without an experienced insurance attorney.
A fire claim is a really bad deal for everyone. Worse yet is a fire claim that could be settled – stuck in years of litigation because a “do it yourselfer” didn’t seek professional help. It is hard to believe but law school and 30 plus years of fire claims does teach you a few things. If you want to try your hand at plumbing, go for it. If you want to do your own legal work, get a second opinion. Thinking about adjusting your own fire loss claim, it’s your choice!
If you need experience with a fire insurance claim, give us a call. It is far cheaper to have a little help early in the claim than a lot of help later. Our Oklahoma attorneys can guide you through the process. Call now 918-587-1525