Since January of 2022, there have been numerous fires at food manufacturing plants across the country. Can We Talk About the Plant Fires? caught our attention. The recovery process for these food processors to get back to business concerns us considering the number of policyholders we assist in overcoming delays and underpayments. Decades of experience as a Public Insurance Adjuster helping owners of commercial real estate properties settle fire insurance claims inspired us to write What You Need to Know about Plant Fire Insurance Claims for Packaging Strategies.

What You Need to Know about Plant Fire Insurance Claims

In February, a boiler exploded at a Shearer’s Foods potato chip plant south of Hermiston, OR. Image courtesy of Jeff Schwenk

Insurance companies may not necessarily be in a big hurry to pay up, here’s what business owners need to know about fire insurance claims.

The number of recent food processing fires has caught national attention. Safety, food supply, and propaganda are certainly concerns, but so is the recovery process to get these food processors back to business.

Avoiding a double disaster following a fire or any other peril means getting the full benefit of your policy coverage fairly and promptly while avoiding unnecessary underpayments, delays, lawsuits, or appraisals.

Knowing your rights, remedies and having a risk management strategy in place to assist you to meet the burden of proving your claim makes all the difference in settling insurance claims fairly and properly.
While there is an implied duty for insurers to act in good faith and handle claims properly, the burden of proving claim damages is on the policyholder. Herein lies the foundation of the inherent conflict of interest built into the insurance business model.

The Adversarial Relationship Claims Create

When a policyholder pays their premiums, they are considered an asset to an insurer. However, when a policyholder has a claim, you are considered a liability. The moment a policyholder files a claim, the insurer has representatives in place to protect their interests, not the policyholders. There is an asymmetry of information. Your insurer wrote your policy and knows insurance code statutes, case law, damage, and risk models. Meanwhile, policyholders typically don’t understand their entire policy and know their rights or options available to protect their interests. Then there’s an asymmetry of power. Policyholders have no negotiating power when purchasing a policy. Insurers have the policyholder’s money, they have their terms in the policy, and their representatives in place to manage their risk of liability from policyholders with legitimate claims in need to be properly indemnified from their insurer.

This win-lose value proposition has caught the attention of the Supreme Court of Texas stating, “the insurance claim process is inherently adversarial. The adversarial process begins as soon as a claim is filed and ends only when the resolution of the claim is finally determined and accepted by the parties.” Barbara Technologies Vs. State Farm Lloyds

Insurance Claim Disputes

Insurance companies are masters at pontificating the belief that you’ll be covered under your policy. However, insurance claim disputes are a common scenario that leads to underpayments, delays, and lawsuits. It’s easy to assume that disagreements about whether or not damaged property should be repaired or replaced seem obvious but overcoming an insurer’s argument to repair damages that you believe need replacement may take more than just an opinion.

That goes for the insurer too. Insurers handle claims every day and are aware of damage related to heat, moisture, acidic gases, and combustion by-products. “For an insured (handling one claim) to level the playing field, appropriate representation is necessary for a full assessment and proving all damage” as noted by Jeff Schwenk, President, Continental Machinery Company.

Proving a claim and getting a fair settlement can be rigorous and require a precise strategy. Questioning the legitimacy of your insurer’s position, disputing items such as excessive depreciation, including overhead and profit, required building code upgrades, ordinance/law coverage, professional fees, business interruption income loss calculations, OSHA safety requirements, ADA, preparing replacement cost valuations, interpreting policy language, as well as understanding conditions and terms related to debris removal, water extraction, smoke removal and mold remediation ensuing from a fire insurance claim, are liabilities policyholders with a fire insurance claim must endure. For example, a liability many policyholders are unaware of is that if your fire suppression system is not operational, your policy may require you to hire security on-site 24/7 or you could suffer a loss of benefits.

Endorsements for Extra Expense Insurance is coverage that pays for our company’s ordinary expenses after a disruptive incident it provides cash to help your business stay operational while the property is being repaired or replaced without this financial assistance, businesses that suffer a major loss might have to close permanently.

