Merlin Law - September 2019

813.229.1000 • M erlin L aw G roup.com

SEPTEMBER 2019

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The Adjuster’s Advocate

The insurance industry has changed a lot over the past few decades. I have seen that change firsthand during the 25 years I’ve worked as an insurance adjuster, insurance defense attorney, and plaintiff’s attorney. This experience has given me a crucial perspective of the work I do with Merlin Law Group, our public-adjuster community, and our clients. I am fortunate to handle cases that are considered by the insurance carrier to be a large-loss or complex claim. A large-loss or complex claim is when the case is valued at $200,000 or more. You can be sure this type of case is being looked at by an insurance company’s attorney (or multiple attorneys) in an advisory role. When it’s clear that a case is, in fact, a large-loss, it is important at that point in the claims process for the public adjuster to bring on an attorney in an advisory role. The earlier they loop in an attorney, the greater benefit they have in terms of utilizing the attorney’s legal knowledge and advice — as well as establishing a team dynamic. It’s all about being on equal footing during the claims process. To that end, I can’t stress enough how important it is for the public adjuster to speak with their client about the potential of working with an attorney and tackling it as a team. Some clients may believe they only need to hire either a public adjuster or an attorney, not realizing that it is sometimes necessary in a claims process to hire both, depending on the size, complexity of the claim, and whether the carrier has taken (or is expected to take) an adversarial posture. It is important to educate the client about the team concept at the very beginning of the claims process, having an attorney available to discuss the claim, and if necessary, bringing the attorney onto the case. When you are up against a well-financed insurance company, you should be on equal footing and will need your own team to go toe- to-toe with that of the insurance company. You can be absolutely sure the insurance company will actively utilize a legal team in their fight against you and your client. How many of those well-crafted letters, with legal jargon and policy provisions, were really written by an insurance company adjuster? The ghostwriter

of those letters is often an attorney working in-house for the insurance company or outside counsel working in an advisory role. If the insurance company comes back and doesn’t want to pay the claim or they want to disrupt the process — delaying the claim, denying coverage, scope, or value, or defending their position — having an attorney on the team can make a big difference. When the public adjuster works with an attorney, they don’t just get access to the advice and insight of one person. By extension, the public adjuster also gains access to a team of other professionals within the same law firm. There have been many times when I’ve received a call regarding a case, and I am happy to provide advice and options without stepping onto the case (free of charge). That said, should the public adjuster decide they need an attorney on the case, I can easily come in and work as part of the team. That’s one of the biggest benefits of calling an attorney early in the claims process: The attorney becomes familiar with the case, even if they aren’t active on it, and if they’re brought in, it’s a seamless process. Sometimes the client has hired a public adjuster and has his or her own attorney they are familiar with and would like to involve. I have worked with many other good attorneys who don’t typically handle first-party property cases, and it has always been a pleasure to have them and the public adjuster on the team. At the end of the day, we are all working toward the common goal of achieving a successful resolution of the claim. I am very fortunate and thankful to be working with great attorneys that make up my own team within the larger team that is the Merlin Law Group firm. More and more public adjusters work with the team concept in mind and make use of the legal resources available to them throughout their representation of the client.

There Is No ‘I’ in Team Javier Delgado on Teamwork, Strategy, and the Path to Success

It’s all about being on equal footing during the claims process.

At the end of the day, an adaptable public adjuster will always be able to better represent their client. When

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