Why Public Adjusters Are Not Enemies of Independent Agents

By Ronald R. Reitz, CPPA | March 8, 2010

  • March 8, 2010 at 1:03 am
    nancy says:
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    there were at least ten posts here earlier today? what happened? why did they all get deleted?

  • March 8, 2010 at 8:47 am
    Mr. Solvent says:
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    No one has positive things to say about the public adjuster scam. That’s probably where the comments went. Opening claims years after led to the demise of at least 1 insurer that otherwise could have made it. I don’t want to hear about how the public adjuster is my friend. Lies.

  • March 8, 2010 at 8:58 am
    Newsie says:
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    Right after a big snow storm here in Philly recently, a reporter was speaking to a public adjuster who was advising everyone who had storm damage that the first thing they should do after protecting their property as well as they could was to CALL A PUBLIC ADJUSTER. He went on and on, singing the praises of public adjusters. Man, did I see red! I sent the station a fired-up comment but they never responded.

  • March 8, 2010 at 10:40 am
    Harry says:
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    This commentary originally ran on claimsjournal.com, which is where the previous comments are

    http://www.claimsjournal.com/news/national/2010/03/05/107917.htm

  • March 8, 2010 at 10:40 am
    Harry says:
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    This commentary originally ran on claimsjournal.com, which is where the previous comments are

    http://www.claimsjournal.com/news/national/2010/03/05/107917.htm

  • March 8, 2010 at 11:56 am
    Marsha Brown says:
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    This “article” is shown as “commentary.” Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to label it “advertisement”, charge a fee to run it and put it in the margin where it belongs?

  • March 8, 2010 at 12:49 pm
    Derek says:
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    I am now an IA. Before I got into the business, I had a drunk driver drive INTO my kitchen. It was a disaster. Water everywhere. Broken glass. Huge hole in my kitchen wall. My insurance company at the time, Farmers, wanted to settle with us for @$15,000 (as the driver had VERY low limits, a whole other issue). The repairs ended up costing over $40,000. If it were not for the public adjuster, we would have been SCREWED bad by Farmers. Don’t be too quick to lump them all together and bash them. There really are PA’s out there trying TO HELP PEOPLE. Of course, there are those trying to rip people off. Just do your homework on who to hire, and you should be fine.

  • March 8, 2010 at 1:05 am
    adjusterjoe says:
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    They may not all be crooked. I just have never run across one that was not in my almost 30 years. I do not know any company adjusters or IA that have ever found an honest PA either.

  • March 8, 2010 at 1:15 am
    Broker begged me... says:
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    A few years ago, I wrote a warehouse, storage of furniture. There was a sprinkler leakage claim and the insured went to a PA. The insured kept calling and calling my broker for info. on the claim (PA was dodging him) and she kept calling me, frantic. I couldn’t get any info. for her due to the insured signing on with a PA. I finally cajoled the claim rep. to tell me there was an $81,000 reserve on the claim.
    The insured totally flipped, telling the broker the damage was only about $25,000.

    Needless to say, the insured had to wait for a very long time to get the claim paid.

  • March 8, 2010 at 1:15 am
    southern adjuster says:
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    First, I don’t ever remember seeing this on ClaimsJournal….but may have just missed it.

    Second…I agree…this amounts to no more than free advertisement.

    Third, as a Claims Manager I have to say I have never had a good experience with a Public Adjuster. Working Hurricane Ike brought out the ineffeciencies of some of these people. For example: one company sent me a letter for extension of time under the replacement cost provisions for people that never even signed up with them. This caused my department time to call the insured and the PA to confirm they only spoke with the insured but were never really hired.

    In contradiction to what is written by this public adjusting firm, let me say that the majority of my claims are handled amicably. We have very few instances in which the insured is in contention with how the policy is interpreted and limits applied.

    Also a very important missed point is the insured is my customer and the retail agents customer…not the public adjuster’s customer. Therefore the agent and I have a common vested interest in serving and satisfying that customer and we don’t charge a dime for that.

    On a recent large water loss I had an insured tell me her neighbor told her she needed a public adjuster. When questioned as to why, her response was she was not sure. I simply explained that we would adjust the claim, attempt to resolve any differences if there were any and if we could not resolve those differences then maybe she should consult with a public adjuster. The claim was handled to her satisfaction with no differences whatsoever.

    Stop tooting your horn! Actually is’t more like just blowing hot air than anything else. You seem to have left out a very important detail for those agents….you charge the insured a pretty chunk of their claim for your services…just like a lawyer.

