What’s an Insurance Adjuster? Knowing One Might Save Your Rental (Episode 343)

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[00:00:00] Sarah: Hello. Welcome back for another great episode. My name is Sarah Karakaian.

[00:00:04] Annette: I am Annette Grant. And together we are–

[00:00:06] Both Annette & Sarah: Thanks for Visiting.

[00:00:06] Sarah: Let’s kick off this episode like we do every week, and that’s celebrating one of you our amazing listeners who’s using our hashtag on Instagram, and that’s STR Share Sunday. And on Sunday, we will share you via our account on the gram, here on the podcast, to our entire email list. Annette, who are we sharing this week?

[00:00:23] Annette: This week we are sharing @stayoldtownroad. Again, that’s @stayoldtownroad, hosted by Daniel and Caitlin Quince. And we are super fans of theirs. They are in our membership and they are absolute stars. They have an authentic New Mexican stay in Old Town, Albuquerque, and it’s a farm compound they have purchased.

[00:00:49] And I’m going to come four Casitas on it, but I want you to check out a few specific things about their Instagram that I think they are crushing. Number one, they are in there. They are showing their faces. They are showing their story. They are showing their love for New Mexico, before and after photos.

[00:01:05] And so if you’re looking for inspiration there, just check out the way that they are sharing their behind-the-scenes story. Another thing I noticed that is amazing is they have really nice almost a 3D layout of the floor plans. It’s on their feed. I think it really gives a nice understanding of the layout of their properties.

[00:01:27] What I love is they had a local architect do it, so twofold. Giving back to their community there, and then also just giving their guests a nice feel for what the properties are going to be. And the other thing that I just personally love, each house has a white picket fence, this cute little white picket fence in front of it.

[00:01:45] And there is the most amazing fireplace in one of them that I just want to cuddle up with and hang out. So Daniel, Caitlin, keep up the amazing work. Listeners, please go give them some love on the gram. And don’t forget to use our hashtag.

[00:02:01] Sarah: Today’s episode is incredible. Gwynne is an expert in property damage claims, water restoration, mold remediation, maximizing your claim, and managing the contractor repair process for residential and commercial properties.

[00:02:13] And before you think this episode is going to be way too boring for you, I challenge you to at least listen to the first five minutes because she drops some amazing bombs in the beginning. Just truth bombs and a whole other perspective to the damage claims process that Annette and I were not privy to.

[00:02:33] Annette and I, for ourselves, and we give this advice out often, that you should have an attorney, a CPA, an insurance broker that you know, like, and trust. Well, let’s add a fourth person on there, and that is a–

[00:02:46] Annette: Public adjuster. And guess what? You need to know one before you need one. And this is something that, again, we cannot wait. We want you to listen all the way to the end because– do not count yourself out. This is anybody that owns any sort of property, your personal home, commercial property, a short-term rental. This episode is going to rock your world.

[00:03:14] Sarah: Gwynne, welcome to the show. We are so excited to pull the curtain back with you today.

[00:03:18] Gwynne: Thank you. I’m very happy to be here.

[00:03:20] Annette: Let’s just talk about what is the biggest mystery in short-term rentals?

[00:03:25] Gwynne: The biggest mystery is when you have property damage, you don’t have to listen to what the insurance company says because they are not on your side.

[00:03:35] Annette: Whoa. Dropping the bombs right from the beginning.

[00:03:39] Gwynne: It’s a setup. The policies are written so you don’t understand them. They’ll tell you things that are not on the up and up, and they’re only going to pay you out a small amount, but you’re entitled to more money on your claim.

[00:03:51] Sarah: I don’t even– wow.

[00:03:56] Annette: Why are you the one?

[00:03:58] Sarah: Yes.

[00:03:58] Annette: How do you know this secret, behind-the-scenes mystery that they don’t want us to know? How do you know it?

[00:04:04] Gwynne: I am a public adjuster, and I’m a public adjuster who works for a restoration company, and nobody knows what those things are. A public adjuster is your secret weapon, and a restoration company is the company that can bill direct to insurance for the damages in the claim, so you get more money on your claim.

[00:04:23] It’s a whole system. It’s a process. It’s a dynamic. And there’s a way to do this, to do a claim right. So I’ve been working as a public adjuster and licensed as a public adjuster for six years, and you learn a whole new way of thinking. Nothing is logical, nothing is reasonable, nothing is rational. They are not on your side. You are not in good hands.

[00:04:50] Sarah: Okay.

[00:04:50] Annette: Now that we’re feeling all warm and fuzzy–

[00:04:52] Sarah: I’m ready to dig. So Gwynne, are you referring to only giant damage claims? What if there’s something smaller that happens but we don’t want to pay out of pocket for it? Even those smaller claims, are you saying that the insurance companies on our side, and we might be entitled to more?