Code enforcement officers may require code upgrades for properties that are older. Most insurance policies do not pay for code upgrades before that expense is incurred by the policyholder. Code upgrades typically have separate dollar limits from the rest of your insurance policy and can be tricky points when interpreting your policy language and benefits.

The list goes on and on. To reasonably comply with most policies associated with large loss insurance claims, policyholders endure numerous details including disputing insurer retained expert reports and asserting policyholder retained expert opinions, submitting department of insurance bulletins, evidence of damage, evidence of occurrence, 3rd party credibility, and making a reasonable demand for payment to the insurance company.

Understandably, most policyholders simply don’t know what to do or where to start. You have options, rights, and remedies to settling property damage insurance claims. The best non-litigious approach while still preserving your consumer rights is by working with a licensed, ethical public insurance adjuster on a contingency fee basis to represent your interests.

There’s a lot of risk in owning commercial real estate. Property owners’ buildings are always at risk and it’s just not right when insurance companies do not pay fairly and promptly. Many policyholders have certainly felt the urge to hire an attorney, file a lawsuit to sue their insurance company, and go through subpoenas, depositions, discovery, mediation, and court when they are convinced their insurer has acted in bad faith. What many policyholders have found is that the legal process takes a lot of time, adds stress and so much of the documentation requirements to prove up a claim in a lawsuit are included in a legitimate public adjuster’s claim submissions. Many have found the best course of action in settling a claim is to engage ethical, experienced, and non-litigious public insurance adjusters at the beginning of a claim who know how to personally and factually present evidence that supports your position, comply with policy terms, assert relevant statutory insurance codes, knows how to compel an insurer to perform fairly.

Our successful approach has helped commercial real estate property owners realize maximum insurance claim settlement results in minimum time without unnecessary litigation for over a decade. Insurance companies have experts working for them. You should too.

Best of all, there is no fee for his services if there’s no recovery. That, however, has never happened.

Insurance companies manage risk. So, if a policyholder has exposed all of the insurer’s liability in writing with supporting evidence, documentation, presented a valid argument for coverage, exhausted all reasonable and necessary efforts to avoid unnecessary litigation to settle a claim, and is still forced to sue to settle an insurance claim dispute then a claim may be ripe to consider filing complaints to the department of insurance and retain a board-certified insurance attorney.

The Advantages of Delaying a Claim

Many bad faith insurance companies not only deploy tactics to wear down policyholders but some of their defense attorneys who represent them promote that delaying claims may provide several benefits for insurers. First, they know delaying a claim puts pressure on policyholders. They know you may be dealing with mounting bills for property damage, legal fees, and medical expenses. Most people cannot afford to continue fighting insurance companies for a prolonged time. This means that most policyholders will be forced to settle for an amount favorable for the insurer by wearing down a claimant instead of continuing to negotiate with insurance companies for an extended period. In other words, they know that delaying claims forces policyholders to accept lower settlement offers.

Delaying claims can lower insurance company costs in other ways. For example, when an insurance company faces a surge of property damage claims, they can delay some of them to avoid mass payouts all at once. This limits the financial stress on insurers, shifts it to the policyholder, and allows insurers to invest funds from your paid premiums to earn interest revenue and offset some of the costs.

You wouldn’t have the IRS prepare your tax return and tell you what you owe. So why would you let your insurance company prepare your claim file for you and tell you what they’re going to pay you?

Are some insurance companies so sinister they would improperly handle any of these food plant claims to further prolong the recovery process? Hopefully not but perhaps the most shameful part of every insurance claim is that a portion of every policyholder’s premium is allocated to claims handling expenses.

This leaves some policyholders feeling they are paying insurance company adjusters to work against them as their adversaries and that’s just not right.

Scott Friedson is a public insurance adjuster and CEO of Insurance Claim Recovery Support LLC (ICRS) Contact him at 512-904-9900 or scott@insuranceclaimrecoverysupport.com

Jeff Schwenk is President of Continental Machinery Company, Inc.