    Shame on you ClaimsJournal and Insurance Journal for even allowing this in the “news” section.

  • March 8, 2010 at 1:16 am
    right-on says:
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    In the same way that the insured becomes underinsured as a result of using an agent/broker who has no konwledge (being a licensed P&C agent does not qualify 80% of those who hold themselves to be qualified professionals) many people can find themselves in the hand of incompetent public adjuster because most insureds simply do not know any better. After a loss there is no better person to have on your side than a competent PA because the insurance company is always looking to minimze their payout… and so many times a claims rep or insurance co adjuster doesn’t have the konwledge of the PA therefore not fully knowing what’s available to the insured by way of coverage. Keep in mind that policy coverage and exclusions aren’t simply “listed” for you in the “what’s covered” and “exclusions” section of the policy… that would be all too easy! I recommend that my insureds align themselves with a PA prior to having a loss because if you have to choose one after a loss… good luck being able to sort through the bozos, and the insurance company attorneys and adjusters will probably have you cornered into making a comment that will barr coverage… and now you’ll need an attorney.

  • March 8, 2010 at 1:33 am
    Bill says:
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    This reads like a puff piece written by a PR consultant at the behest of a Public Adjusting trade group

  • March 8, 2010 at 1:39 am
    LAURA RODRIGUEZ says:
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    So tell me Mr. PA Man….if the insured has a co-insurance penalty, how do you get around that? Try to inflate your estimate? Right?

    Love the “so many times a claims rep or insurance adjuster does not have the same knowledge as a PA”…get over yourself…
    My response to that would be if your claims rep is not at least as smart as a PA then they are possibly in the wrong profession. I have yet to experience this.

    I agree with Adjusterjoe…in my 25+ years, I have never run up against a PA that I could say WOW…what a smart guy he was…and look how much good he did for that insured. I’m usually saying WOW look how long it took to settle this claim because of the PA.

  • March 8, 2010 at 1:42 am
    adjusterjoe says:
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    As was explained to me long ago when i first started as an adjuster. The insured loses every time a public adjsuter is employed. 1. If the loss is paid base upon 100% of damages, the insured comes up short the PA fee. 2. If the claim is inflated, the insured loses due to higher premiums due to a larger loss ratio both individually and as a consumer in general. 3. PA represented claims in general take 1 to 6 months longer to settle than non-PA claims. The insured has no money to be restored.

  • March 8, 2010 at 1:48 am
    Derek says:
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    Sounds like I was very lucky to run into the PA that I did. The claim was taken care of, from start to finish by him, and it was made MUCH easier having him deal with it instead of me. Farmers tried, and tried hard, to get me to settle for a very small amount. He took care of this issue for me. Thank goodness my house did not burn down, because Farmers had it rated at $120 per square foot (how is that even legal for them to do???). I understand Farmers took a hit on this claim for me, but does anyone expect me to pay out of pocket upwards of $25,000 to repair my home after a drunk driver hits it? Farmers wanted that. My PA was able to get the claim closed and fast. We were out of our home for more than 2 months, and it would have been MUCH longer had we not had the PA working for us. As I said, not all of them are lying weasels.

  • March 8, 2010 at 2:09 am
    Mr. Solvent says:
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    Adjusterjoe has it. The customer loses, the agent loses, and the only one left not losing is the public adjuster. That’s why I can’t stand them.

    Derek, I’ll take what you’re saying at face value, but you simply needed to get your agent involved. If that agent shows a cost estimator that matches your coverage amount the coinsurance game is over. I’ve had it happen a dozen or more times in my days as an agent. Sounds to me like you were way to quick to jump on the public adjuster bandwagon.

  • March 8, 2010 at 2:22 am
    Answer Man says:
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    I have had homeowners insurance for nearly 30 years and have had one claim for water (sump pump failure when power went out) in my unfinished basement. For 29 years I was insured by State Farm and had two agents. Not once in those 29 years did they ever ask to meet with me, come to my home and discuss what coverage I needed or anything. I made decisions on what valuable items needed to be individually scheduled, got my policy credit for having an alarm system and paid my premiums on time and that was it. Shame on me! Last year I switched to Fireman’s Fund because State Farm and their representative simply did not work for my business. I wish I would have come to that conclusion along time ago.

