A Primer For The First Party Property Claims Adjuster.
The new second edition of The Compact Book of Adjusting Property Claims is now available. It has bee updated with new case law citations and has been rewritten to make it easier to read and use.
The following, from the introduction, explains the concept of the book.
The insurance adjuster is not mentioned in a policy of insurance. The obligation to investigate and prove a claim falls on the insured.
Standard first party property insurance policies, based upon the New York Standard Fire Insurance policy, contain conditions that require the insured to, within sixty days of the loss, submit a sworn proof of loss to prove to the insurer the facts and amount of loss.
The policy allows the insurer to then, and only then, respond to the insured’s proof of loss. The insurer can then either accept or reject the proof submitted by the insured.
Technically, if the wording of the policy was followed literally the insurer could sit back, do nothing, and wait for the proof. If the insured was late in submitting the proof the insurer could reject the claim. If the insured submits a timely proof of loss the insurer could either accept or reject the proof of loss. If the insurer rejected the proof of loss the insured could either send a new one or give up and gain nothing from the claim. Suit on the policy would be difficult because the policy contract limited the right to sue to times when the proof of loss condition had been met.
Insureds and insurers were not happy with that system. It made it too difficult for a lay person to successfully present a claim. The system, as written into the standard fire policy seemed to run counter to the covenant of good faith and fair dealing that had been the basis of the insurance contract for centuries. Most insurers understood that their insureds were mostly incapable of complying with the strict enforcement of the policy conditions. To fulfill the covenant of good faith and fair dealing insurers created the insurance adjuster to fulfill its obligation to deal fairly and in good faith with the insured.
What Is an Adjuster?
An “adjuster” or “insurance adjuster” is by statutory definition, a person, co-partnership or corporation who undertakes to ascertain and report the actual loss to the subject-matter of insurance due to the hazard insured against. Insurance companies create, by issuing an insurance policy, a contractual obligation to pay its insureds’ valid claim. To do so insurers understand that the person insured is not able to prove the cause and extent of loss without assistance. Therefore, insurers dispatch a person with special knowledge – the adjuster – to separate fact from fiction, to establish cause and origin of the claimed loss, and determine sufficient information to enable the insurance company determine the amounts necessary to indemnify the insured as the policy promised. The adjuster is also present to distinguish the valid claim from a claim for which the insurance company is not liable under its policy.
Read about this new book and more insurance books by Barry Zalma at http://zalma.com/blog/insurance-claims-library/