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In 2019, ICRS public insurance adjusters settled a 700,000 square foot food manufacturing insurance claim that was originally denied by the insurance company in one year for millions of dollars without filing a lawsuit.

What Is A Public Insurance Adjuster And How Are They Hired?

 

SPEAKERS

Scott, Melissa, Kevin

Kevin:

Welcome back to The nationally syndicated Price Of Business Show. I’m your host, Kevin Price talking to you about you and your business. Do want to mention our newsletter read instead, it’s the best of the Price Of business digital network. Each week, we give you some of our favorite interviews, favorite content, right there for your reading convenience. We don’t daily you would make newsletters. It’s one newsletter a week, and you can find it at readinstead.com. Melissa Gordon, she is a senior editor here on the Price Of Business Show and Price Of Business digital network. She’s got an ongoing series that she’s doing and this is the next one in that series. Thanks so much, Marissa.

Melissa:

Thanks, Kevin. On today’s session, I’m so excited to visit with public insurance adjuster, Scott Friedman. We are very interested in your work as a public adjuster as are our audience. Let’s start with a brief summary of what a public adjuster is.

Scott:

Sure, thanks, Marisa. A public adjuster is a licensed adjuster who solely represents the interests of policyholders. They’re licensed, bonded, and most states do have their license by the Department of Insurance, and they typically work on a contingency arrangement whereby it’s no recovery, no fee.

Melissa:

That’s fantastic. When should a policyholder hire a public adjuster?

Scott:

Well, the best time to hire a public insurance adjuster, particularly if you’re dealing with a large loss that involves a commercial or multifamily insurance claim, is at the beginning of the claim, and the reason is that an insurance company is required to give equal consideration to a policyholder’s interests equal to their own, and you have to remember that insurance companies are for-profit organizations and the adjusters and the representatives that are retained to come and investigate a loss are representing the interests of the insurance company, not yours. So, when you’re dealing with a smaller claim, we always like to have people give the insurance company the opportunity to do the right thing. And if there are problems, using a public adjuster who’s good, and vetted, and trusted with a good reputation and experience can save a policyholder a lot of time and headache in the event of a dispute. But when it comes to larger losses, which is what we specialize in, in the insurance world they consider anything over $50,000 to be large loss, we typically get involved in claims that are six figures or seven figures, in that arena, and those are considered large losses. And so, there are so many factors and variables that go into an investigation of a loss. And what a lot of policyholders need to understand is that while a policyholder does have the burden of proving and providing information on their claim, the insurance company has a duty to perform a proper investigation, and therein lies the rub. Because what is proper? Proper can be very subjective. If something can be repaired and you have a full replacement policy, just because it can be repaired doesn’t mean that it should be repaired, especially if you’re paying extra premium for replacement policies. Does that make sense?

Melissa:

Yes, it does. Thank you. What are some questions to ask before hiring a public adjuster?

Scott:

The questions that I always encourage people to ask because we don’t help every single person that calls with residential stuff if we’re talking about smaller claims, but we do tell them what to do and help them. And then in the events, they do need to talk to another firm that specializes in a high volume low number type of claims environment, you want to know, one is; how busy are you on a scale from one to 10? Do you have time to take on my claim? How long have you been doing this? Do you also do appraisal work? Do you also work for insurance companies? That’s a very important question. It seems kind of obvious that you shouldn’t have to ask that, but believe it or not, there are public adjusters who do work both sides, and in our view that presents a conflict of interest. How long you’ve been doing it? What certifications do you have? And then the other big thing is this, I recently was talking to a policyholder, who said they’ve talked to three other public adjusters before they contacted us. One didn’t answer their phone. One of them gave a really bad feeling because right out of the gate, they started talking about attorneys. And while a good public adjuster should have access to good qualified attorneys, it should definitely not be one of the things that are being discussed as a lead-in, like this is where the direction of your claim is going to go. In other words, you want to find out what percentage of your claims end up in litigation? What percentage of your claims into an appraisal? How long should it take? Those kinds of things. And they should also be asking you questions specifically related to the claim, and to the policy and to do you have any estimates? What’s the story, what’s the background on why you’re here today? In other words, what’s the dispute? How much is in dispute? When we talk to a policyholder, we want to vet it out because we work on contingency. We don’t want to mislead anybody. We want to make sure we have all the facts that are necessary and reasonable so that if we do represent the policyholder that we are, one, setting up expectations that they understand what’s happening, and we want to make sure that the claim has a reasonably high likelihood of reaching the settlement and closure that the policyholder is going for? Does that make sense?