    If I have another loss, I expect that my due diligence in having a detailed inventory, records and making sure that I have appropriate coverage will be rewarded. I agree that the claim percentage paid to the PA, especially if the loss is major, is money not well spent. It is true that the agent and the adjuster work for the carrier and not you, so what options doe’s one have? For those homeowners who are looking at carriers with web based models like Geico or USAA, you better have all your documentation in order and take the initiative to do what you are told and encouraged to do.

    Insurance carriers are not in the disaster recovery business, they are in the finance business!

  • March 8, 2010 at 2:32 am
    Mr. Solvent says:
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    I have an answer for you man…the independent agent works for the insured. It’s our mission to make sure our customers are happy. A customer who is treated well during a claim is a customer for life.

    Captive agents may be a different story all together, but it’s been my experience with captives as well that they side with the customer and work hard to satisfy the customer. They’re only paid if you continue to renew your policy.

    Who wouldn’t I work with? Any of the web and phone only outfits. Who’s going to go to bat for you then?

  • March 8, 2010 at 2:58 am
    An Agent from Arizona says:
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    As a person who has done a fair amount of expert witness work and sold insurance since 1979, I would be hard pressed to find an independent insurance agent who would call a public adjuster a good situation for their client. Many claims have escalated and many errors and ommission claims could have been prevented had it not been for public adjusters. With some public adjusters they encourage lawsuits, because if it goes to a lawsuit they make more money and sometimes take a percentage of the settlement in addition to their fees. I could not disagree more with this article.

  • March 8, 2010 at 4:49 am
    Independant TX Agentman says:
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    I have to disagree with you Solvent. We as independant agents work for both the insured, but also for the companies that we represent. We work more for the companies that we represent then we do for the insureds though. Think about it, if a client comes in that is clearly a commerical risk, would you still place it on a personal auto policy? No. if you worked just for the client, you are going to do everything you can to get the price as low as possible, and most of the time, commerical risks have higher premium then personal risks. If a client is trying to commit fraud, are you going to turn a blind eye to it? I certainly don’t. Now, that being said, yes we do work for the insured as well. We are supposed to place them with the company that will work best for them. There is not one company that is “one company fits all”. We are there to recommend coverages to the insured, and to give them knowledge about insurance.

  • March 8, 2010 at 5:42 am
    theinsexpert says:
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    You let this author try to pitch the same sort to drivel to professional insurance agents that his group uses on desperate, devastated insureds under desperate circumstances. IJ and the author- you insult us. Hawk your marked cards and fairy potions elsewhere and don’t darken our internet portals.

  • March 8, 2010 at 6:07 am
    david says:
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    what a self serving article. public adjustors serve no purpose other than to inflate claims and prolong the settlement process.

  • March 9, 2010 at 8:19 am
    WCFL Agent says:
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    Between the public adjusters and attorneys specializing in sink hole claims, our homeowners market in west central Florida has been ruined. The public adjusters have only one thing on their mind, inflate the claim as much as possible and take their cut and move on to the next one. They actually are going door to door pointing out any type of crack in a home’s driveway or exterior wall etc. that may be a fraction of an inch wide and try to get the owner to open a sink hole claim. Add to that the greed of many of the homeowners who only want to stick it to the company and we will probably never have a stable private homeowners market. Hurricanes are down the list in our area for problems in maintaining sanity in the industry.

  • March 9, 2010 at 9:10 am
    steve says:
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    The DOI is paid by the insurance industry and it shows. Once in the middle of a claim the carrier dropped a client, leaving the burnt house sitting with no insurance and not able to get insurance and stalling the claim. After filing a complaint with the DOI they said, “they can’t do that” but they did and after two months the DOI said well just settle the claim for 70 thousand (when the claim was worth 100K) and they can get construction insurance. He had nothing to base his decision on, just it sounds good.

  • March 9, 2010 at 9:27 am
    steve, re insurance ind. pawns says:
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    I have read the comments from the PA article and of course I agree with its pro PA undertones, but you can tell the ones coming from the insurance industry pawns. There seems to be a trend with some companies being anti PA and vigorously fight against them I was up against one of these companies that was not taking care of the client, and that’s why I was hired in the first place.

