3 important signs that indicate YOUR CLAIM IS IN TROUBLE (TIME TO CALL IN THE PUBLIC ADJUSTER)

It is a stressful time when your home is damaged by a storm, a leak, or whatever.  What’s even more stressful is trying to figure out whether that loss is going to be covered by homeowner’s policy.  You need to determine if your policy will cover this event, who to call to start the process, probably call a contractor or two, and wait for the insurance company to respond.  Then when they do respond, it may not be the answer you expected, or wanted.  There are four variations of the claims process, and only one of them is positive: 1) you can wait a long time to get either the initial inspection of the damage by the insurance company’s claims rep (and you may have even been frustrated by the time it took to talk to the “right” person at the company about your claim); 2) your scheduling for a contractor to view and document the loss could be frustrating between trying to arrange schedules, his work schedule, and his nearness to your property; 3) finally, you get a low-ball offer from the insurance company to settle the claim, so it’s back to reinspection and back-and-forth communications with the insurance company; or, 4) miracle of miracles, you get a fast, fair inspection and settlement offer.  Of those four possibilities, number 4 is the most unlikely, and yet it is the only one that gives you, the claimant, a satisfactory result.  That’s where we, Pinnacle, can help you.

New Leaf services FAQs

What services does New Leaf offer?

New Leaf offers ‘direct cremation’ services at an affordable price. Forms are filled out online or over the phone. We provide efficient, quality service at a clear, reasonable price.

Arrangements are made online or over the phone.

We provide efficient, quality service at a clear, reasonable price.

How does the process work?

-A call to New Leaf or a visit to our website is all that is needed to start the process

– You choose your package and receive a quote, complete the online forms, and provide payment.

-We then dispatch our licensed funeral directors to transport your loved one from the place of death to our climate controlled holding facility for care and storage.

-We then register the death with the local municipality. Forms, certificates and authorizations are completed according to New York State laws before the cremation can take place.

-Once the forms and authorizations have been signed and filed with the local health department, the decedent is transferred to a third party crematory (as required by New York State law) for cremation. Usually this takes place within 3-7 days.

-The ashes are then shipped to the family or a hand delivery/pickup is arranged.

How long does the process usually take?

The overall cremation process, from notification until the family receives the ashes, will take an average of 7–15 days (you said you would hold body for five days when we spoke; can you hold a body more than that without cremation; should note that if there is a delay, as outlined below, body must be cremated). (We can’t cremate until the forms are filed. If the delay is longer than 5 days we charge a storage fee per day) Funeral homes are at the mercy of the medical examiner and others, though, so delays can and do occur.

The overall cremation process, from initial arrangements until the family receives the ashes, will take an average of 10–15 days.

Delays may occur when local, state or federal agencies, police, county coroner, or medical examiners become involved and investigate the circumstances surrounding a death, or the attending physician delays signing the death certificate.

You can rest assured that New Leaf will keep you informed every step of the way should a delay occur.

**Note: Should a delay in obtaining the death certificate require us to store your loved one in our care beyond the standard 3 day window, a daily ‘custodial care’ of $150/day will apply.

Is the memorial service included?

No, New Leaf handles the cremation allowing you to plan your own memorial service. If you would like to have a memorial service at one of our partner funeral homes we will be happy to arrange.

How are the ashes delivered?

Your loved one’s ashes will be either shipped through USPS Priority Mail, or hand-delivered by one of our representatives. They come in a rigid plastic container unless an urn is purchased through our website.

Does low cost mean low quality?

When it comes to a traditional funeral, yes, you get what you pay for- nicer facilities, nicer livery vehicles, etc. Direct Cremations are different however. New Leaf offers an efficient service and we pride ourselves on quality customer service. We believe that a person’s financial standing should not preclude them from a dignified end, and that every life should be celebrated. We treat our clients like family, just as we have for over 100 years at our partner funeral homes.

