Young Construction has been Iowa’s roofing leader for over 20 years. We haven’t just been nailing roofs. We’ve been giving back growing relationships, constantly learning and building a reputation as your home, exterior experts, your home experts. This has to do with something that we both saw coming with the Derecho. A lot of people’s policies are coming to a point where they need to make a decision. And we’ve both seen the same thing. A lot of what we’re seeing is people misspeaking or not being educated to talk about a claim. People that were left behind thinking I have one year and it’s over and I’ve got to make a decision and being rushed to take a settlement, in my opinion. So, it was my idea for us to connect, and have a discussion with someone that actually knows a little bit more about the policies and what’s going on.
Yeah! My name is Kaeden Tinklenberg. I’m the president and CEO of Swift Public Adjusters, an Iowa based public adjusting firm. We’ve been around for a couple of years now, helping both residential and commercial policy holders recover from their loss.
When Derecho hit, it was complete chaos here. As many of you guys know, it was insane. That’s when we met. When this occurred, just like the homeowners, you meet hundreds of contractors, we contractors meet hundreds of adjusters. Just like you would look for a contractor that you trust. I, as a contractor also look to work with someone I trust. I’ve seen a lot of good stuff coming from Caeden to help people. Explain what a public adjuster is.
Generally speaking, there’s three types of adjusters, there’s staff or company adjusters that work for the insurance company that actually provide the policy of insurance. There are independent adjusters who work on a contract temporary basis for insurance companies. Another name for independent adjusters coming in are called red hat or catastrophe adjusters. They often are deployed following a catastrophe; as the name implies, to go in and help with the very sudden influx of claims. Both those adjusters work for the insurance company. However, on the policy holder side of things of the insured homeowner, they can hire their own adjuster and that’s called the Public Adjuster.
So, what we do as Public Adjusters is we go out, just like, any other type of adjuster would and inspect the property that the loss occurred. We document the damage. Put that damage into a format that is easily, explainable by the insurance company. We gather any other supporting documentation for the loss, whether that be an engineering report for any structural issues, to any lead or asbestos testing of the materials that are affected. Then we put all that information into an assessment of what we believe the loss is, or at least, what the cost to repair the losses and submit that to the insurance company. Generally, the proof of loss, which is a sworn document that policy holders get notarized that attest to what their losses are. In doing all of that, we fulfill the insurance obligations under the policy post-loss or post-loss obligations. The homeowner presents this to their insurance company, what they feel their claims are. And that then switches the burden to the insurance company to evaluate and investigate those claims that are made by the policy holder through us and determine whether or not the policy provides coverage, make sure that everything presented is accurate and in theory, pay the claim as they should.
Unfortunately, a lot of times after we’ve fulfilled those obligations, the insurance company, wrongfully delays, or denies or underpays that claim. We’re forced into a situation where we have to try to negotiate with the insurance company to convince them, to pay the claim as they should. Sometimes we’re successful and sometimes we’re not, when we’re not, we have to pursue other types of dispute resolution. The most common of which is in-person. Worst-case scenarios, litigation, or at least referring to legal, to lawyers, for them to attempt to negotiate is something that happens far too commonly in my opinion.
What you’re talking about is so important to a contractor. We’re not allowed to deal with policy, at least not in Iowa. So, some of you homeowners, you have to know what you can do and what you cannot do legally. You could put the homeowner in a bad situation. I’m here to provide a service to the homeowner. That’s my job. And that’s his job, essentially.
However, if you have to do something more to get your claim adjusted settled, knowing that you’re a public adjuster is in someone you can trust is critical. It’s no different than when you pick a contractor that you trust to do a quality job. You want to pick a public adjuster that you trust, that’s looking out for your best interest and not just theirs. What bothers me a little bit about people saying “it’s the end of the Derecho deadline” is that I don’t think you should ever be rushed. Not all policies are the same. Correct? Just because one insurance company has one deadline doesn’t mean that’s what’s in your policy. That’s part of the reason we did this podcast. I wanted to bring Caeden in and get some true answers out there for people that may be getting a little nervous.
To touch a little bit on that, in the state of Iowa, each insurance policy will contain certain deadlines for different activities that needs to take place throughout the lifespan of a claim. Iowa is one of the states where there aren’t any separate statutory timelines that would supersede or overrule the policy. In the state of Iowa, whatever’s in your policy generally speaking is the rule of law. What that means is whatever the deadlines, the timelines in your policy are that is what needs to be followed.