  • March 9, 2010 at 10:17 am
    Tom Morrison says:
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    The first reason given for hiring an adjudter is in fact incorredct. Public Adjusters, unless a licensed attorney< cannot provide coverage interputation to an insured. They are specifically barred form interputing coverage by Florida law(other states as well). That is the problem with Public Adjusters they are constistantly oversteping their role which is to determine the amount of damage only>

    • February 5, 2014 at 11:26 pm
      Really? says:
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      Tom, I hate to burst your inaccurate bubble,but a Public Adjuster is specifically licensed to provide not only a fair damage evaluation but to determine coverage under the insured’s policy, an appraiser determines the amount of loss, coverage,but make no mistake, a public adjuster is licensed by the state DOI to negotiate a claim and define coverage on behalf of the insured. If you don’t know what you are talking about, please, for the sake of those seeking advice, don’t contribute.

  • March 9, 2010 at 1:43 am
    RICK TUTWILER says:
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    In response to this articles numerous comments, the fact is that there are many GREAT public adjusting firms out there who have provided a service to their clients as far back as the 1920’s. Many more have multiple generations of experience in the industry. Our professional public adjusting firm has operated for 26+ years. There are associates within our firm who have many years of experience on the carrier side. They are truly experts in their field. Many insurance companies will tell you that they like working with Tutwiler and Associates. Our understanding of the claim process has earned us the best reputation in the State of Florida notwithstanding all the work we do throughout the country. In addition, our clients are some the most well respected, highly educated, and business savvy individuals in the country. It is not uncommon for an insurance company executive/employee to tell their family or friend to hire a public adjuster following a loss. I appreciate your comments. It seems to have everyone’s interest which is great. If anyone has any questions or comments for me I welcome that opportunity and I would also be happy to share my success stories with any of you.
    http://www.PublicAdjuster.com
    “Putting Your Insurance To Work For You”

  • March 9, 2010 at 3:11 am
    steve says:
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    How many times has a PA been called in because an agent or carrier has falsely denied a claim? How many times has a comp. adjuster left out advice to a client when entitlements were due? How many times has a comp. adjuster belittle a claim or left obvious things out and make the insurer grovol for what’s due to settle? Get off your white horse.

  • March 9, 2010 at 3:43 am
    southern adjuster says:
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    Steve,

    All I can say to that is…..HUH? Sounds like you might be one of those sharp PA’s we speak of….and for the record I don’t “grovol” to anyone.

  • March 9, 2010 at 4:54 am
    Independant Agentman says:
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    Less then you might think. And if an insurer denys a claim that should be paid or under pays the client, there is always the DOI of that state that the insured can file a complaint with, and it will hurt the insurer a lot more to get the DOI involved and they find out that the insurer was in the wrong because the fines that the DOI will place on the insurer are a lot more hefty then what a PA could do.

  • March 10, 2010 at 9:05 am
    Undependant Agentman says:
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    That is one instance. The DOI gets a lot of their revenue by fines collected from insurers not adhearing to the law, and from agents not doing what they are supposed to do (CE and such). I cant tell you how many agents get fined or lose their license because they didn’t do their CE or something. I don’t buy the “DOI will turn a blind eye to it”, they get their money when insurers screw up, as to make it so that the insurers don’t screw up in the first place.

  • March 10, 2010 at 9:36 am
    Charles R "Dick " Tutwiler says:
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    My first experience with a public adjuster was when I was employed as a company adjuster many years ago. It not only worked out good for my employer (3 other adjusters in our office had tired and failed to settle this loss) but also for the insured who suffered a fire loss. The reason, the public adjuster spoke the same launague and understood the process so as to communicate the adjustment issues to our insured and his client. I was so impressed, that after being vested I resigned my postion and have been a public adjuster for over 27 years. I have never to my face been called a crook nor can I remember any client saying they did not have enough money to fix whatever it was that I was hired to represent them on. I have been hired by insurance agents, brokers, independent adjusters to name just a few in their own losses. I have been hired by Fl and several different insurance companies as an expert witness in matters over the years. In all fields there are bad actors, but the good ones and, there are a lot of them across America, can be an invaluable resource not only for the service and knowledge they provide but also for the greater financial result that they are able to achieve. You cannot survive in any market/business unless you do a good job and enjoy a good reputation.

