Call Us Today at (323) 460-4900
1130 N La Brea Ave West Hollywood, CA 90038
 

SIMPLE KEYS TO UNDERSTANDING HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE

To make sure you have the right type, and right amount of homeowner’s insurance, you need to understand what it does, and doesn’t, cover. Regular homeowner’s insurance will cover damage from tornadoes, fires, and burglary; but it will not cover the calamity of hurricanes, floods, terrorism, or nuclear meltdowns.

Basic Principles

*Make sure to get enough coverage to re-build your home from bottom to top.

*Choose “replacement cost” instead of “actual cash value.”

*Regularly inventory your possessions and their replacement costs. Consider a special rider for valuables such as jewelry, furs, and family heirlooms.

*Understand “loss of use” provisions. These provisions will dictate how long your insurer will pay rent while your home is rebuilt or repaired.

Best Offerings

*Look at on-line quotes and shop around, in general. Do some research to make sure the company is financially sound.

*Consider the possibility of raising your deductible to keep rates low.

*Get discounts by purchasing homeowner’s and auto insurance from the same company.

*Consider an umbrella policy to protect against lawsuits.

*Ask if special discounts are available. Some companies offer discounts to longtime customers, seniors, and non-smokers.

*Monitor and maintain a good credit score

*Unless you plan to file a claim, don’t report damages.

What Isn’t Covered

*Home office equipment

* Damage from neglect and poor maintenance practices

*Losses caused by pests such as insects, rodents, and pets

*Sewer backups and mold

In Case of Disaster

*Get in touch with your insurance company as soon as possible.

*Begin checking for damage and take photos to document calamity. Make quick fixes and temporary repairs to mitigate further damage.

*Be cautious of repairmen charging exorbitant rates and con artists impersonating insurance adjusters.

*Read the fine print before signing anything! Be careful not to sign away future compensation upon receipt of the first check.

*If a settlement offer is clearly unfair, don’t accept it.

Learning a few simple principles in advance can save you a bundle, should disaster strike.  Speak with your insurance agent to gain a better understanding of your homeowner’s insurance needs.

FIVE THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT YOUR CONDO ASSOCIATION’S INSURANCE

A condominium unit-owner usually has her own insurance policy that covers her for loss of her personal belongings, parts of the building that the condominium agreement makes her responsible for insuring, the additional cost of living elsewhere after a fire damages her unit, and her legal liability for injuries or damages suffered by others. In turn, the condominium association has its own policy, which may cause some unit-owners to wonder why they have to buy separate insurance. Doesn’t the association’s insurance cover the same things that her policy does? Depending on the property at issue, the answer is maybe yes and maybe no. Insurance companies designed the two types of policies to complement each other in some cases and to overlap in others. Here are five things unit-owners should know about their associations’ insurance.

The association’s policy covers the building. Depending on the wording in the contract between the association and the unit-owner, the word “building” may mean several different things. If the contract requires the association to insure them, “building” can include fixtures, improvements and alterations that are part of the building and that are within a unit. For example, if a unit-owner installs new track lighting or an attached island in the kitchen, the association’s insurance would cover the cost of repairing or replacing them after a loss. Also if the contract requires, the association’s insurance will cover various appliances such as refrigerators, stoves and dishwashers.

The association’s policy covers personal property “owned indivisibly by all unit-owners.” Furniture in the building’s lobby, hand carts and other moving devices, and exercise equipment in an exercise room available to all residents are examples of the types of property that the association’s policy insures.

The association’s policy does not cover the unit-owner’s personal property. A unit-owner must buy her own insurance to cover her furniture, electronics, clothing and other belongings. Assume, for example, that the condominium contract requires the association to insure appliances. If fire damages a unit-owner’s space, the association’s insurance will cover the refrigerator but not the sofa. The unit-owner’s policy will cover the sofa. The association’s policy also does not cover an individual unit-owner’s legal liability for injuries or damages suffered by others. The unit-owner needs her own insurance to provide for her legal defense and to pay any judgments.

It is possible that both policies may apply to the same item of property. In the above example, both the association’s and unit-owner’s policies may cover the refrigerator. In that situation, the association’s policy will apply first; if it does not completely pay for the repair or replacement, the unit-owner’s policy will cover the balance. For example, if the cost of replacing the refrigerator is $5,000, and for some reason the association’s policy covers only $4,000, the unit-owner’s policy will pay the other $1,000 (the example doesn’t include deductibles that may apply.)