In Florida, after almost a year, 8/13/18,  the Florida Office of Insurance estimates that in most counties, only 75%-90% of the claims from Hurricane Irma have been settled.  After almost a year! What’s worse, according to a report, the state’s largest insurer, Citizen’s, had to reopen 37% of their settled claims due to homeowner’s dissatisfaction with their settlement.  Wait, there’s more.  According to the same report (Sun-Sentinel, March 29th, 2018), just over 32% of the claims were denied outright.  So, think your claim process is going to go smoothly?  Think again.

As a client of the insurance company, you are due a speedy process and a fair settlement.  Even if you contact the insurance company immediately, file all the paperwork expeditiously, and let their investigators review the damage, or rereview it, it’s unlikely the process will be quick, or fair.  Insurance companies profit by delaying, denying, and make low-ball offers.  As long as they don’t settle, they hold the money and earn the interest. Worse, you can get into a vicious, and repetitive, cycle of claim, deny, reexamine, all of which delays getting a payment into your hands; and, God forbid, if you can’t assign the benefit due to your policy’s provision, see any money to get the necessary repairs done.

Of course, all these issues and frustrations can be avoided if you bring the public adjuster in at the beginning of the process.  We, Pinnacle, can contact the insurance company, document the damage, point out why it’s covered by your policy, arrange appointments with insurance investigators and contractors, and negotiate with the carrier to receive the settlement.  Doesn’t that sound far easier, smoother, and less stressful?

OK, so how do you know when your claim is not going well and it’s time to call in Pinnacle to help?

  1. How Long Have You Been Waiting to Hear From the Insurance Company or for the Settlement Offer?

Delay is the insurance companies’ secret weapon.  Delay will likely make you more anxious to settle; delay creates uncertainty in your mind about the rightness of your claim, and delay lets the insurance company keep your money and earn income from it.  There is some support for you.  In Florida, under statutory regulation, the insurance company has fourteen days to get back to after you file the initial claim.  Once, you actually file your claim, they then have 10 days to respond (just because they respond, doesn’t mean you’ll be happy; as noted earlier, their first offer is likely to be a “low ball” offer or they are likely to ask for more details).  Lastly, they have a 90 window to deny the claim or make the settlement offer.  Of course, when there is a major disaster, like Hurricane Irma, all bets are off and the timeframe won’t be enforced.  If you’re still waiting for a response or a settlement offer, better call us.

  1. Are You Being Asked to Give a Recorded Statement?

This is a red warning sign.  This is never to your benefit and can be used by the insurance company against you.  Call us in; we will deal with the insurance company.  (While this is unusual, it’s a pretty sure sign that the insurance company is preparing their legal defense in the event they deny your claim.  Again, this is NEVER in your favor.  It’s almost a sure sign that they plan to deny the claim.)

  1. Has the Insurance Company Told You They Are “Investigating” the Claim?

The words “investigate” or “investigating” are a tip-off that the insurance company is digging deeper.  The usual terminology insurance companies used is “processing” your claim.  So, when any form of “investigate” is used, this is likely to mean that the insurance company doesn’t like some aspect of the claim and is digging deeper TO FIND A REASON TO DENY THE CLAIM.  It also means there is likely to be a longer delay in settling your claim because they are trying to find something that will make them either not liable or modify, i.e., lessen, their liability.  As soon as you hear or read the word “investigate”, it’s time to call in the troops.  We, at Pinnacle, talk their language, can assuage their concerns, and get a final settlement offer quicker.  We know your policy terms, we know the engineering to fix your damage, and we know how to talk to the insurance company to get them to see the light and settle your claim.  Try us.

There were some timeframes mentioned above.  In order to enforce them on the insurance company, it’s important that you document and keep track of when you file the claim, when they first respond, and when they make a settlement offer (or deny the claim).  Not meeting the time requirements may strengthen your hand and may also make it easier to settle the claim in the long run.  We can help use any discrepancies to fight the insurance company’s delay or low ball offer.