Insurance adjusters who are inexperienced and do not know what they are doing can hurt insureds who just want their claim paid. Reuters ran a story on September 11, 2017, dealing with the shortage of trained and experienced insurance adjusters after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The story is titled “Insurers Ache For Qualified Inspectors After U.S. Hurricanes”.
Insurance companies were scrambling to find adjusters in Texas and Florida after hurricanes Harvey and Irma hit within two weeks of each other, causing tens of billions of dollars’ worth of property damage.
Although insurance companies maintain a number of adjusters across the U.S. year round, there is a need to redeploy staff from other areas or hire contract adjusters to fill gaps when catastrophes like Harvey and Irma hit. It is important that these adjusters get deployed quickly because payments on claims is critical to residents and business owners awaiting these insurance payments.
“The one-two punch of Harvey and Irma is no question challenging to the industry,” said Kenneth Tolson, who heads the U.S. property and casualty division of Crawford & Co, which provides claims adjusters and staff after disasters.
Texas and Florida together have more than 340,000 licensed adjusters, according to state agencies, but it was unclear precisely how many were on the ground. Insurers and industry groups said thousands were headed to affected areas from other parts of the United States.
A problem with getting some adjusters deployed was being able to access the affected areas in that the authorities were limiting access to many areas for numerous reasons.
In Florida, once Irma passed Zurich Insurance Company sent adjusters to fan out across South Florida alongside forensic accountants, building consultants and mitigation contractors.
Insurance companies found the use of drones to be helpful. The use of drones is quicker and safer than having an adjuster have to climb on top of a roof.
Novice adjusters make errors like not pulling off drywall to inspect for hidden damage, or not being familiar with software used for loss estimates, can reduce or delay insurance payments, adding to hardships residents are already facing.
The executive director of United Policyholders, a consumer advocacy group, stated “It’s a fact of life after every disaster that there’s a shortage of experienced adjusters.
The shortage is worse this time due to the fact that two hurricanes of large magnitude hit so close to each other.
The adjusters inspection is the first step in a longer, paperwork heavy process.
Few adjusters can immediately authorize payments. This is especially true when policyholders are through state agencies or the National Flood Insurance Program.