Filing an insurance claim after a disaster is often difficult and stressful, even for a single structure with one owner. For community associations, the challenge is greater and the stakes are higher. Board members must suddenly become experts. They need to interpret governing documents, understand property insurance policies, consider Florida laws, assess damage, and manage contractors. To complicate matters, associations have numerous stakeholders, each with their own opinions.An experienced public adjuster can lift this burden by handling the competing demands of the disaster recovery process, filing your claim and advocating for a maximum settlement. This article explains the critical role of a public adjuster for community associations before, during and after a disaster.
Helping Your Community Association Prepare
Community associations must have a disaster preparedness plan. Not only for the safety of residents but to prevent delays in claims processing and ensure a fair settlement. The board should have at a minimum:
– Governing documents to confirm damage responsibilities (resident versus association)
– Recent photos of property (to show pre-disaster status)
– Copies of insurance policies and contact information
– Approved budget for pre-settlement disaster recovery spending
– Access to a credit card or cash for immediate disaster needs
– Approved vendors for debris removal, damage assessment, and other construction/building needs
A public adjuster can help with the development of these crucial planning documents. For example, an adjuster can review the photos of your property and suggest certain angles or close-ups to confirm structural details. They can provide a third-party opinion on your insurance policy based on their experience with disasters in your community.
It’s important to select your public adjuster before disaster strikes, so you can evaluate their experience and approve a qualified agency. Your community association can be confident that they are ready when the time comes.
After a disaster, your community association should call your public adjuster immediately. They will arrive onsite to assess the damages. A public adjuster can take photographs, videos, and notes, knowing exactly what to document and how best to do it. They can also advise on what immediate repairs should be made. Insurance companies want you to prevent further damage, but your public adjuster will make sure it doesn’t affect your settlement.
A qualified public adjuster in Florida will have experience with the most common types of insurable claims, often caused by natural disasters like hurricanes. Having witnessed the effects of collapsed walls and roofs, flooded living areas, and downed power lines, Florida public adjusters have a general sense of what will be covered and can provide preliminary guidance to your association.
Most public adjusters also have a team of construction and engineering experts to walk through and document damages that go beneath the surface. This is a critical benefit for community associations. Without building expertise, long-term problems might be overlooked and unaccounted for in the total value of your claim.