Who are the Public Insurance Adjusters at HARRIS INSURANCE SERVICES and what do they do?
We are authorities and experts on preparing, negotiating and adjusting insurance claims. We seek to maximize the amount of settlement of your claim by thoroughly preparing, filing and negotiating your insurance claim.
What degrees and expertise do the staff of HARRIS INSURANCE SERVICES possess?
Our staff holds degrees and is experienced in insurance, finance, business, engineering, accounting, construction and law. Our firm employs an on-staff attorney who is available to our clients for consultation and review of your insurance policies and claims. There is no extra charge for this service.
Is HARRIS INSURANCE SERVICES associated with any insurance companies?
No. We at HARRIS INSURANCE SERVICES are employed exclusively by our clients, business owners and home owners.
How can a HARRIS INSURANCE SERVICES public insurance adjuster help me?
You will have the advantage of our expert assistance. Such is based on a great deal of experience in handling numerous technical problems. We relieve you of the many time consuming and difficult matters involved in preparing and filing a claim. We seek to maximize your claims insuring that you receive a prompt and fair settlement.
Can I prepare my own claim?
Yes. However it stands to reason that the adjusters at HARRIS INSURANCE SERVICES who have years of experience and training can and will do so with more competence and expertise.
As your public insurance adjuster we will prepare inventories, estimates and other factual documents and "proofs of loss" required by your insurance policy. We will document and complete all the necessary details for compiling and filing the claims. This is required by the terms of your insurance policies. As your public insurance adjuster we will also confer, on your behalf, with insurance company representatives and handle all matters essential to a proper and satisfactory settlement.
Why do I need help in filing an insurance claim?
The typical fire policy contains hundreds of provisions, stipulations and riders. These are always changing. Most people do not know or understand these policy provisions. Most do not realize that the burden of proof is on them, the policy holder, to establish what is due to them from the insurance company. In fact, many representatives from the insurance companies prefer to work with our experienced staff rather than an inexperienced insured.
We at HARRIS INSURANCE SERVICES not only have the confidence of our clients, but also that of the insurance company adjusters who recognize that we are professionals.
Will my insurance company pay for all the damage from the fire or other disaster insurance related claim?
This depends on the terms of the insurance policy. It also depends on your expertise or the expertise of your representative, not that of the insurance company's adjuster. Many insurance policies pay more than the amount shown on the declaration page. The qualified experts at HARRIS INSURANCE SERVICES will determine everything to which you are entitled.
Why should I hire HARRIS INSURANCE SERVICES to obtain what is rightfully due to me?
The insurance company adjuster will offer to pay what he views is due to you. That adjuster is employed by the insurance company. Remember, professionals can disagree on the cost and the extent of damage to property. We, as your exclusive representatives, will almost certainly view the damage as being higher than what the insurance company adjuster will. It's simple. They are obligated to their employer, the insurance company. We are obligated to you, our client. With our experience and knowledge we will secure a more favorable settlement for you.
What is HARRIS INSURANCE SERVICES responsibility in settling the claims on my behalf?
As your public insurance adjuster we complete every phase of preparing, presenting and negotiating your claim, as well as accomplishing an adjustment for you which is equitable and fair. It will include everything to which you are entitled under your insurance policy.
How is the actual loss and money due to me determined?
Among other things we begin by
Taking a physical inventory of all the personal property destroyed and
Preparing an on the site field scope of the damage to the building
These are both then entered into a computer program whish renders a detailed estimate based on current market prices. For example, on the building claim the prices for labor and materials are calculated on those in the Chicagoland area NOT THE NATIONAL AVERAGE, which is less. Thereafter we review your policy of insurance to make sure all provisions in your policy are properly fulfilled. This involves numerous steps of which you may know little or nothing, but can make a significant difference in the amount of the final settlement and payment to you. These estimates or scopes of damage as they are called in the industry are then fully reviewed with you and upon your approval forwarded to the insurance company as a demand for payment and settlement of your respective claims.
What special help can the state licensed insurance adjuster at HARRIS INSURANCE SERVICES give me with technical questions?
We are the experts to turn to when such matters arise. We are concerned only with your interests. Because of our broad experience and specialized knowledge, we prepare your claims seeking to obtain monies to the fullest extent. It is up to you to prove your loss. There may be many questions and problems as to how the policy provisions can be applied in different circumstances. That is where we come in.
Are the Public Insurance Adjusters at HARRIS INSURANCE SERVICES trained professionals?