The association’s insurance company will not try to get its money back from a unit-owner. Suppose a unit-owner left a candle burning overnight and the unwatched candle caused a fire that damaged part of the building. Many types of insurance policies would allow the insurance company to pay its customer for the damage, then try to recover its payment from the person who caused the damage. However, a condominium association policy specifically states that the company waives its right to recover from a unit-owner. It still has the right to seek recovery from a person who is not a unit-owner and is responsible for the damage.

While comprehensive, the association’s policy is no substitute for a unit-owner’s own insurance. Unit-owners should work with professional insurance agents to ensure that they have the proper coverage.

HOME BUYERS: MAKE SECURING HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE A TOP PRIORITY

At long last, your loan package has been approved, your closing date is just days away, everything you own has been packed, and all that remains is a quick call to your insurance agent to line up a homeowner’s policy. That’s when the bad dream can begin.

Your agent may inform you that your new home is uninsurable because of a history of insurance claims filed by the previous owner. Despite home inspections and various required real estate disclosures, this could happen to you.

Securing homeowner’s insurance used to be one of the last tasks a buyer undertook before closing. In reality, it should be one of the first.

Before issuing a policy, insurers always check a property’s claims history. Water damage claims are red flags, of course, but homeowners can also set off alarms simply by inquiring about their coverage, without ever filing a claim.

Most insurance companies research past claims through a shared database called CLUE, which stands for Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange. When you apply for homeowner’s insurance, the insurer will request a CLUE report to ascertain whether you or the seller have filed any claims during the past five years. Even if you currently own a home and have a squeaky-clean claims history, if you buy a house with multiple claims filed against it, you may not be able to obtain insurance coverage.

Regrettably, you cannot order a CLUE report if you are not the homeowner. However, you can ask the seller to order a copy of the report as a contingency to your offer.

If you are ever denied insurance because of past claims, you can request a free copy of your CLUE report. In the event of a dispute with your insurer, you have the right to ask that your account of the events be included in the report. If you are simply curious about your home’s history, you can order a copy from ChoicePoint, the company that manages the CLUE database.

It pays to spend the time and effort to educate yourself about homeowner’s insurance when seeking affordable coverage. Consider the following ideas:

  • Learn the rules regarding homeowner’s insurance renewals in your state. Regulators of some states exercise   control over when an insurer can refuse to renew your coverage.
  • Pay for small losses yourself. Insurers take notice of customers submitting frequent small claims.
  • Think twice before calling your agent or insurance company. When you place a call, the insurer opens a claims file on you regardless of whether you actually file a claim.
  • Increase your deductible and consolidate insurers. To reduce your homeowner’s insurance premium, consider raising your deductible. Also, most insurers offer discounts if you insure both your car and home with them.
  • Examine your credit record. In addition to your past claims history, insurers often use your credit score to determine whether to issue you a policy.

3 Ways to Protect Yourself From Home Invasion While You Are On Vacation

Finally getting away for some r&r should be a great feeling – and it can be when you take the necessary steps. Here are three great ways to help keep your home safe while you enjoy some much needed time away.

1. Social media
Believe it or not this is one of the quickest ways to invite burglars to your home. While you may be smart enough to not post that you are sipping a Mai Tai with your toes in the sand thousands of miles from home, your kids might not be.

There are a ton of apps out there that specifically market to kids. And even though you may have thought you did your job and set child locks on your childs phone, a conversation can be more effective.

We were recently at the lake house where I had committed to no technology (finally!). My nine year bounced down the stairs and sat next to me. He was on one of his apps, one we set up together that I normally monitor. He had been posting pics of our trip and since I hadn’t checked my phone, I was unaware. I knew to turn off his geo on his phone previously but still, his photos with hashtags were advertising we were away.

I wanted to delete all of the apps and save myself the headache but at the end of the day, that is a bandaid. So we talked about it again instead. We talked about hashtags and what they do. We talked about sharing and when it’s appropriate. And we removed the photos he had posted.

If you do plan to share photos of your trip be sure to include that you are now home in your post ex: “What a great vacation we had but it’s nice to be home”.

2. Be Neighborly
In our neighborhood we make an effort to know each other, to support each other and to look out for one another. Your neighbors are one of your best defenses. Especially the ones who are home all day and night.

