If a “total building loss” is the basis of your insurance claim, it means you’re dealing with a building that is on the ground or gone entirely due to fire or other property catastrophe. In these cases, by the time the insurance carrier adjuster or your Public Adjuster shows up, all that’s left is a hole in the ground.
This presents so many challenges. For one thing, it’s possible the property owner has no photos to share with the adjuster, or no building plans for reference. Basically, there’s nothing to go by and the adjusters must go back to the drawing board to recreate the building and use that to estimate damages.
How does a PA do that? For one thing, we might be able to determine that the building was 10K square feet and had two floors. We’ll then sit down and craft a theoretical floor plan. Maybe the foundation is still there to be measured. We will also take the time to go through all the finishes – which of the trims were made of hardwood, for example, and what types of doors and windows were used? Can we see that the builders used plaster instead of drywall? That’s a big difference in costs. Doors, cabinets, windows, the type of roofing – these details can be very hard to get, but they make all the difference. And with the ever-escalating costs of these materials, those differences matter.
How does the insurance company adjuster handle the claim? They will probably just estimate the square footage and plug those and other generalized numbers into the Xactimate software to see what the computer spits out for an evaluation. This is a rough number generated by very inexact software – only by countering with specific numbers can you overcome such poor estimating.
So, if you’re a building owner, it makes sense to keep a record of your property’s measurements and photograph as much as you can. Notify your insurance agent every time you make an upgrade or do a remodel. And hire a public adjuster. An insurance claim involving a total building loss presents many challenges. Public adjusters know what goes into a reconstruction – the insurance company adjusters might not.