[00:05:10] Gwynne: Yes. In each case, the insurance company is going to underpay you. I want everybody to know that your first check is not your last. A public adjuster is the adjuster that works for you, the policy holder. The public adjuster works for the public. The insurance adjuster works for the insurance company.

[00:05:29] The independent adjuster works for the insurance company. The desk adjuster works for the insurance company. So they have a job to do, and their job is to be responsible to their shareholders. So they start out by paying you what’s called the undisputed amount. That’s a small check, and then you’re entitled to get more money.

[00:05:49] So you can bring a public adjuster in before that, after that. Usually, in a lot of states, you have two years, but the sooner the better. Let’s get the claim over with. So what a public adjuster does is goes in and does an estimate of the damages, but all the damages, not just the small amount– invokes statute, matching, continuous.

[00:06:13] Hey, I’ll give you an example right off the bat. I had a client that got paid $19,000 on a hurricane claim. We came in and then settled the claim for 375,000. So you’re entitled to more money. You just don’t know how much.

[00:06:28] So if you’re going to figure out whether you have a small claim or a larger claim, or what kind of claim do you have, there’s a couple of things that you want to know. Does your policy have a water cap, if it’s a water damage claim? Does your policy have a water exclusion?

[00:06:46] These things are buried in your policy in language that you can’t understand, and that’s by design. But I know how to read them. Other public adjusters know how to read them. I want to let you know there’s three different terms for water damage, and if you call in the wrong type of water damage, they’re going to happily say, denied.

[00:07:07] The first is flood. We’ve all heard of that. That’s when there’s heavy rains and there’s rising waters. The second is rain from storm, storm with wind. Rain by itself without wind is not covered. That’s called wind-driven rain from a storm created opening, and you don’t know how to say that. So you would say it’s a wind damage claim.

[00:07:30] And then the third is called water damage, which is a pipe leak, a fridge line leak, a dishwasher leak, a washing machine leak, AC leak, hot water heater leak. Those are called water damage. A lot of policies have a water cap on specific types of water damage. Another water damage is backup, drain backup, some pump backup.

[00:07:54] Do you have that? It’s a question for your agent, or somebody can look at your policy and tell you. So in order to determine whether you have a small claim or a large claim, I want you to know that the pipe itself is not part of the claim. So you don’t want to call in and say, I have a pipe leak. They’re going to happily say, pipes are not covered.

[00:08:16] You’re going to want to say, I have a water damage claim, but you’re going to want to bring in a public adjuster for a free inspection to see if you have cabinet damage, floor damage. What of the property got damaged outside of the pipe? That’s how you figure out whether you have a viable claim, whether you should file a claim or not.

[00:08:34] Annette: I just feel that I’m getting so much education right now that’s going to be for the rest of my life. There’s got to be a catch here. Does the public adjuster get a portion of this money? I just watched Aaron Brockovich last night where they get 40% of the damages.

[00:08:49] So I’m like, what’s the catch with the public adjuster? There’s got to be something here. How do I find them? How do they get compensated? Because I want to have one of these in my back pocket.

[00:08:58] Gwynne: You should, and you should know one before you need one. A public adjuster bylaw gets paid a percent of what we get you, same as attorneys, but an attorney might charge 33 or 40%. The amount that a public adjuster gets paid varies from state to state. So in Florida, where I live, because I work for a restoration company, a public adjuster fee is 20% of what the claim ends up settling.

[00:09:25] So you might get 10 checks along the way. You might get 15. You might get five. But each time a percentage comes out of that check. For the first year after a hurricane, with a declared state of emergency, the fee is only 10%. So that’s the bargain alley. Make sure you get a public adjuster earlier so you can get it over with faster.

[00:09:45] By contrast, WeDry, the company I work for, we also work in New York for the Tri-state area, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, and there, in New York, the public adjuster cap is 12.5%. The New Jersey doesn’t have a cap, but the average is 20%. So it varies from state to state. And it’s fair because it’s a for-profit business. It’s not a not-for-profit. So it’s not really a catch, but it’s how I also pay my bill, me getting paid.

[00:10:15] Annette: Oh, you went from, 19,000 to 375. I have to know because it’s inside me right now. Are there public adjusters for car accidents also? I’m just thinking the two largest things are home and vehicle.

[00:10:30] Gwynne: No, not cars, just property.

[00:10:31] Annette: Okay. So if this back pocket person that we want to find, because I love that you said you need to know one before you need one, besides you obviously on the show, how can we find this adjuster before we need them? Sarah and I talk all the time about having a great relationship with your CPA, with your attorney.

[00:10:51] Sarah: And with your insurance broker.

[00:10:52] Annette: Yeah, but not a public adjuster. So where can we source them? Where can we connect with them? Where can our listeners find these public adjusters ahead of time?

