In Florida, homeowners routinely hire public adjusters to help with their insurance claims, but that practice is not as common in other parts of the country.
While some homeowners love the work that public adjusters do, others feel that they are not necessary in order to be fairly compensated for an insurance claim.
Which begs the question:
Do homeowners need public adjusters to help with their insurance claims?
According to Vince Lefton, owner of Bulldog Adjusters in Plantation, Florida, the answer is unequivocally yes, but he also says that many homeowners don’t even know that public adjusters like him exist.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is not an accidental occurrence.
“We are miles away [from where we need to be],”
Lefton says in describing how little understanding homeowners have of the public adjusting business.
“Who is our competition?”
he then states, citing the desire that insurance companies have to suppress knowledge from homeowners so that when claims arise, the homeowner is already not taking the necessary steps toward achieving fair compensation.
“If you combined every public adjuster and roofer’s marketing budget, it wouldn’t scratch the toe of one major insurance company’s marketing budget,”
Lefton says, which explains why homeowners see ads for their insurance company on TV, but they rarely come across an ad for a public adjusting company, even though public adjusters are the ones who often best support homeowners in their time of need.
This is why Lefton is adamant that homeowners need public adjusters. He knows that without the help of companies like Bulldog Adjusters, many people in his area and around the country would be mistreated by their insurance companies.
“Selfishly I think public adjusters should be involved in every claim because through my experience in claims, I can tell you that I’m only in business because homeowners are getting screwed every day [by insurance companies],”
He also adds that his goal isn’t to compete with other public adjusting companies, mostly because he knows that if the system worked how he would like it to, there would be more than enough work for every public adjuster to thrive in their respective markets.
“I’m not in competition with anyone else,”
“It’s not that I’m better than them. It’s just that there’s so much money to be had and people don’t know how an adjuster can help them.”
Once again, this gap in consumer information helps explain why homeowners consistently lose out on their claims.
“If I tell you that I am a lawyer, I don’t need to tell you what I do. You may ask me what kind of law I am in, but you understand what I do every day,”
“If I tell you I am a public adjuster, you’re most likely clueless as to what I do. I have to explain to homeowners what my role is and how much my fees are.”
This all may seem simplistic, in that if public adjusters became part of the everyday lexicon in the roofing industry, then homeowners would suddenly feel more comfortable after severe weather has damaged their home.
But the reality is there are powerful insurance companies who are effectively marketing their services in a way that keeps homeowners blind to what is really going on.
It’s why homeowners always pay their insurance premiums and assume their insurance company will help them later on, but Lefton says none of that matters when it comes time to make a claim and receive the proceeds.
“In some ways it is criminal what insurance companies do to a lot of homeowners, but I still don’t foresee public adjusters becoming a known commodity in the world, especially in claims,”
“Even if we were to become known, we are still not going to scratch the toe of how much these insurance companies are spending on marketing or how they handle claims.”
For real change to happen, enough homeowners will have to become more aware of how their claims process works, and what role public adjusters have in that process.
“We are going to have to find people who are very frustrated with their claims process, are trying to get bids from contractors, and they can’t find anybody to do it for their price so now they go looking for a solution,”
“But until they had a problem, they did not know there was a solution.”
There are some people in the roofing industry who deem public adjusters to be ambulance chasers, individuals who go after damaged neighborhoods and try to profit off the devastation.
Like roofers who chase storms, there are some public adjusters whose intent is not to help the homeowner, but instead to benefit from unfortunate circumstances.
Lefton says Bulldog Adjusters does not chase storms, and that there are many reasons for this decision.
“I’m not getting up at three in the morning to be one of seven people in line with two other restoration companies who are all bad-mouthing each other. That’s not the kind of business I want to do,”
Lefton also says chasing storms isn’t practical because then he would have to stay in that new area or city for months to service the clients he has agreed to help, which could spread his operation at Bulldog Adjusters too thin.
“I chose to stay in the Plantation, Florida market because I know what it takes to process claims. I understand that people need an adjuster, which takes time and money, but even when claims dry out I still have to service those people.”
“You have to make calculated risks and decisions about servicing people. When you are a single proprietor handling claims, then you can chase storms because you go where the business is, and that’s the majority of the public adjuster world. Even some of the guys that do adjusting in large losses have their own sole proprietorship. Maybe they have a support staff, but they don’t have a process or firm handling thousands of claims like we do.”
Fortunately for homeowners, Bulldog Adjusters has the infrastructure in place to service thousands of customers, which is why they are able to help customers in 43 states across the country.
With the help of the Virtual PA, there is no damage that Lefton’s adjusters can’t handle, or insurance company that his team won’t deal directly with to help process a claim.
If you would like to learn more about how Bulldog Adjusters helps homeowners, check out a video of their company tour!
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