September 28, 2014

    One week since the tornado hit our home and we are still in a hotel. I am trying to create normalcy to our routine of getting up in the morning, going to school, and homework. I’ve created homework stations in the two adjoining rooms and we have basic groceries for breakfast and snacks. We only have a refrigerator and microwave, so we have gone out to eat each evening. The kids seem fine and excited about our adventures, but Ed and I are frustrated.

    Since the damages to our home are so large, our file has been assigned to an Independent Adjuster versus a staff adjuster from our Insurance Company. An Independent Adjuster is typically used when a claim is too large for the staff adjuster to handle or when a particular insurance company has too many claims. The only problem is although the Independent Adjuster does all the processing of your claim, the claim and payment still needs to be reviewed and authorized by your insurance adjuster. Unfortunately, the insurance adjuster is usually too busy or lacks the authorization to approve any of the payments. This means all authorization has to go through Home Office. In short, all of these extra steps in the process take time and create a lot of unnecessary delays. Some of our neighbors with minor damages are already scheduling their repairs. Even though we understand the process, it is frustrating and we still have to wait.

    One thing we did not wait for is finding temporary housing. Since we understand our rights and privileges within the policy we began immediately looking for a rental home. One day after the Tornado hit, we contacted a local realtor and let her know our needs, while we scoured the internet for local listings. We needed a home that was big enough for our entire family and close to the schools. The rental property would have to allow pets and have an office or den that would allow Ed to set up the business operations typically housed in our home, including phone, internet connections, fax, and scanner. We started looking almost immediately after relocation to the hotel, but options on the market were limited. Fortunately, the Realtor called early in the week with 2-3 available homes to view and each day she has been working to find additional options. The first home was clean but very small. Not enough space for our entire family and a business. The second home had water leaking into the basement and the upstairs showed signs of water damage too. I didn’t need another house with problems. Finally we found two very nice homes that met our specifications. We decided on one of them, obtained the lease and sent it to our Independent Adjuster. From there, the lease had to be sent to the temporary housing division, who contacted both our realtor and our Inside Insurance Adjuster, and the negotiations began.

    The insurance company wanted a short term lease and the option for a month to month after that. The homeowner was willing to be flexible but the monthly rate kept going up with every new option the insurance company demanded. I am trying to hurry the process by keeping all parties talking, versus letting our file just sit in a pile. I know that once the lease is final, we still need to order furniture and schedule a delivery. Again, everything takes time and because I understand the steps, I keep herding the process and am staying on top of everything. I am aware that the success of what has happened so far is due to our knowledge of the insurance claim process and this allows us to be proactive versus passive. I worry about the insureds who do not understand their rights and/or the process and sit in waiting for their insurance adjuster to help them. Nothing would be happening with a rental home much less a lease and the ordering of rental furniture, if both Ed and I had not stayed vigilant. My motivation is the knowledge of how important it is for me and my family to get out of this hotel as soon as possible and re-establish a semblance of a real home. Hopefully the lease will be accepted, the furniture will be ordered, and the move in date scheduled sometime this week.