  • March 13, 2010 at 7:38 am
    Harold says:
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    As a prior Independent Agent, Agency Owner, Staff Adjuster, Claims Manager and now a PA I can tell you that as an Independent agent or not you still work for the insurance company your paid by them your follow their guidelines. (when was the last time you said if you don’t pay this claim I going to stop writing your business) The only difference is what company you choose to place the customer with. The simple fact of the matter is that agents have little or no influence over what is paid in a claim and most of them are completely unfamiliar with the claims process other than reporting the loss. Nothing against them this is just not their area of expertise. As far the company adjuster, independent or not you get your marching orders from the carrier whether you want to admit it or not. If you are truthful with yourself and have adjusted claims for more than fifteen minutes you are told to do things by the carrier that you do not agree with but have to do because you work for them. Yes you can try to change their mind but ultimately it’s up to the carrier. It was that way when I was an adjuster and I hear it every day from the adjusters I meet on claim. There are egos on both sides of the fence here and I doubt this article or subsequent postings will resolve this but as one who has been on all sides I drank the Koolaid of the carriers for a number of years. What the adjuster calls inflating an estimate I call getting them paid what they are entitled to. What you call delay I call spending the time necessary to reach a proper settlement. Yes files we are involved in are litigated or sent to appraisal but remember the carriers appraiser, the umpire, a judge or jury had to agree on this not just us. Yes these payments substantially increase the payout but this could have as easily been accomplished if the claim was handled properly to begin with. It has been said before If the carriers and the adjusters want to put the PA out of business pay the claims fully, treat everybody like you would want to be treated and when the carrier wants you to do something that wrong or does not restore the insured fully; stand up to them and don’t be so worried about losing business from them in the future.

    If not we be Coming to a Claim near you

  • March 13, 2010 at 12:34 pm
    An Agent from Arizona says:
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    Independent Agents if you want to drink the Kool-Aid from Public Adjusters and advise your clients to use a Public Adjuster you will only do it once then you will learn what a fox is like in a hen house. PA’s love to track fires and sometimes even make contact with the fire victim (your customer)before the company adjuster has an opportunity to access the damage. Believe me when I say the ones I have dealt with are quick to blame agents and the insurance companies (often without all of the facts).

  • March 15, 2010 at 1:32 am
    Linda says:
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    We had a Public Adjuster go to one of our 80 year old lady’s homes and advise she had a sinkhole. He then did not want to deal with the insurance company, but wanted to deal with me directly as the agent to make and discuss this claim. What a loser.

  • March 15, 2010 at 4:04 am
    m & m says:
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    “It is true that the agent and the adjuster work for the carrier and not you”.
    I beg to differ with you Answer Man. We get paid by the carrier but we work for our insureds. They are the reason we’re in business.

  • March 17, 2010 at 8:29 am
    Harold says:
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    Linda an 80 year old client with a sinkhole claim; why would you not want to help the PA with her claim (your Client)?, who needs to take responsibilty here

  • March 19, 2010 at 12:32 pm
    Linda says:
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    I did turn a claim into the insurance company for our insured. After the company paid approximately $5,000 for engineering testing it was determined there was no sinkhole loss. The Public Adjuster needed to deal with our insurance company since they are the ones you handle the claim. The Public Adjuster was just trying to make a claim where there was not one, and in the process got our insured all upset thinking she may have a sinkhole.

  • March 23, 2010 at 3:18 am
    Harold says:
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    Linda I know only the facts you choose to share. I have heard it said before there are three sides to each story, yours, theirs, and the truth. Each side will put their own slant on things whether it’s their perception of what really happened or intentional. You said earlier that he tried to open a sinkhole claim but the insured did not have one and that upset the insured. I’m glad she does not live over a sinkhole but whatever his reason for suspecting the damaged to her home was caused by a sinkhole just imagine how upset the insured would be if she found herself and her home in the middle of a big hole one morning. The carrier is obligated to investigate all claims and it’s their job pay the legitimate ones that is what they are in business for. Seriously what’s the purpose of paying for coverage if you can’t use it? I can tell you as a prior P&C agent there is nothing wrong in you getting involved in the claims process but be prepared for the fallout from the carrier. In the end this is my slant on things, the only difference is that I have been on both sides of the fence.

  • April 13, 2010 at 9:05 am
    Bruce says:
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    Funny how many of the guilty get angry and start making negative accusations to try to make their oponenets look bad. Yes, oponenets…fighting on opposite sides… One for the insurance company one for the homeowner.
    In a claim situation, a homeowner would foolish to take on the insurance company (“Judge” “jury” and “prosecuting attorney”) without their own representation.
    Insurance companies wouldn’t sell Homeowners Insurance if they couldn’t make a REAL NICE profit off the homoeowner.
    Why do you think they move out of states that have catastophic losses?
    Bottom line…Because profits go down if you have to pay claims!



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