Yes. We are licensed, bonded and tested by the Illinois Department of Insurance. Our profession is also guided and enforced under the statures of the State of Illinois. When you employ us you may do so with confidence that your claims will be negotiated, prepared and settled by fully qualified professionals.
Will a Public Insurance Adjuster at HARRIS INSURANCE SERVICES help me receive a more prompt and satisfactory settlement?
Yes. They lose no time in complying with the policy requirements to obtain and evaluate the facts and prepare the claim. The alert, knowledgeable and prompt service they render often preserves evidence that may otherwise be overlooked or destroyed. The more thoroughly and completely your claim is compiled and prepared, the faster your public insurance adjuster can accomplish an equitable and proper settlement in your best interest.
Once a policy holder has witnesses the skill and knowledge of the accredited public insurance adjuster, he or she rarely will attempt to settle a claim without the benefit of their specialized assistance. The public insurance adjuster's most frequent sources of new clients are from the recommendations of those they have previously served.
You must always remember that the policy holder is in control of the claim. It is your responsibility to prepare, support, and negotiate the claim. But ultimately both you and your insurance company must agree. This is where we, as professionals, can make a difference for you.
What organizations does HARRIS INSURANCE SERVICES belong to?
We are members in good standing with the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.
In the event of a loss what steps should I take?
Promptly report the loss to the agent or broker, or directly to the insurance company and then immediately retain the services of an accredited Public Insurance Adjuster to represent you.
Do public insurance adjusters take care of claims other than fire?
Yes. They will assist you in any claims you may have due to windstorm, explosion, and any other insured losses that are sustained (inland marine, business interruption, rental income, improvements and betterments, commission and profit, reporting forms, additional expense, etc.)
Do they sell insurance or act as insurance agents?
No. If they were to do so, they would become a representative of the insurance company and they would no longer represent you exclusively and independently.
If I have a problem or a complaint concerning an adjuster or an insurance company what should I do?
State Insurance Departments license insurance companies, brokers, agents and adjusters to operate in their state. If you feel that one of these licensees has failed to act in accordance with your contract or state insurance law and regulation, we urge you to contact your state insurance department in writing, setting forth the nature of your complaint.
What if I have a question about insurance coverage or the insurance industry?
State insurance departments are also the appropriate place to contact for information about licensees, insurance law and regulation.
Can I prepare the insurance claims?
Certainly. But it may not be in your best interest to do so. Home and business owners are usually not completely familiar with the terms and conditions of their insurance policies or with their rights and obligations in the event of a loss. If you've never handled a claim, there is a substantial risk of having to learn from your own mistakes.
Doesn't the insurance company have to prepare my claim?
Sometimes loss victims turn to the insurance company's adjusters for guidance, but remember, they work for the insurance company not you. Once the preliminaries are over, you are ultimately responsible for measuring your claim. A policy review should take place and a claim preparation strategy formulated. You should know your duties and responsibilities. But the real answer to this question is whether or not you are comfortable negotiating with the insurance company adjuster and do you have the expertise to evaluate the validity of their advice? Do you have the time? Might your time be better used elsewhere? Are you willing to accept the insurance company's work and belief of the claims work as accurate and fair? Remember, the claims adjuster who represents your insurance company is employed by the insurance company and, as in many industries, must constantly prove their worth to the employer. It is common for professionals to disagree on the extent and monies due under a claim. Working for you, HARRIS INSURANCE SERVICES seeks to maximize the claims for your benefit.
What if the insurance company brings in a contractor to prepare the damage estimate and recommends them to do the actual work? Can't I just use their estimate?
You can, but there is a great deal of subjectivity in defining the scope of damages. The question in this situation is who is the contractor going to try to keep happy and serve, the insurance company who gives him repeat business and who is responsible for his livelihood or the homeowner for whom he will do one job? While a contractor may be able to estimate the cost to rebuild, there may be many decisions regarding simply repainting repair vs. total replacement that will effect the property claim. Keep in mind that the measurement of the physical damage and the extent to which such should be completely removed and replaced is only one aspect of the claim. Again, you can choose to rely upon the contractor's estimate of the building damage, but remember that the contractor is hired by the insurance company to protect them from over-paying. In order to protect your interests you need an expert who works for you, measuring, calculating and assembling a comprehensive and fully integrated claims package. That is why we only serve you, the home or business owner.
Does HARRIS INSURANCE SERVICES adjust claims for business owners also?