[00:11:02] Gwynne: A couple of places. Of course when you Google, I would look at somebody’s website and see how built out it is. You want to know that they’re not just one person–and there are good public adjusters that are sole practitioners in effect, but I advise that people get a public adjuster that also has an assistant type administrative backup. I think that you should ask on Nextdoor or ask on Facebook, hey, who’s had a good public adjuster?

[00:11:31] The key is when you speak to them and you see how they explain how things work, you want to have somebody that is really excited about educating you about the claims process because everything is the opposite of what you think it is. We’re all investors here listening to this podcast, and we go to meetups.

[00:11:55] When we go to our meetups, we want to ask people there, has anybody here ever used a public adjuster? Did you like them? Were they upfront with you? Were they communicative with you? Did they explain the process? Were your expectations met? Were they responsive to you?

[00:12:15] They’re out there, so that’s the way to find them, referrals from other people or Google. Make sure you check out the website, look at their reviews. And I’ll tell you, the biggest misconception that people have with a public adjuster is how quickly things are going to settle after they hire one.

[00:12:35] It’s still not a fast process. Look, you can get an attorney, and it can take three years. A public adjuster, you can ask them too, at what point do you send the claim to litigation? And they should give you an answer. They should say, we’re going to work the claim as hard as possible, and we won’t send it to litigation until the insurance company is doing all the wrong things.

[00:13:04] And sometimes they do. It happens that you work the claim and the insurance company just won’t respond anymore, then an attorney has to file a lawsuit. But not all the time. And even a denied claim can be turned around. A denied claim can be wrongly denied.

[00:13:24] There was a claim that we worked on that was a fully denied claim for an association. It was a hurricane claim. They said it was wear and tear. They said it was preexisting damages, and the public adjuster that I worked with turned the claim into 15 and a half million dollars in under eight months with no attorney.

[00:13:46] You want to go the no attorney route. If your policy has appraisal demand, that avoids litigation, make sure you know that– not appraisal request and not mediation. There’s so many strategic nuances everywhere. That’s the best way to go with your policy. And by the way, your policy is 100, 125 pages. It’s not that four-page document that your insurance agent sent you.

[00:14:10] Annette: Okay. You said appraisal demand.

[00:14:15] Gwynne: Yes.

[00:14:17] Annette: Today, if we just reach out to our insurance agent, is that a hot tip we just say, hey, I’m wondering if my policy has appraisal demand? Is that a quick question we could send over to them?

[00:14:27] Gwynne: Number one, I think you should send your agent an email asking your agent to send you the full policy in email, not hard copy. Everything you need to deal with with your agent after the very first phone call, getting all the information, should only be in writing. Because they say stuff that maybe it’s wrong, but then it’s a he said, she said.

[00:14:50] Once you send an email, don’t answer the calls. Just have them send you the answer back in writing. So ask for this full policy, then you can do a search in the policy for appraisal demand. Appraisal demand means that your public adjuster can send an email to the insurance company saying, I demand appraisal. Here’s the appraiser’s name and number. They have 30 days to get back to your public adjuster and say, here’s our side’s appraiser. The two appraisers, go to the property together, walk the property together, look at the damages, and the insurance company’s appraiser comes back with a number.

[00:15:30] If you like the number, meaning you the policy holder, if you agree to that number, then it’s over. If you don’t, the next option is to go to what’s called umpire. An umpire is a third person that’s chosen mutually from a list between the public adjuster and the insurance company, and public adjusters should know all the umpires and who’s in the insurance company’s pocket and who’s on the policy holder side, who’s fair to the policy holder, and look at this and say, okay, this is the number that’s the final determination.

[00:16:02] The umpire’s decision is final. No litigation. Claim is over. So that’s a better way to go whenever you have appraisal demand. It means you can demand it. If you have appraisal request in your policy, you can only request it, and the insurance company can turn it down.

[00:16:18] So what you do with your agent is not all policies can have it. It’s only certain insurance companies that offer it. So you want to look to see if your policy has it, and if you do, you’re already on the right track. If not, when you shop around for different insurance, you can say, does this policy offer appraisal demand? It’s a golden ticket.

[00:16:39] Sarah: I love that you used to be an Airbnb host, Gwynne. That is so cool because you have that background, and our audience, they’re all short-term rental owners and investors and operators. And so my question to you is, I’ve recently learned that– I have a new client here in Columbus, Ohio. Not much happens here in terms of hurricanes, or tornadoes, or things of that nature.

[00:17:00] And she’s opening up her first short-term rental, and we reached out to a few insurance companies, and two of the three– It’s a short-term rental. They’re not even going to look at us. You see a lot of these policies, and you’ve been talking to a lot of short-term rental hosts, being one yourself.

