Shortage Of Insurance Adjusters May Delay Claims For Hurricane Irma Victims

Image courtesy of NOAA

If your home sustained damage from Hurricane Irma, you might have to wait just to get the insurance company to look at your property to see what repairs will and won’t be covered. Why? Because there aren’t enough claims adjusters to go around right now.

Claims adjusters are the folks used by your insurer to assess damage claims. Larger insurance companies have their own staff adjusters, but smaller insurers often turn to independent adjusters. And in times of widespread calamity, insurers of all sizes will turn to third-party adjusters.

Since independent adjusters get paid on a per-job basis — and on the size of the claim — they are often traveling to areas that have been newly ravaged by disasters, working 12-plus-hour days and seeing as many homes as possible. So when Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and Louisiana, a number of adjusters from Florida went west to deal with the massive amount of post-storm claims.

Problem is, notes the Wall Street Journal, that many of those Florida-based adjusters are still out of state working on the Harvey aftermath, meaning there is a shortage of adjusters immediately available to assess Irma-related claims.

The Journal also points out that the lack of readily available independent adjusters is particularly a problem in Florida because the state’s home insurance market is heavily populated with smaller and mid-size insurers.

While homeowners might feel like their insurer is deliberately delaying sending out a claims adjuster, the reality is that the sooner an insurance company looks at a damaged property, the better it is for the insurer. If you think a home with a roof ripped open by a falling tree looks bad on day one, imagine how it looks after two weeks. Not only will that claim be more costly to the insurer, but the delay increases the likelihood that the homeowner could get litigious.

“An insurance claim isn’t a bottle of wine,” an insurance company defense attorney to the Journal.

According to the Journal, Florida insurers are in a game of tug of war, offering increased compensation to attract adjusters and get these claims sealed up now. At the same time, insurers in Texas are tugging back in an effort to hold on to the adjusters working on Harvey claims.

“Right now, anyone with a license to adjust claims can get a job and some company will try them out,” one adjuster for an independent company tells the Journal. “They’re paying more for adjusters to work Irma than they’ve ever paid insurance adjusters ever.”