Survivors Speak: Things I Wish I Had Known

Part of the “Survivors Speak” Tip Series

Tips from a recovered fire survivor insured with USAA

  • Do not be in a rush to settle early.
  • Make sure you clearly understand and document your repair/rebuilding/replacement costs with factual evidence.
  • Do not be afraid to go up the supervisory chain of the insurance company. We ended up three layers higher than the adjuster before we found a sane person. This was key to completing the settlement.
  • Try not to be emotional; negotiation is only a business deal.
  • Do not expect to be given back your life or made whole in the settlement. Again, it is only a business negotiation for the largest sum of money.
  • Try not to alienate anyone; everyone is playing his or her role in the process.
  • If unhappy with the way a negotiation session is going, end it and reschedule.
  • If you are comfortable and trust your general contractor completely, include him or her in the negotiation. We have been very fortunate to have a contractor of the highest integrity and included him through the entire process.
  • Use the Internet to gather personal property cost data and enter into a spreadsheet with irrefutable details.
  • Know your insurance policy better than the insurer. I found a few additional insured items that provided additional thousands of dollars.
  • Conduct negotiation sessions in your home so you have the advantage, never in the business office of the insurance company.
  • If construction costs have gone up, document this in whatever articles you can find.

(William Craig, San Diego, CA)

The information presented in this publication is for general informational purposes and is not a substitute for legal advice. If you have a specific legal issue or problem, United Policyholders recommends that you consult with an attorney. Guidance on hiring professional help can be found in the “Find Help” section of United Policyholders does not sell insurance or certify, endorse or warrant any of the insurance products, vendors, or professionals identified on our website.

Date: November 30, 2023