[00:17:15] Do you see that being the future in terms of insurance companies covering short-term rentals? And what can you do to speak to our listeners today about making sure your policy covers short-term rentals so they even have a leg to stand on?

[00:17:28] Gwynne: I don’t work on the issuing of policy side. What I want to tell you is that it can be that state to state the requirements for insurance are different for short-term rental versus long-term rental versus primary home. So there’s an insurance company called Prospect that is a company that insures short-term rentals, at least here in Florida.

[00:17:56] I don’t know what your state requires. Your insurance agent does know. As a short-term rental owner, you might end up getting just what’s called a DP1 or a DP3, which is a rental property policy. You might end up needing a commercial policy. It depends what your state requires.

[00:18:17] I want you to know that no insurance agent sells for all insurance companies. They all sell for maybe 10 or 11. So you can shop with different agents all at the same time to see what they’re going to be able to offer you based on what your exact needs are. This one agent may not sell for any commercial carrier that might issue a policy.

[00:18:40] Carriers issue policies based on a few things, zip code, type of house, age of house, type of roof, age of roof, and maybe 20 or 30 other smaller things based on the structure. Number one, do they issue in your zip code? A lot of them don’t. There are plenty of carriers that don’t issue in my zip code in South Florida right now. So what are your options? That’s what you have to figure out.

[00:19:07] Sarah: Awesome. You came into our membership group, and you talked to our members in there, our hosts. What are some good questions that hosts have been asking you about their coverage that our listeners could benefit from?

[00:19:22] Gwynne: Well, nobody knows how to read a policy. You have four sections in a policy. You have dwelling. Sometimes that’s called coverage aid dwelling. That dollar figure applies to damages to your property and everything attached to it. Coverage B, or called coverage B other structures is everything detached from your property, which is shed, fence, pool house, gazebo, detached deck, detached garage. Is that figure an adequate figure to cover damages to those things?

[00:19:55] Coverage C is contents or personal property. That’s everything movable in your home that’s inside your home, outside your home, including your appliances. So your furniture as a short-term rental host, all the furniture and the things that you have outside. Coverage D is called additional living expenses or loss of use, or something similar, or loss of rent.

[00:20:20] So what is that dollar figure for when your home is uninhabitable and you can’t rent it out? Know what those four numbers are and see if that’s enough. If you don’t have any lost rent and you have something where you can’t rent your property for two months, three months longer, shorter, it doesn’t matter what the length is. You’re losing money.

[00:20:39] Find out if that number is enough for you. People are listening from all over the country. If you’re in a hurricane, tornado area, earthquake area, fire area, I’d like to recommend to you that you have at least 12 months of lost rent. If that insurance company won’t give you 12 months, if they don’t offer it six months, what do they offer?

[00:21:01] Find out what that number is and see if you’re comfortable with it. And ask your agent. And remember, ask in writing. For this policy, what documentation does the carrier need in order for me to get paid on lost rent? It might be an average of the last three months of your income, six months, a year. I don’t know. Find out what it is, and don’t take that answer by phone call.

[00:21:26] Annette: I I love that hot tip of everything in the email. Gwynne, right now, I’m like, you better believe when we hang up this call, I am looking for this public adjuster. My first lean into this relationship with this public adjuster, would they gladly review– Sarah and I have a property together.

[00:21:46] Could I ask them to review our current policy? Is that a way to start that relationship? And is there a fee involved with that? How could I meet this person and have them start to become familiar with me and my property?

[00:22:00] Gwynne: There is no fee for that, and that’s the law. And yes, you can ask them if they’ll do that. You can do it over the phone, see how they respond. You can meet with them in person. Go to these meetups, and you can send it to me, and I’ll tell you what your policy says, and then you can compare with what somebody in your area says to see if you get the full scope of the information.

[00:22:22] Sarah: Okay. What if a public adjuster reviews our policy and they’re like, this is not great. You don’t have this. You don’t have this. This stinks. My next question naturally will be like, is there an insurance company that you think would be good for my property? Can a public adjuster advise on different insurance companies to reach out to?

[00:22:40] Gwynne: Yes, and you would reach out to them through your agent. You cannot call an insurance company directly and say, will you insure me? If your agent doesn’t write for, that’s the term, that carrier, you can find another agent that does. You don’t have to wait for renewal to change insurance companies.

[00:23:00] And if you prepaid, you should get that money back. It might be a better idea for you to see where you’re good and where you’re lacking. I don’t think you’re going to get everything you need in any one policy anywhere. So you just have to figure out where your shortcomings are, where you’re good with.

[00:23:18] You want to see if you have any water caps, um, and you want to see if you have any water exclusions. So let’s see if that public adjuster shows you where that is and what that is. And if they they go through coverage A, B, C, and D with you and say, that’s a good amount, that’s not a good amount.