Next time you see your neighbor, be sure to say hi. Make an effort and know that you are helping each other. Less crime can help keep the value of your home higher and let’s not forget how much better you will sleep without the experience of a home invasion.

3. Lighting
If a burglar has a choice between a well lit home and a dark home, which do you think he will choose? Automatic lighting or a house sitter are great ways to give the idea that someone is paying attention at home. Outside motion sensor lighting, in the backyard as well, can also be helpful.

We hope you found these tips helpful. If you have more to add – please reply or comment.

Homeowners Policies & Jewelry

After receiving valuable jewelry, it’s important to contact an insurance agent immediately. It’s important to keep in mind that most homeowners policies place limitations on coverage for personal valuable items. This means that owners of these valuable items may not receive the full value if any of the items are stolen or lost. As a general rule, most homeowners policies provide coverage for possessions up to 50 percent of the total coverage amount chosen. This means that a person who has a $600,000 policy would enjoy coverage as much as $300,000.

However, most policies place limitations on certain types of personal belongings. For example, a policy provider may offer to cover $1,500 or more for all jewelry if theft occurs or the jewelry is damaged. There are several other categories of personal belongings that have limited reimbursement terms. Firearms, stamps, furs, coins and silverware are examples of such items. Homeowners should be sure to read the section of their homeowners policies regarding contents and additional coverage. It’s important to remember that accidental loss is not usually covered. This means that a woman who loses her engagement ring will not receive payment from the homeowners insurance company.

Homeowners who want to raise their coverage limit to ensure protection for loss and theft cases should contact an agent immediately. It’s best to ask the agent to schedule the particular jewelry item or add a special rider to an existing policy. In some cases, a written appraisal may be required, so it’s best to ask an agent if this will be necessary. Usually a detailed receipt is sufficient proof for the value of the item. After a value schedule is assigned to the item, the owner has full protection for the total amount if the item is lost, destroyed or stolen. This makes the claims experience more simple since there isn’t a need for an investigation about the item’s value. In addition to this, there is no deductible assigned to the items.

Since additional coverage is so affordable, it’s best for all homeowners who have valuable jewelry or other special items to speak with their agent. Agents are able to make an assessment of what should be insured and provide valuable advice. As a general rule, homeowners policies don’t assign specific limits on electronic devices aside from the overall limit for possessions. It’s best for homeowners to insure their valuable items in such a way as to ensure that replacement-value coverage is in place. To learn more about the various types of riders and affordable coverage options, contact an agent today.

Dealing with Homeowners Policy Exclusions

Property exclusions exist in Sections A and B of a homeowners insurance policy. The following are some of the most important exclusions to be aware of:

 

Collapse If a home collapses, there is no coverage provided unless the cause is included in the list of additional coverage inclusions section.

 

Flood – This is one of the most important exclusions to be aware of. In the eyes of insurers, there is a large difference between water damage and flooding. It’s important to keep in mind that flooding hasn’t been covered in homeowners policies since the 1960s. In 1968, the government implemented the National Flood Insurance Program. Even those who don’t reside in flood zones should have this valuable coverage. Heavy rains and hurricanes often cause flooding in areas that usually don’t see it.

 

Freezing – If heating, air conditioning or plumbing systems freeze, the damage is excluded from a homeowners policy if the dwelling has been vacant or is in the process of construction.

 

Homes Under Construction – When thieves steal property or materials from an unfinished home, the loss is not covered by a homeowners policy.

 

Retaining Walls, Foundations & Nonbuilding Structures – Damage to swimming pools, fences, docks and similar structures from thawing, freezing, weight or pressure of water is not covered by a homeowners policy.

 

Mold, Wet Rot & Fungus – Damage caused by these issues is not covered if it’s due to a sump pump, sump or similar equipment. It also isn’t covered if it’s from a gutter, roof drain, downspout or equipment that is similar.

 

Risks Of Direct Physical Loss – This is the section of a homeowners policy that lists any other exclusions. Some examples of common exclusions are smog, rodents, birds, wear and tear or owned animals. It’s important to read it carefully to fully understand it. If there are any questions or concerns, contact an agent to clarify the terms.

 

Concurrent Causation Exclusions – Homeowners policies explain how loss is handled if a specific cause is covered but another is not.