There are two main timelines that are most pertinent and what most people are discussing and which are often conflated. The first of those the statute of limitations on filing suit against their insurance company and the timeline for that is going to be found in the conditions section of your policy, the conditions section of the property coverage portion. Generally, that’s going to be somewhere around page 15 or 16 of your policy. That is a small paragraph, and it’s generally headed with something along the lines of suit against us or lawsuit against or legal action against us. It’s going to be two or three sentences that basically says in effect, no legal action may be brought against us, us being the insurance company, without the insured first fulfilling all of that. There are obligations and duties under the policy. And second, having that action be brought within a certain number of, you know, a certain timeline, which for most policies. And it’s going to be one or two years, and that’s the first deadline. The second deadline is how long you have to recover any recoverable depreciation that may be due under the policy. And the wording and policies are a little bit different on this issue. Some read that you have X number of days to notify the insurance company that you intend on recovering depreciate. Whereas other policies say you have X number of days to actually complete the work and recover that depreciation. Depending on your policy and how that reads can sort of dictate what might satisfy, satisfactory response to that issue. Those timelines are generally going to be between 180 days, up-to-at-most, the longest I’ve seen is two years on most state farm policies.
The issue with these two deadlines is that they’re often connected. Policy holders will mistakenly believe that they’re getting an extension on one of these timelines. When the insurance company is actually only extending the other timeline and insurance companies are generally very willing to extend the deadline, to recover depreciation as you know, as a contractor, that’s really important that you guys are able to have to get the work done and make sure that the policies have the time to do it right. When you do it, you get paid so you don’t have to file a lien or something like that in order to get paid. Insurance companies and their adjusters, won’t be completely, upfront and clear about which of these deadlines they’re extending. A lot of times people will say, “I need you to extend my claim. Will you grant me an extension?” And the insurance company will say, “Sure, we’ll grant you an extension on how long you have to complete your claim.” And what that really means is that’s an extension on the recoverable depreciation timeline, but not necessarily on the statute of limitations for filing suit.
What we’re anticipating is that there’s going to be a lot of policy holders out there that have been misled by insurance adjusters, misrepresenting and not just adjusters, but also other policy holders, you know, immunity, even agents. I’m not sure having that full understanding or not being specific enough or in some cases, unfortunately being intentionally misleading about what deadlines being extended and come a few months down the road here when these claims are still not resolved. All the options have been exhausted for resolving these issues and it has to go to an attorney. A lot of these insureds are going to find out that they actually didn’t secure an extension on that statute of limitations on filing suit. They’re going to be left out in the cold, both figuratively and literally, and for some the worst part financially. Exactly. You’re going to have to cover the cost. One of the questions I have is, how can a contractor work with a Public Adjuster? I have people that are able to look at the claim and if the claims fair we’ll put the homeowner back to where they need to be. Everybody’s happy. The reason for this today is because I want people to understand that, we are coming up to some deadlines here.
When this occurred you want to have not only a good contractor picked but you need a contractor that’s going to be able to work with somebody if it goes not the way you want it to go. You want to be prepared, not just somebody that can put a roof on, but somebody that can help you. That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to make people aware.
The most recent insurance bulletin said that carriers in the state of Iowa had paid out in aggregate – I believe it was 3 billion. That’s with a, B billion for the Derecho damages. Better than zero, right? So, they are doing their job. There’s no one out here that’s going to claim that insurance companies have completely dropped the ball. This is an extremely stressful event. The other thing that’s mentioned in that bulletin is that a lot of carriers have discussed with the insurance division, how difficult it’s been to get, adjusters. I think that resulted in some, desperation on the carriers part to find adjusters that were able to inspect these properties within the amount of time that they’re allotted by law to do so. What ended up happening was that, quantity of adjusters became more important than the quality of the adjusters and a lot of on unprepared and uneducated adjusters ended up being deployed. Well, the same thing happened with contractors.
A lot of contractors came here and just like the public adjusters, and when you look around now a lot of them are gone. I’m not trying to pick on people, there’s a lot of good people out there, but it’s not amazing to me at all that right now. You know, I believe you help the homeowner and, one of the reasons for this also is to educate the contractors too. One of the things that we had discussed is, how as a contractor, you not cross the line. Crossing the line of helping a homeowner, supplementing the claim versus giving legal advice, which would be horrifying, is scary.
It’s a gray continuum. It is. It always has been. My personal views on that do not necessarily match up with, what the current precedent is right at the current climate. I think the best place to go to look to get answers for that is the Iowa Insurance Division as they are the regulatory body that has just like you said, you’ll have so many of them. If you are running into issues that are to be legal. Get ahold of me, get a hold of a Caeden, reach out to us. We’d be happy to help if you still haven’t got your projects done. So, if you’re a homeowner out there right now, and you feel that your contractor or Public Adjuster, that’s not doing his job reach out to us.