[00:23:34] If they ask you what your other structures are, that’s a perfect way to do it, and there’s no fee. The only time we get paid as a public adjuster is when you’ve signed our contract and we’re working on a claim.

[00:23:49] Sarah: Let’s say the insurance company says, sure, we’ll pay you $10,000 for whatever it is. I’m like, I think I’m owed more. I hire a public adjuster, and at the end of the day, all we’re getting is the $10,000. Does the public adjuster still take 20% for that work discovering whether or not there’s more money to be had?

[00:24:07] Gwynne: No. A public adjuster will only take a percentage of what they get for you going forward. I recommend that you get a public adjuster from the beginning because you’re going to get your money faster. The claim’s going to get settled faster.

[00:24:19] I don’t know what the timeframe is in your state or anybody in the country, but in Florida, they have two months to make a determination as to whether this is a viable claim or not, whether you’re going to get paid or not. So now you’re two months waiting to see what they’re to say. So you’ve got the damages for two months. Because I’m a public adjuster, I recommend getting a PA from the beginning.

[00:24:44] Sarah: When I have a claim, should I have my agent submit the claim for me?

[00:24:50] Gwynne: Absolutely not. Agents make mistakes, and they shouldn’t be involved in your claim at all. They’re not licensed to deal with claims. It’s a violation of the UPPA law. Contractors are not licensed to negotiate on claims or deal with claims either. Contractors can send their estimate in.

[00:25:08] That’s a mistake on your part. Don’t let a contractor do that. The UPPA law means the unlicensed practice of public adjusting, and an agent can make a mistake. I’ve come across an instance where an agent filed a claim for somebody and they said it’s the wrong date of loss. That claim got correctly denied.

[00:25:28] Now there’s a denial in that person’s history, and they had to file a new claim with the correct date of loss. You should not call your agent and ask your agent if such and such is a viable claim or not. They’re not coming out to look at it. They don’t know where all these– they’ve never worked a claim.

[00:25:46] I don’t sell insurance. I don’t know anything about that. I can tell you a few parameters. I can tell you in some guidance on the carriers, but I don’t know how you would get and qualify for insurance. So don’t involve your agent. And if you ever in the past called your agent and said, I had this happen, is it a claim? And they right off the bat said, no, that’s not a claim. Don’t call it in. You want to question whose side the agent is on? Maybe not yours.

[00:26:15] Annette: I want you to talk us through a situation. So let’s say something happened while we had a guest in the home. Maybe a pipe did burst and the guest is there and we have reservations coming in after this guest leaves, and it’s water damage. But we cleaned it up. Maybe it was only in one room, and we just shut the door off there and we continue to have guests stay in the home.

[00:26:37] Would the insurance company look at that like you should have completely shut down? When do we know when it’s time to close our doors versus leave them open? Because I don’t want to leave ourselves like, well, you continue to run your business. You continue to have guests, so this claim is void.

[00:26:54] Is there something like that that could happen since we are hosting? And we’re playing that balance of like, we don’t want to cancel reservations because that’s like– we don’t ever want to cancel reservations, but we also don’t want our claim to get denied because we still had guests staying in the home. How should we handle something like that?

[00:27:10] Gwynne: They will never deny your claim based on the fact that you continue to have guests in the home. But the first step you should do with exactly the scenario is as follows. Number one, you had a pipe leak. You need to call in a plumber to determine the location of the leak and even do a temporary repair to the leak.

[00:27:31] So if you don’t see the location of the leak, the plumber has to do a scope with a little camera to find the exact location of the leak. You are going to want to get a plumber diagnostic, not just an invoice that shows what they repaired, but a description of what happened, where the leak was.

[00:27:51] And you also want the video because you’re going to need that. At the same exact time, you’re calling in your public adjuster to determine what kind of property damage happened and if this is something that you should file a claim for or not. It’s going to depend how much floor damage you have, how much cabinet damage you have, where the leak was, whether you have a water cap, whether you have a water exclusion.

[00:28:16] They’re going to look at your policy and tell you. Let’s say you have some floor damage or cabinet damage, and this is a viable claim. When you have cabinet damage, something comes into play called matching. Even if you have a little bit of cabinet damage, the insurance company’s going to want to say, okay, we can replace this one box or this one door.

[00:28:36] But the law says it doesn’t match with the rest of it. So a public adjuster will put in full lower cabinets, full upper cabinets, because everything has to match, full island, and the cabinet, countertops because they’re going to say, okay, the cabinet people are probably going to break the countertops. So now you’re getting a new kitchen.

[00:28:57] Do you need to stop, having guests while you’re waiting for the claim to unfold? No, you don’t necessarily, but I still want to say it depends. Did your floors get damaged? Are they going to buckle? Are the tiles going to pop at some point? Is it going to be wavy? It might at some point.