 

Malicious Mischief & Vandalism – If the dwelling has been vacant for a period exceeding 30 consecutive days prior to the damage or loss, this exclusion exists.

 

Coverage sections A, B, C and D have several exclusions. Loss from any events that take place as a result of law enforcement on the property are excluded. However, endorsements are available to be added to a policy to provide this coverage. Damage or loss from earthquakes or landslides is also excluded. Power failure, neglect, water damage and war are also causes of damage that are excluded.

 

Sections E and F of a homeowners policy provide liability coverage. However, there are several exclusions in those sections to be aware of. Intentional injuries to other people are excluded. The business of an insured person is not covered by a homeowners policy. Premises held for rent, professional services, locations not listed on the homeowners policy, watercraft and motor vehicles are also not covered under a homeowners policy. Liability damages from war, owned aircraft, sexual molestation, abuse, communicable diseases and controlled substances are not covered. Coverage for home day care is very limited under the property section of the policy but is excluded under the liability section.

 

Although these exclusions exist, there are many add-on options available from insurers to provide coverage for such areas. There are also separate insurance policies for some exclusion. Flooding is one example. However, there are some exclusions that simply aren’t covered under insurance policies or additional coverage purchases. Harm to others from controlled substances is an example. The best way to avoid such problems is to take the proper preventative measures to avoid being in a position to suffer loss from any exclusions. The first step to getting coverage for exclusions is to speak with agent. An agent will be able to provide valuable information about extra coverage options and a list of ways to avoid suffering loss from issues that aren’t covered by insurance.

Insurance Checklist for Home Buyers

There are many different issues to consider when looking for the perfect home to purchase. One of the most overlooked issues is insurance coverage. However, it is one of the most important aspects about home ownership. It’s essential for those who are shopping for a home to factor in the cost of insurance. Before going out to look for a home, consider all of the expenses the purchase will incur. There are several other things to do before preparing to sign the final documents.

Get A Credit Report

Everyone is entitled to one free annual credit report. It’s important to review the report for inaccuracies and derogatory information. Dispute any inaccuracies immediately. If a creditor can’t verify a debt, it will be erased from the report. Having good credit makes it much easier to obtain a good interest rate. Good credit also helps individuals qualify for an insurance discount. If a credit report isn’t good, it’s important to take the necessary steps to improve scores and eliminate derogatory information.

Get Renters Insurance

Anyone who is shopping for a home but is currently renting should get renters insurance. It’s important to keep this coverage until a home is purchased. Renters insurance provides protection for renters from the liability of injuries sustained by others while they’re on the property. It also awards compensation if personal belongings are stolen or destroyed.

Research The Nearby Fire Department

One factor affecting insurance that most people don’t think of is the nearby fire department. If the location has permanent staff and has high ratings, the home will cost less to insure. Homes that have nearby fire hydrants also cost less to insure. Adequate water supply, trained firefighters and ample equipment are all important aspects of determining home insurance rates.

Consider Natural Disasters & Bad Weather

Although homes along the coastlines are more desirable, they’re more expensive to insure than inland homes. It’s important to plan on a windstorm or hurricane deductible for a home on a coastline. This amount is not a flat cost. It is a percentage of the estimated cost to rebuild the structure if it is destroyed. These percentage variables usually differ from one state to another. Even if the home is located in a state that doesn’t have a coastal border, it’s important to consider other natural disasters. Flooding and earthquakes are important issues to consider. Be sure to investigate the area’s history of flooding and earthquakes. Keep in mind that these coverage options must be purchased separately.

Know The Home’s Age

While older homes have their own unique beauty, they’re more expensive to insure than newer homes. Since some of the ornate features of older homes are more difficult to replace, the insurance premiums are higher. In addition to this, their plumbing, electrical or gas systems may be old enough that they’re considered risky. If this is the case, they result in a higher insurance premium.

Consider Swimming Pools & Other Features

Homes with swimming pools usually cost more to insure. Since a swimming pool is expensive to replace and poses a safety risk, it is considerably more expensive to insure a home that has one. Hot tubs, saunas and any other features that may pose a liability issue require careful planning for insurance. It may be best to purchase an umbrella policy to ensure liability protection.

