*Written for the Daily Record – http://www.omahadailyrecord.com/index.cfm?show=10&mid=84
Sometimes one sentence, date or clause can make all the difference as to whether an insurance policy will pay an insurance claim. Fortunately, companies like The Omaha Chamber’s Small Business of the Month, Premier Claims, exist to help homeowners when elements like wind, hail, and fire damage their property.
Soon to be located at 1079 North 205th Avenue in Elkhorn, Premier Claims’ primary function is to ensure
that property owners get their fair share from insurance payouts once they have been denied. Gil Shalmon, building consultant and public adjuster for Premier, explained,
“Anybody who owns a property that has been damaged … once an insurance company tells them ‘no,’ they don’t really have much recourse.
We do; we have license to look at policy and statutes and the legal side.”
Licensed to practice in multiple states, Gil continued, “Some insurance companies lobby in some states to the point that we don’t even have people who do what we do.” In states like Alabama, for example, the only recourse against an insurance company on a denied claim is to sue in a court of law. This makes Premier Claims’ job extremely important, as they are advocating for the individual against large corporations on a day-to-day basis.
Established in 2017, National Business Director Pate Smith, who attended law school, brought his legal expertise to the team. He said, “Everybody in this company is like a specialist. Every other company in our industry, they may work 40 or 80 claims a year. That would be a lot. We work on 150 a month, residential and commercial.” For example, the employees assigned to inspect and check homes are typically
from the roofing or building industry.
“The guys that deal with the insurance companies on behalf of the policy holder collectively have done over 20,000 claims. Everybody is highly specialized,” Pate said. When the local team of 20 works together and coordinates with their nationally dispersed counterparts, they work like a well-oiled machine.
As the only company to assist individuals with claims under $100,000, Premier’s goal is to advocate on behalf of each and every policyholder. Every individual matters to them and treating them as such is what truly sets them apart from the average corporate entity. “Personally,” said Gil, “I kind of like taking on the big corporations and helping people out. We don’t win them all, but we do win about 90 percent.”
Perhaps the biggest point of note about Premier Claims is their emphasis on education. Gil said, “There’s a lot of implications on whether or not to file a claim, it’s a big re-education process. If your property is damaged and you don’t make the repairs, a couple of years down the road you may have a total system failure. If you do file eventually, the insurance company is going to come back and tell the owner they should have made the repairs back then and deny the claim.”
If one waits, for example, too long to file a claim on damage from a storm, an insurance company has the right to depreciate the value of the damage by the amount of time the homeowner waited to file the claim and give less money to make the repair. Pate explained, “In Nebraska, the longer you wait, it drastically decreases the likelihood of payout. … But, you do have up to five years.”
If an insurance carrier does, in fact, pay out a sum for damages, it is extremely important to make sure it is sufficient to restore a structure back to its original state.
“Apartment fires are almost always underpaid by three quarters,” Pate said. Gil went on to explain, “Most people take things for granted, or they assume that what the insurance carrier is writing for is right.”
Some insurance carriers may offer a lump sum when they make payouts, without taking into consideration
exactly what factors need to be restored or rebuilt to bring a structure to its original state. A $900,000 payout, for example, may seem extremely generous, but in reality, the repair may cost closer to $3 million to return the building to its original state.
For this and many reasons, Premier Claims likes to be involved with the policyholder before a claim has even been filed. They can read through your current insurance policy to make sure there “aren’t any clauses that are going to cause issues,” said Pate. Working with single homeowners to property investors with hundreds of buildings, Premier goes out to inspect properties.
Gil said, “when, for instance, a hailstorm comes through, we’ll go out and inspect each of those properties and give clients a full detailed report with pictures and tell them based on their insurance policy and how much damage, whether it makes sense to file a claim on this.”
After working hard at their craft and processing thousands of claims in a short time, Gil and Pate are extremely
proud to accept the Small Business of the Month Award from the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce on behalf of Premier Claims.
Pate loves driving around the greater Omaha area, especially Dundee, and being able to say, “I did that one, and that one, and that one…”
“It feels great,” said Gil. “After all the work that everyone’s put in, and all the results we have achieved, we feel pretty good. I remember when we were originally signed up for the Chamber of Commerce and noticed the award. It was something I was trying to strive for. It’s always nice to be recognized and we’re really just trying to build the company and expand the foothold we have in the community.”
With dependable service, caring staff, and incomparable expertise, Premier Claims is the perfect advocate for those going through conflict with their insurance carriers.
If you have an insurance claim that needs help or want a second set of eyes on your current policy, contact
Premier Claims today at 1-877-219-0049.