[00:29:17] So the next exact step, when you bring in your plumber, when you bring in your public adjuster, exactly at the same time, you’re going to bring in your restoration company, and that’s who you need to figure out who you’re going to use as well. A restoration company, there’s a few things they’re going to do, and there’s a few things that I want you to have for your checklist.

[00:29:40] Let me start with the checklist. You want to use a restoration company that direct bills to insurance. You pay nothing. They do the work. They bill it to insurance. They get paid directly from insurance. You want to ask, do you ever put a lien on a property? The answer must be no.

[00:29:59] You cannot use a restoration company that says, well, not initially, but we do if the insurance company doesn’t pay. No, you’re not using them. You also want to ask them, how many days do you keep your dryers in there? They’re going to be dehumidifiers, dehus, air scrubbers, which pull mold spores out of the air, and air movers.

[00:30:17] The answer should be five, six, maybe seven days. Anything more, if they say it depends, no, you’re not using them. You also want to use a restoration company optimally that can do the rebuild. So those are the things, your markers, that you want to tick off. When you call a restoration company and you’re already going to have one lined up, because you’ve already asked those questions and you’ve got them in your pocket, the first thing they’re going to do is come in with what’s called a moisture meter reader and a thermal camera.

[00:30:50] I work for a restoration company. I’ve got these tools. They’re going to measure the moisture level, and they’re going to look for things behind walls and under floors that you can’t see to see how much water’s there because if it’s not taken care of, mold can form in 24 hours under optimal conditions.

[00:31:08] Now, one of my colleagues in one of my investor groups just sent me pictures of her ceiling completely covered in mold that none of her Airbnb guests ever noticed until now. How was your entire ceiling covered in mold and nobody noticed it and your cleaning people didn’t see it? So now we went over there, we looked at it, and it’s not a claim because it’s from the humidity from the bathroom that didn’t have a vent.

[00:31:32] So it’s not a claim. So thank God you didn’t call the insurance company and ask them, because even inquiries count against you when you call your insurance company. So they’re going to come in with the moisture meter readers. They’re going to check to see if there’s anything under the floor, over the ceiling.

[00:31:47] They’re going to know if they should bring machines in or not. And then the next step is called tear out. And a restoration company can also do the tear out and bill it to insurance. And you want to do it that way because you don’t want to pay the contractor to do that. You want the restoration company to do that.

[00:32:05] Annette: I want to slow down for a second. You said something about not calling and even asking your insurance company because that’ll be held against you. What does that mean? Because I would think, I want to call my insurance company and ask them, hey, this situation occurred, but now you have me scared that we don’t want to do that. Why is that?

[00:32:24] Gwynne: The reason why is because they’ve set everything up so that everything is a trick. In my conjecture, the things that people call in most commonly about are the things that are not paid out or they are a trick set up in the policy. For example, when you have a pipe leak, the pipe itself is not covered.

[00:32:45] So when you call in, it’s the things that got damaged from the leak that are the part of the claim. So when you call in and say, I have a pipe leak, they can legitimately say back to you, pipes aren’t covered. Not a claim. Goodbye. And your head is spinning, and you don’t know what happened.

[00:33:00] Another example is power surge. They might ask you a leading question. Did you have a power surge? I had a client that had a very expensive stereo system. And they were sending a special person out just to look at that. So I was there for that. And I had told her, the thing is you are not an electrician. You don’t know whether you had a power surge or not. So your answer is no, or I don’t know, because you actually don’t know. This is not the time to be helpful because power surges are not covered.

[00:33:31] So it’s a leading question, did you have a power surge? This is not the time to be helpful or to think you’re being helpful. Another one is you never want to call in and say, I have a flood. Water on your floor from a pipe leak is not a flood. That’s that rising water thing I talked about earlier. You have to say the right terms, or you’re going to get denied or misconstrued.

[00:33:54] And the last thing you don’t want to say is, I have mold. Mold is covered, and I was just about to get to that in the next step of the restoration process. But mold is covered when it’s caused by a covered peril, which is a storm, a hail, lightning, fire, smoke, or the water damages that I talked about earlier, the drain backups.

[00:34:17] So don’t say anything about the mold. The mold gets taken care of and paid for and billed to insurance. You stay out of it. So that’s what I mean by you don’t want to call the insurance company and ask them any questions. You have a claims and inquiries history.

[00:34:33] It’s called the CLUE report, and they register everything you call in and ask them, all the claims you call in, and your premiums are not dictated by the number of claims that you’ve had in the past, and your premiums do not go up by the claims that you’ve had in the past, like it does with auto, but it all goes in.

[00:34:53] So if you switch insurance, a new carrier might look at that and say, oh, they’ve called in and made about 15 inquiries. They’re too high risk. We’re not going to take them. No. Like that. You want to make sure everything is streamlined and strategic and exactly the way it should be.