There are several other things to consider when looking for a new home. For example, a roof that is new can positively affect insurance rates. However, an older roof that needs repair will cost more to insure. Homes that aren’t up to code also cost more to insure. It’s important to speak with an agent before agreeing to purchase a home. Agents are happy to look over the property’s details to determine how much of a risk the home is. When the time comes to purchase the perfect home, an agent can help arrange ample insurance coverage for the future. 

Filing a Homeowners Claim

It’s necessary to file a claim with the insurance company if a home is destroyed by a storm or a visitor is injured. It’s important to keep in mind that a homeowners policy is a contract held between an insurer and an individual. This means that there are specific procedures and rules to follow. It’s important to thoroughly read an insurance policy to completely understand individual responsibilities. There are a few pointers that every homeowner should remember.

Immediately report all crimes to the police.

It’s important to notify the police of any vandalism, burglary or other crime. Homeowners should also obtain the names of any police officers involved in the report or investigation. It’s also important to write down the names of all law enforcement officers after speaking with them on the phone.

Make all necessary temporary repairs.

Don’t shell out thousands of dollars for full repairs to a damaged property. It’s best to pay only for supplies to temporarily repair or sustain something. For example, if a window is broken, it’s best to pay for boards and nails or tape and cardboard to temporarily repair it. It would be pointless to pay for an entirely new window until after the claim is honored. Homeowners should save all receipts of items purchased for making temporary repairs.

Call an agent immediately.

After calling the police for any crime-related issues, it’s important to call an insurance agent. If the nature of the claim doesn’t involve a crime, phone an agent immediately after discovering the issue that will become a claim. Since there are time limits for some claims, it’s important to follow this advice. Ask the agent what steps must be taken. Agents are also able to provide advice regarding how long the claims process will take.

List all damaged items.

Don’t discard any items that are damaged before the insurance adjuster is able to survey them. Photographs and videotapes are also acceptable forms of proof in most cases. After making an inventory, make a copy for the insurance adjuster.

Obtain the necessary claim forms.

After receiving notification of a claim, an insurance company must send the proper forms to an individual within a specific time period. The best way to avoid delays is to ensure that the paperwork is filled out correctly.

Keep all receipts after relocating. 

Not everyone has to relocate after filing a claim. However, if the dwelling is uninhabitable, it’s important to remember that homeowners insurance has provisions for living expenses to some extent. It’s best to keep receipts in order to show written proof of expenditures.

Homeowners should carefully follow each of these steps. After filing a claim, it’s best to have an insurance adjuster come out as quickly as possible to survey the damage. Most insurance companies arrange for adjusters to visit a residence. To learn more about this process or to obtain answers to other questions, contact an agent.

Protecting a Home from Mold

It’s important to have a plan and routine in order to protect a home from mold. This involves constantly looking for watermarks on ceilings or walls, signs of mold growth and musty smells. If mold is caught early enough, it can be removed with a simple cleaning solution of bleach and water. However, preventing mold from growing again requires that the source of moisture be eliminated. The area where the mold started growing must also be dried properly. In some cases, the surface or area may simply need to be replaced. After cleaning the mold and attacking the source, be sure to place all rags, clothing, materials, paper and other debris affected in a plastic bag to be thrown in the garbage.

Mold is similar to insect infestations and rot in the respect that it is usually not covered under a homeowners insurance policy. Standard policies afford coverage for sudden or accidental disasters. However, they don’t offer coverage for cleaning or maintaining a home. If the mold is a direct result of a burst pipe or other covered peril, the insurance company may cover the cost to eliminate the mold.

Since mold is also dangerous, it’s important to tackle the problem immediately if it arises. Mold can cause family members in the home to become sick. Symptoms are usually similar to allergic reactions or hay fever. The best way to avoid all of these problems is to take steps to prevent mold. The following steps can be taken to prevent mold from growing.

Reduce Humidity Level
It’s best to keep the humidity level between 30 percent and 60 percent by utilizing dehumidifiers and air conditioners. Be sure to place exhaust fans in all bathrooms and kitchens. If carpet is desired, avoid installing it in bathrooms or kitchens. It’s best to have carpet only in rooms that aren’t exposed to moisture on a regular basis. Another important thing to remember is to avoid letting water pool and collect under house plants.

Check & Replace Hoses
Be sure to regularly inspect pipes, fittings and hoses. It’s best to replace hoses to appliances that use water every five years. At about $5 or $10 per piece, the cost of replacing hoses is much less expensive than dealing with a major mold problem.

