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The Value of Partnering with an Independent Adjuster on Commercial Habitational Losses

Commercial habitational properties are suffering losses from natural disasters, fires, thefts, and vandalism. Working with an independent adjuster can help ensure claims reach satisfactory conclusions.
By: | September 16, 2021

Commercial habitational properties face a unique combination of hazards from man-made and natural disasters. Protecting these assets is of the utmost importance to their owners and the people who live in them. Comprised of condominiums, apartment buildings and adjacent commercial spaces, these properties need extra protection because they’re not just buildings; they’re people’s homes and businesses.

“When someone suffers a loss, our goal is to help them restore their lives to a normal routine and a pre-loss condition as quickly as possible. This is especially important with commercial habitational losses where inevitably, multiple households are disrupted,” said Tom Mulroy, Senior Vice President of Eastern Region Field Operations with Engle Martin & Associates, a leading national loss adjusting and claims management provider.

“In these instances, partnering with the right insurance adjuster ensures that each property owner and resident has the support needed to quickly recover from a loss.”

Trends in Commercial Habitational Losses

Tom Mulroy, Senior Vice President of Eastern Region Field Operations, Engle Martin & Associates

In recent years, stronger, more frequent storms have put catastrophe claims top-of-mind for everyone in the claims value chain, including property adjusters.

“Last year, the Gulf of Mexico experienced a significant catastrophe season with multiple named storms creating devastating impacts in the habitational space,” noted Richard Funnell, Senior Vice President of Western Region Field Operations with Engle Martin.

“An active wildfire season and unprecedented events like Winter Storm Uri in Texas and Derecho storms in the Midwest also contributed to an uptick in losses. These events tend to contribute to hardening markets, driving premium increases and higher deductibles.”

Undoubtedly, the losses stemming from Hurricane Ida in Louisiana and the fires ravaging California will propel these trends.

Richard Funnell, Senior Vice President of Western Region Field Operations, Engle Martin & Associates

The increase in losses also makes the partnership with an independent adjuster like Engle Martin even more valuable. A dedicated account adjuster creates a partnership with all interested parties and helps to ensure that these claims are assessed objectively and timely.

“Having an experienced, knowledgeable adjuster is going to make all the difference in the way the claim is investigated, handled, and ultimately concluded,” said David Tusa, Senior Vice President of Central Region Field Operations with Engle Martin.

“As the adjuster, we are there to provide the necessary information and help the insurance carrier assess the damages and obtain any other information to conclude the claim. At the end of the day, our partnership enables them to make a decision as to how to address the loss.”

Recovering After a Loss

David Tusa, Senior Vice President of Central Region Field Operations, Engle Martin & Associates

Responding quickly when a loss occurs is critical. “When we receive a new claim, our team handles that claim with white glove service throughout the claims process” Funnell said. “We treat these claims as if it were our own home or business that was affected. In these situations, we understand the importance of prompt communication and accurate claims handling.”

Working with the right experts can help get a commercial habitational property back to its pre-loss condition as quickly as possible. That often means building consultants, structural engineers, forensic accountants, origin fire experts, and others who can help determine the cause of the loss and offer advice on how the insured can recover from it.

“For example, in a fire or a water loss situation, an adjuster may not have the requisite skills to put a structure back to its pre-loss condition,” Mulroy said. “Combining insurance knowledge with an engineer or a consultant early in the process, is important to the overall success of the claim settlement.”

Partnering with the Right Adjuster

When a loss arises, independent claims adjusters will be some of the first to triage the damage and help an insured understand the loss. They will work with the property owners and individual unit owners to assess the damage. “To me, having the right adjuster is the most important aspect,” Tusa said.

Engle Martin matches clients with the closest possible adjuster to make sure that the claim is assessed quickly. “When someone suffers damage to the place where they reside, it impacts the way they live,” Mulroy said. “So, having an adjusting firm that can respond immediately is important.”

“Engle Martin has 70 nationwide offices, equipped with the unique knowledge of risks commercial habitational properties face in different parts of the country. From coast-to-coast, including the Hawaiian Islands, Engle Martin’s experienced adjusters are strategically located to rapidly respond to any loss event,” Funnell stated.

“An adjuster who sits in Missouri may not understand the type of wind and exposure to salt water that occurs during a coastal storm,” Mulroy pointed out. “Likewise, a Gulf Coast adjuster may not be prepared to assess the damage from a mid-western snowstorm or ice damming.”

“Nationally, we have adjusters who have the depth of knowledge to ensure that we are able to respond to the full range of claims. The size and geographic reach of our adjusting team ensures that we are able to match the appropriate team member to the size, complexity, and location of each loss.”

Another important thing to consider is the skill level of the adjuster. Engle Martin has six different levels of adjusters based on experience and areas of expertise. “We have varying levels of adjusters based on their depth of experience and degree of skill in the commercial property sector,” Funnell noted.

“The habitational sector is an area where we have the most experience.”

Quick response times, industry knowledge, and quality service are all important factors to consider when engaging an independent adjuster to assess a commercial habitational loss.

“We make contact, perform our inspection, and then provide a detailed report with the information needed to make a decision on coverage or payment to the insured,” Tusa said.

“Throughout the life of the claim we work with the insured and the insurance carrier to ensure that the claim proceeds to its conclusion as quickly as possible,” Tusa added.

For more information, visit https://www.englemartin.com/loss-adjusting/property/.

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This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with Engle Martin & Associates. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.

Atlanta-based Engle Martin & Associates is a leading national independent loss adjusting and claims management provider. Privately held and owner operated, the firm delivers a comprehensive line of property and casualty claims service offerings.

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