[00:35:13] There’s a way to do this. You’ve got to integrate your public adjuster with your restoration company. You’ve got to get your money, and you’ve got to sit back and let everybody do their job. So the steps for a restoration company are dry out, tear out, the mold remediation. And a restoration company might be able to do a tarp for you also.

[00:35:33] I want everybody to be aware that you don’t have to sign anything under duress with a roofer that knocks on your door after a storm and says, I’ll do your tarp for free if you sign right here, right now. And we get the roof. You don’t have to do that. And I suggest you not sign with a contractor until you have the money. Plenty of time. There’s plenty of contractors out there, but you do want to have a relationship with a contractor because they’re– you want to make sure one of those too.

[00:36:06] Annette: I didn’t have a clue about the CLUE report. Now I’m clued in.

[00:36:09] Sarah: You’re clue– wow. Dad jokes.

[00:36:11] Annette: We talked some numbers in the beginning. It’s in my head right now, the 19,000 to, I think, 315,000. Can you give us more of that? I want to really feel the impact of having this public adjuster on our side. Give us some other real life scenarios if you have any, specifically on short-term rentals. But if not, some of those numbers just helping us like open our eyes to why we need this public adjuster on our side.

[00:36:35] Gwynne: It doesn’t matter whether it’s a short-term rental, a wood frame house, a cement block house, a multi, a shopping center. It doesn’t matter. You’re going to get underpaid on that first check. So another example is I have a client that got paid $5,000, and we got them 153,000.

[00:36:55] Another client got 120,000. It’s pretty good, but we get another 62,000. Here’s somebody who, I call them my super seniors. When they’re retired and older, they’re the most vulnerable people. My client got $1,800, and we settled the claim for $80,000. Those things are life changing for people who are under so much stress and have no way of getting those repairs done without taking out loans.

[00:37:22] I’ve been to panels where roofers say, oh, just take out an SBA loan, and then pay us now. We’ll do the roof now, and then get your money back in your claim. Don’t do it. Don’t take out an SBA loan. You don’t have to. If you live in an association, or if you have a property for short-term rental in an association, let’s say a condo building, the association is responsible for drywall out.

[00:37:50] Your policy is responsible for paint in. Paint in means paint floors, kitchen, bathroom. That’s what your policy covers. The association is responsible for drywall, roof, exterior, windows, doors, unless the covenants and bylaws say otherwise. So check them. And common areas, guardhouse, gates, pool, pool house, bridges, signage.

[00:38:14] That’s what the association’s responsible for. So if your association, your condo building has this claim, or whatever large scale loss there is, they might do an assessment for you based on the claim. They really shouldn’t have to. My whole goal with any association is that nobody comes out of pocket or any claim for that matter. Homeowner, short-term rental, multi, you don’t come out of pocket anything on a claim. That’s the goal.

[00:38:47] So an association might say, hey, we need to do these repairs. We’re assessing everybody. $10,000 each condo unit owner. And they don’t have to do that. If they had brought in a public adjuster from the beginning, the money would start flowing. As an association, you might get 30 or 40 checks before the claim settles. As a homeowner or short-term rental owner, you might get eight checks, 10 checks, 12 checks.

[00:39:14] Nothing is the same with any two claims, but the money should be coming in so that you’re not charged an assessment. And if they’re not doing that, shame on them because they should not worry about the public adjuster fee and then turn around and charge large scale fees on you and a claim when they haven’t been handling the claim right.

[00:39:35] Annette: I know there’s listeners right now, because as we’ve been talking, I know my parents had this, well, what we thought was a power surge, and we really got underpaid on that. I just had a friend who had their basement flood. What if someone is towards the end or they’ve already closed out a claims chapter in their life and they are listening to this episode just feeling a little maybe defeated. And why didn’t I know about the public adjuster? Is there a timeframe after you close a claim that you could bring a public adjuster in, if you really feel like you were done dirty and that it wasn’t fair? Can you bring someone in after the fact? Do they have any recourse right now that they could reach out to a public adjuster to help them still?

[00:40:19] Gwynne: Yes. So I’m glad you used the word close. It varies from state to state, but the states I’ve run into the statute of limitations is two years to file a claim or hire a public adjuster. So when you file a claim and get a check, that undisputed amount, that’s what it’s called that I mentioned earlier, you are going to get something from the insurance company that says the claim is closed.

[00:40:44] So let’s say that happens within a three-month timeframe. The claim is not closed. That’s the language that they use to make you think there’s nothing else you can do. It’s a roll of the dice for them. They think that at this point you’re either going to come out of pocket, or get an SBA loan, or in some cases I’ve seen people file for bankruptcy.

[00:41:03] So under the law, the claim is not closed. The reason why they do this is that, and they’re reporting back to the state how many claims they’ve adjudicated, gone through, settled, meaning paying that undisputed amount. So that’s that low number that I mentioned before where a public adjuster can turn that into, and it depends on the amount of damages.