As professional loss consultants, we can shoulder partial or full responsibility for preparing a claim at a time of great stress and turmoil for you and your family. We ease the burden of recovering from a disaster by handling any phase of the preparation and presentation of the claim, allowing the company's management to devote full attention to the ongoing operation of its business.
Why am I having a hard time understanding the clauses and language of the insurance policy? Are they all this complicated?
You are not alone! The reality is that most property owners are not completely familiar with the terms and conditions of their insurance policies or with their rights and obligations in the event of a loss. A comprehensive understanding of the language and endorsements in a policy, and how to respond following a loss, can only be gained through knowledge and experience on a daily basis. The Adjusters at HARRIS INSURANCE SERVICES are tested on such and have that experience.
Will my recovery make up the cost of your fees?
How much is it worth to have expert advice at the beginning of a claim? What is it worth to avoid unnecessary mistakes that could cost both time and money? The fee for professional consultants usually represents a small percentage of the claim settlement and is generally offset by a better settlement than you would be able to obtain without assistance.
Doesn't the insurance policy guarantee the I will receive a fair settlement in a timely fashion?
After you have suffered a loss, the insurance company can be expected to respond as quickly as possible-after all, they need to protect their interests. However, whether or not you receive a fair and timely settlement is incumbent upon you. The insurance policy sets forth the requirements of each side's obligation. Insurance companies are obligated to pay. However, it is ultimately the responsibility of the insured (property owner) to present documentation supporting the claim and therefore receive a "fair" and "timely" settlement. It is not incumbent upon the insurance company to prepare or prove the claim. The policy holder must document, prepare, support and present the claim to the insurance company. This is where we as expert Public Insurance Adjusters play a vital role.
What happens if I discover additional damage after I have settled my claim?
It is not uncommon for additional damages to surface months after the disaster. This occurs especially in situations where the claim is being handled by an untrained party. Hidden problems or undiscovered damage is a fact of life in the industry. What first looked like cosmetic damage can often disguise underlying problems that literally don't surface for months. These can amount to large numbers especially where structural damaged is concerned. The result is, what appeared to be a fair settlement from your insurance company is now woefully insufficient to restore the property. Fortunately there is help.
What happens if the town or city I live in requires me to upgrade my property?
Code upgrades are a fact of life, especially in the Chicagoland area. Some policies allow for the code upgrades to be aid for by the insurance company. As always the burden of proof is on the insured (property owner) to prove the requirement of such and the cost. HARRIS INSURANCE SERVICES reviews all policies to determine if such is covered as a general part of the policy or an endorsement to the policy. By doing such we have saved owners hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years.
Do I need to hire an attorney?
Not in the usual loss situation. Public Insurance Adjusters at HARRIS INSURANCE SERVICES are tested and bonded by the Illinois Department of Insurance. Moreover, two of the staff members are also licensed practicing attorneys who are available for consultation should the need arise. No other company in our industry in the Chicagoland area has attorneys on staff for the benefit of their clients.
What should I do if I have a disaster?
The following is a list of several guidelines. Remember that each situation is unique. Please consider calling upon us for free, no-obligation consultation. The information you receive is invaluable whether you decide to retain us or go it on your own:
Mitigate your loss and protect your property from further damage.
Move quickly to protect special property such as books, manuscripts, etc.
Control access to the premises.
Establish a claim management team, with one spokesperson.
Have an initial policy analysis and claim strategy prepared and make sure all team members understand it.
Set up a post-loss plan to protect your operations and market and notify your customers, banks and suppliers.
Prepare a public relations program to inform all stakeholders and the general public.
Know the players, including who the adjusters representatives are.
Know your brokers role.
Understand your duties and requirements.
Document your activities in a log.
Take a proactive position-you must make a claim.
Make the decisions that are bets for the survival of your organization.
Integrate the claim management program with the post-loss operations.
Concentrate on maintaining your operations and not on preparing claim details-leave that to the experts.
Hire your own experts.
Do not rely solely on your historical record-secure replacement estimates.
Coordinate the property, business interruption and extra-expense claims.
Understand that your claim will have to be verified.
Understand the negotiation process.
What are some of the requirements according to the insurance policy?
Insurance companies require policy holders to prepare an inventory of damaged property showing quantity, description, actual cash value and amount of loss, then justify that inventory.
The insurance company will pay the lesser of the following three amounts:
the limit of liability under this policy applying to the building;
the replacement cost of the damaged part of the building for equivalent construction and use on the same premises; or
the amount actually and necessarily spent to repair or replace the damaged building.
