Tuesday AM September 23rd, 2008

By now many homeowners have contacted their insurance companies and filed a claim, and adjusters have been getting out to people's homes and businesses to make damage assessments.ξ Attorney Tina Nicholson with the Merlin law firm says it's important that adjusters are shown all the damage.

"They have probably 50 people to go see a week.ξ You need to make sure that you point out every bit of damage.ξ You need to go up in the attic and make sure there's no leaks.ξ Walk around the house, see if there's any damage to the siding or cracks in the brick, and you need to point that all out to the insurance adjuster when he or she gets there.ξ The insurance adjuster is going to write up an estimate of what it costs to fix the damage to your home or to your business.ξ If you don't agree with it, then you can dispute it."ξ

Nicholson says hurricanes can cause a lot of structural damage, as she saw in processing claims for Hurricane Katrina.

"And we had, a lot of people hired engineers, or the insurance companies hired engineers to go out and assess this.ξ And if they do that, if you suspect structural damage in your home, if there's cracks between the ceiling and the wall or you see cracks in your brick there weren't there before, ask the insurance company to send an engineer out and make sure that you don't have structural damage, and then ask for a copy of that report.ξ A lot of times they won't give it to you, but you're entitled to it, so ask for it."

Many adjusters can write a check for a few thousand dollars on the spot, for example, for a downed fence.ξ Nicholson says you can take an initial check from an adjuster, but if it turns out to be too low, you can still petition the company for the remaining amount.ξ

Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.

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