[00:41:25] It’s not just money raining from the sky. It really depends on provable damages that they’re not old damages, that they were caused by this storm. So you in Florida and in New York, and I think also in New Jersey, you have two years to hire a public adjuster after the date of the loss. And here’s something I want everybody to know.

[00:41:49] Let’s say you had a storm and you don’t think you had any damages and 18 months, 20 months, 22 months, you have a stain on your ceiling. You have a roof leak. If it’s within the two years of that storm that the storm probably caused that roof leak, a public adjuster will get up there for free.

[00:42:09] The inspection is always free, and see if they can determine whether the damages that they’re looking at could be mapped back to that storm and then file a claim for you. And by the way, another point about what a public adjuster does is when it comes to roofs, an insurance company will always want to pay for repair, but a public adjuster will put the roof in for a full roof replacement under a statute called matching.

[00:42:34] New shingles in that area, new tiles in that area will not match the old shingles, old tiles. Shingles, hey, those granules blow off. Architectural shingles have 135 mile an hour wind resistance, but those granules still blow off, so they don’t have the same wind resistance. So when you get your new roof in your claim, when your claim settles and you get the money, you’re going to start with your repairs top down, roof, ceiling, exterior, interior, windows, doors, floors, kitchen, bathroom, in that order.

[00:43:04] But when you get your new roof done, you’re going to want to get another homeowner’s report, another homeowner’s inspection, which is going to determine that you have a new roof. And you’re going to take that report, and you’re going to email it to your agent, not directly to the insurance company.

[00:43:21] It’s your agent’s responsibility to notify your insurance company. Your premiums might come down because your premiums are determined in part by the age of your roof. So you want to get that on your record. And that really is the bottom line. I don’t hear a lot of people talking and advising homeowners to always get that. When you first bought the property, you had an inspection done so you could get insurance. This is the same inspection.

[00:43:45] Sarah: Smart. Is there anything, Gwynne, that we have not asked you that we should ask you that you want the good people, the short-term rental world to know before we say goodbye?

[00:43:55] Gwynne: There’s a process to this. I want you to know that they want you to get as emotional and stressed as possible, and you don’t have to. There’s no timeframe that this is going to be settled. It depends on the carrier, and it depends on who your public adjuster is working with. So don’t let it to you. Just take your public adjuster advice on everything.

[00:44:19] If the insurance company calls you directly, don’t even answer the most innocent-some questions. Your only answer is I’ll have my public adjuster call you. It’s all a trick. Every question they ask you is meant to pay you out less money. Don’t worry about your restoration company. And I want everybody to know that the restoration company, you want to use one that bills direct to insurance.

[00:44:42] They may even wait a year, a year and a half to get paid. They don’t get paid quickly, and they don’t get paid in full. So just let them do their work, and let them pursue their payment, and let everybody do the work for you to get your property restored to pre-loss condition. I want you to know the steps here. I want you to know that there’s a process here. I want you to know that everything is doable. It’s patience. This is a game, and I want you to know what this game is.

[00:45:11] Sarah: Gwynne, thank you so much for your time, your expertise. Did you have any other questions, Annette, before I sign off?

[00:45:16] Annette: No. I’m just like this was such a juicy, juicy episode, and I’m telling you, after coming off the heels of watching Aaron Brockovich last night, you are the Aaron Brockovich of public adjusters, I am your new fan, girl.

[00:45:29] Sarah: If they wanted to each reach out to you, Gwynne, I know that you’re open to that, so what’s the best way for anyone to reach out to you and ask you questions?

[00:45:37] Gwynne: Phone and email. I’m going to give you both. I do best by text. My voicemail says don’t leave me a voicemail. My cell number is (954) 648-9258. My email is gwynneb@wedryus.com. G-W-Y- N-N-E-B as in boy. My last name is Beatty, @W-E-D-R-Y-U-S. com.

[00:46:08] Sarah: Now, will you chat with folks who aren’t in the New York Tri-State area or Florida, or do–

[00:46:13] Gwynne: Yes.

[00:46:14] Sarah: Okay. All right.

[00:46:14] Gwynne: I talk to people all over the country. Whenever I do a podcast, I get people from all over the country. You can send me your policy. I’ll review it. I will. I will. We’ll go over it together on the phone. I’ll have you understanding your insurance coverage in 20 minutes.

[00:46:31] Sarah: Wow. What a promise. That’s incredible. We cannot thank you enough for your time, your generosity, your expertise. With that, I’m Sarah Karakaian.

[00:46:39] Annette: I am Annette Grant. And together we’re–

[00:46:41] Both Annette & Sarah: Thanks for Visiting.

[00:46:42] Sarah: Talk to you next time.