The insurance companies require the policyholder to adhere to strict obligations.
You, as the insured, must protect property from further damage.
Failing to do so will put the amount of your claim into serious question.
Insurance companies require a signed "proof of loss" within 60 days of their request for it.
Claimants must have a detailed inventory of all damaged personal property.
Insurance companies require accurate records of all repair expenses.
All repair expenses must be considered both reasonable and necessary.
It is not the responsibility of the insurance company to disprove that an item was damaged or lost-it is up to you to justify the loss.
HARRIS INSURANCE SERVICES is a "two phase" company. The following commonly asked questions pertain to this "two phase" concept:
What is meant by the term "TWO PHASE COMPANY" and what are the two phases?
The "first phase" of our company is the settlement procedure. This involves the preparation, negotiation and settlement of all claims covered under the policy of insurance. Before accepting any settlements from the insurance company the staff at HARRIS INSURANCE SERVICES review all policies of insurance thereby confirming that all claims have been maximized to the clients benefit. There are in fact numerous clauses contained within a policy of insurance which can either increase or decrease the recoverable amount. Our fee is paid from insurance proceeds and there is no out of pocket expenses.
The "second phase" of our company is "the restoration process". the repair to the damaged property. Upon a settlement of the building claim our company begins construction immediately. In other words, we do not wait for for the insurance company to issue settlement checks which sometimes can take months from the date of a fire. As always, when HARRIS INSURANCE SERVICES is retained to perform the repairs there is no building adjusting fee and all work is done for the amount agreed upon by the insurance company and the insured. Again, there is no out of pocket expenses.
How much do we charge for phase one, the adjusting service?
We charge a small percentage of the insurance company's settlement with you. Usually between 7% and 10%. This fee is waived if we are allowed to repair the building which is explained in the second phase.
How am I charged if I allow HARRIS INSURANCE SERVICES to repair the property, phase two.
When HARRIS INSURANCE SERVICES is hired to repair the property we are paid the insurance building settlement with no out of pocket expenses to the home owner. The adjustment fee for adjusting the building claim is waived. In other words once we are hired by the owner to do the repairs we do such in exchange for the settlement agreed to between you the insured and the insurance company and of course there is no fee for doing the adjusting of that claim.
How soon will repairs begin?
Upon a verbal settlement from the insurance company and upon your approval, we begin the repairs. We do not wait for the insurance company adjuster to issue the check and forward it to the mortgage company. In other words we start right away so you will be back in your home as soon as possible.
How are the payments issued for the repairs?
In most circumstances we are paid in thirds. One week after the job is started we receive the first payment. Upon the completion of the drywall we receive the second payment. After completion of the repairs and inspection by your mortgage company we are paid the final third.
Why does the building settlement check have the mortgage company on it and why do they hold the money?
If there is a mortgage on the property by law the insurance company is required to name your mortgage company as a payee on the building settlement check only. They are not named on other settlement claim checks such as personal property and additional living expenses. The reason they are named is that they want to confirm that you are going to repair the property and restore the collateral that guarantees your loan from them to you.
What guarantees do I have that you will do a good job?
We have the backing of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau and the clients we have served in the past. We guarantee that the work will be done according to standard fire repair practices, that such will be done in a timely manner and that your property upon completion will be free from the smell of smoke. Further, while repairs are on going, inspections to the property will be made by your mortgage company and local government.
Who handles all the permits and paperwork with the local municipalities and their inspectors?
We prepare all the paperwork from the very beginning to the very end of the project. Thais includes all documents such as tax and demos, permits, drawings, work orders and plans. We schedule all appointments with the inspectors from the mortgage company and the local government. Of course the property owner is always welcome but usually it is not necessary for him or her to be present.
Who chooses the materials such as carpet, bathroom and kitchen fixtures, paint, etc.?
Property owners choose these items. We understand that this is your property and that everyone's taste is different. We want your property to reflect your taste not ours. Insurance policies allow for replacement with like kind and quality and that is what is used. No inferior products are ever used.
What happens if the job takes too long?
When moving forward with the repair project it is discussed and negotiated with the insurance company as to how long the job will take. If there is a delay because of out of stock items the insurance company pays to extend the time period. HARRIS INSURANCE SERVICES provides an "on time" guarantee. This means that if we fail to complete the job in a reasonable amount of time we cover the expense.
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