Melissa:

It does, thank you. Can you provide our listeners with your website so they can get more information?

Scott:

Sure, we have a lot of resources on our website. We have several free downloads, and we’re just chock full of information. And that website address is www.insuranceclaimrecoverysupport.com. Again, that’s insuranceclaimrecoverysupport.com. We tried to get a longer domain, but that’s the longest one we could find. Just kidding.

Melissa:

Well, thank you, Scott.

Scott:

You’re Welcome.

Melissa:

That’s www.insuranceclaimrecoverysupport.com.

Scott:

Yes ma’am.

Melissa:

This interview is brought to you by pocket editing, all your writing and editing needs in the palm of your hand. For more information, visit pocketediting.com, that’s p o c k e t e d i t i n g dot com.

Bastrop Fire Insurance Claims Are Pouring In! Discover the Truth About Fire Insurance Claims
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The Truth About Fire Insurance Claims
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Level the playing field with your insurance company!
Know Your Rights and Options
From Texas Fire Insurance Claim Experts
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Insurance Claim Recovery Support

INSURANCE CLAIM RECOVERY SUPPORT LLC

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Reserve Your Spot Now, Limited Number of Spaces Available.
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Select the Online Webinar you’d like to attend, enter your info, click “Submit”
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What You Will Learn…
In this information-packed 45-minute introduction to fire insurance claims, you’ll learn:

– The Truth About Fire Insurance Claims.
– What to look for and look out for settling your fire insurance claim.
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– What is a “public adjuster“?
– How are “independent” & “public” adjusters different?
– The difference between a “general contractor” & “public adjuster
– When might an “attorney” be beneficial vs. a “public adjuster
– And Much More!
Who We Are…Insurance Claim Recovery Support (ICRS) is a Texas licensed public insurance adjusting firm dedicated to protecting
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We work exclusively on behalf of the insured policyholder offering comprehensive adjusting and claim documentation to support the maximum benefit in the shortest amount of time possible.
TESTIMONIAL: “When my home at the Oak Hill Y suffered a partial fire loss in April of 2011, I immediately hired Insurance Claim Recovery Support (ICRS). They saved me a ton of time and headaches plus helped me get an additional 47% over what my insurance company offered me and fees included! ICRS took care of all the paperwork and guided me through my policyholder rights step by step and helped me get the results I needed to finally be settled again.”

-Jeff Morehead
Oak Hill Y Fire in Austin, Texas
October 7th, 2011


Terms and Conditions
Limited availability, this free event is first-come, first-served.

We value your privacy
We do not sell, trade, or rent your personal information to others.Who Should Attend
Texas Home and Business Owners impacted by fire loss with an insurance policy.Who Should Not Attend
Other licensed public adjusters, independent adjusters, general contractors, attorneys or fire victims currently represented by one of the aforementioned, we respectfully request that you do not register for these events as space is limited.


Need Immediate Fire Insurance Claim Help?

Call 512-904-9900
General questions, please email: info@insuranceclaimrecoverysupport.com

Insurance Claim Recovery Support LLC, 412 Hazeltine Drive Lakeway, TX 78734

Scott Friedson holds Texas Public Insurance Adjuster License #1632488
Insurance Claim Recovery Support holds Texas Public Insurance Adjuster License #1670060

P.S. Free consultation and 2nd opinion of your claim available for attendees


Want to know more about the insurance claim process? Read this article next!