|Posted by Anne Siren on November 16, 2012 at 2:05 PM|
Robert E. Cote, owner of Property Loss Consultants, has been in the insurance field since 1992 . “I was an estimator for State Farm for five years,” he says. “Working for the insurance company made me realize that the injured party needed representation when negotiating a claim with his or her insurance company. The average person may deal with a claim once or twice in a lifetime. That’s why having a professional public adjuster representative is a real financial advantage.”
He further explained, “In order to get the fairest and best settlement possible from an insurance company, one needs a person who can assess the property damage, study the policy and negotiate from experience. Going it on your own is like going into court without a lawyer, or doing your own taxes without an accountant who is up on the rules.”
Cote charges no fee up front. His commission is between 10 and 20 percent of the settlement depending upon the circumstances and state rules. The State of Florida has capped the fee for hurricane damage at 10 percent for one year.
In his own business since 2001, he is licensed and bonded in Florida, New Hampshire, Georgia and plans to include New York in his list of states where he is qualified as a public adjuster.
In a 2010 report, a Florida Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability [OPPAGA] study of over 76,321 claims examined found that those claims handled by public adjusters resulted in settlements five to seven times higher than those handled by the injured party.
Asked to define a public adjuster, Cote said, “The person is a qualified professional who is licensed and bonded by the state and who, for a commission, represents and negotiates your property damages with your insurance company. To become a public adjuster one must work as an apprentice with a public adjuster firm for one year, become bonded, and pass a qualifying test.”
“Our job is to analyze your policy, including the obligations of the insurance company. We document the claim to the full extent of the loss, including estimates of damage, additional living expenses, loss of income, and repairs. Once the full extent of the loss is determined and documented, the schedule of loss and damages is prepared, reviewed and presented to the insurance carrier for negotiations. This professionally done process gives the public adjuster the ability to maximize the injured party’s settlement.”
Cote says it is to the advantage of any property owner including people with a home, office, commercial building, boat or plane suffering damages to seek the professional services of a public adjuster.
“Nobody knows what your claim is worth better than an experienced public adjuster who knows state statutes and how to read an insurance policy.”
Bruce Pontner, Parkland agrees, saying, “I’m in the shoe business and when I suffered roof damage as a result of Hurricane Wilma, I put my claim into my insurance company and got nowhere. They offered me very little. Fortunately a friend told me to call Robert and he saved my life. He got me what I needed, and my roof has been fixed. If it weren’t for him, I’d still be fighting with my insurance company.”
Steven Byers, Delray Beach, has a similar story. He says, “I had damage from Hurricane Wilma and my insurance kept giving me the run around about doing the fixing. I was so frustrated that a friend suggested I call Robert, whom I hired. He managed to get me double what my insurance company was offering and in so doing he solved my problems and ended my frustration. I recommend getting the services of a pro like Robert to anyone having to negotiate with an insurance company.”
There’s no job too big or too small according to Cote. He cites a few examples from his own files. “One client took his boat out in rough seas and cracked the hull. His claim was denied until I reviewed the policy and negotiated a settlement based on the policy language. He went from zero on his own to a $20,000 settlement.”
One of his larger cases dealt with Hurricane Wilma’s damage to a three-story office building on Atlantic Boulevard.
He says with a proud smile, “I was able to negotiate a settlement of about $500,000 more than the original offer from the insurer.”
Cote adds, “ To be current snowbirds who are here now and who have property damages in the Northeast from Hurricane Sandy can contact me for claim assistance or referrals.”
To contact Cote at Property Loss Consultants, call 954-545-1450 or visit www.propertyloss.net