Use Mold-Reducing Products
Clean all bathrooms in the home with bleach and water regularly. There are also several other cleaning products available that are designed to kill mold. It’s a good idea to add mold inhibitors to paint before applying it to the walls or doors.

Exercise Caution After Water Damage
If at any time a large amount of water comes into contact with the home’s interior, it’s important to ensure that carpets, upholstery and any other surfaces that hold water are dried thoroughly and promptly. Everything should completely dry within 24 to 48 hours following the initial water contact. Items that can’t be dried should be discarded. If there is standing water, remove it promptly. In addition to promoting mold growth, standing water is a prime breeding ground for microorganisms. After all areas have been dried, wash and disinfect them well. This includes the surfaces of appliances, closets, walls, shelves, floors, heating systems and cooling systems.

Check The Roof & Gutters
Another way to prevent mold is to check the roof and gutters frequently. Clear the gutters of any debris. If there are any leaks in the roof, have them repaired immediately to avoid water seeping into the home.

While mold is problematic, it can be prevented with proper care. For any questions about mold and the specific terms of an individual homeowners insurance policy, contact an agent.

How to Avoid Post-Disaster Scams

Homeowners must exercise caution after their homes are destroyed by fires, tornadoes or other disasters. There are many dishonest scam artists and service providers who are ready to take advantage of distressed homeowners. They know that individuals who have just experienced such a great loss due to disaster are in a panicked state of mind. Since homeowners in such situations aren’t thinking clearly, scam artists are able to get the money they want. In order to avoid such a fiasco, simply avoid making rash decisions by talking to an agent immediately following a disaster to get a list of reliable service providers. When disaster strikes, this will make it easier to know who to turn to. In addition to obtaining a list from an agent, consider the following tips for hiring service providers.

Builders & Roofers
Avoid rushing when hiring a builder or roofer. It’s better to obtain business cards and written estimates from several service providers before making a decision. Make sure to ask for references and check them. Research the track records of the companies or individuals being considered for the job. It’s best to use professionals who have good reputations. One way to find a list of such individuals is to contact the Better Business Bureau. Individuals earn a place on this list by being honest and providing quality work. One scam that is common in building and roofing involves a service worker asking for an extremely large deposit to begin working. After starting the job, the individual or company will disappear. Never do business with anyone who asks for a large sum of money upfront.

It’s also important to beware of contractors who are pushy about spending a lot of money for temporary repairs. The purpose of temporary repairs is to provide a cheap and temporary fix. Payments for temporary repairs are covered in the total settlement from the insurance company. Homeowners who pay service providers large amounts of money for temporary repairs usually find that they don’t have enough to cover the cost of permanent repairs. A good service provider will offer reasonable rates for temporary and permanent repairs. Whether obtaining temporary or permanent work, be sure to keep receipts for services received in a safe place. Always ask an agent when in doubt about repair quotes.

Attorneys & Public Adjusters
Never make hasty decisions about hiring someone to handle an insurance claim. It’s especially important to be careful about individuals who offer their services by door-to-door soliciting following a catastrophe. Never let any company or individual use scare tactics to encourage a quick signature for immediate services. If such people surface in the aftermath of a disaster, they will likely victimize anyone who is willing to agree to their terms. These individuals usually offer quick or immediate service, which homeowners feel desperate for after a disaster. However, their efforts to make quick money usually leave victimized homeowners without enough money to pay for permanent repairs. Keep in mind that quality repairs take time to obtain after a major disaster.

Another thing to remember is that it’s best to settle a claim directly with the insurance company before considering using the services of a public adjuster or attorney. Insurance companies provide their adjuster’s services to policyholders for free. Be sure to ask an agent to help with filing a claim, and never hesitate to ask questions. Individuals who agree to work directly with the insurance company still retain the right to hire a third-party professional for help, so there is nothing to lose by working directly with the insurance company. If the claim is complicated and the services of an attorney are desired, make sure the individual selected is qualified. Ask around the community for advice about which attorneys are best. Another place to check for reliable advice about which attorneys are reliable is the county’s Bar Association. Keep in mind that attorneys ask for about 30 percent of the settlement, and public adjusters usually require 15 percent. The key idea to remember after any disaster is to contact an agent before making any decisions.