Podcast Transcript: David Skipton

Here's a transcript of the conversation Mike Sante, managing editor of Interest.com, had with David Skipton, the president of Skipton & Associates.

Mike Sante: Hi, this is Mike Sante of Interest.com. We are talking today with David Skipton, who is the President and Executive General Adjuster of Skipton & Associates. They are an independent public adjuster that is based in Phoenix and has offices from California to Florida.

David, tell me a little bit about what you do. I mean, let us say that you are a homeowner who has suffered a terrible loss from a tornado, or a hurricane, or a wildfire. The insurance agent, the insurance adjuster has come out. They have gone through your – what is left of your house. They said, okay, here is now much we are going to pay you. You look at the check and you say, "My God, this is not enough!" Do they have some recourse?

David Skipton: Yes, Mike. What we find, and what a lot of consumers do not realize, is under all policies written in the United States, they have the right to hire a professional adjuster. A public adjuster to come in and work on their behalf as a consumer advocate to assist them in the valuation of their property in negotiating a fair settlement on their behalf with the insurance company.

Mike Sante: An adjuster from our company would come to their house and again, I hate to say this, or what is left of it. You, would you talk then to the insurance adjuster? Or would you go through the property with them and say "Hey, you missed this. Or, you have undervalued the damage here." Is that how you would do it?

David Skipton: Yes, generally speaking what we would do is we would look at their evaluation. In many cases, we would write our own scope of repair. Then we would contact the insurance company. Ask them to come out for a re-inspection. We would go through and itemize, detailed form every aspect of damage that their estimate overlooked.

When you do it in that manner, it is generally pretty easy to get the insurance company to admit that they made mistakes. They cannot exactly say that they did not make a mistake when they forgot the light on the ceiling that was obviously there. We go through in that manner. Generally, you can get a pretty fair settlement for our clients.

Mike Sante: For example, there are two things that people suffer a loss from. One is the structure. Can you help people get enough money to rebuild what they had when they are looking at a check that just is not going to – is not going to cover but maybe like 70% of the cost to rebuild? Can you really help them get enough money as to build out – to rebuild the house that they had?

David Skipton: Well, providing that they have adequate insurance coverage, well our clients are almost always fully indemnified for the cost of rebuilding their homes.

Mike Sante: The other thing and the other loss that people suffer in these terrible situations are obviously their personal property; their furniture, their clothing, their televisions. How do you help them with that?

David Skipton: Well, it is – that is the area that is probably most underpaid by insurance companies because the insurance company generally will hand that blank personal property forms. Ask them to fill out all of the items that they have lost. Send in a list of the items that are damaged. Well, very few people remember everything that they have got in their homes.

What we do is as a company is we have form sheets with the typical items found in each room in a home. We sit down with our clients. We go through each room in their home. We do a map layout of the house so on a room by room basis on a wall by wall basis. We go through and we say like what was on this wall? They might say it was a sofa. I said, okay, great. Was there a picture over it or something? What was to this side of the couch?

We go through and help jog their memory and having a listing of the type of property that is typically found in the living room. It is very helpful to jogging their memories on everything they had. We find that we usually can make sure that they get fully indemnified for their loss with our systems. That is the kind of assistance the insurance companies do not provide their consumers.

Mike Sante: Just to make absolutely clear. When you are working on someone’s behalf, you are the one who is negotiating and talking to the insurance company. The person who suffered this loss and is sort of facing this colossus insurance company; and has never had to deal with this kind of thing before in their life. You are there to be the one who deals with insurance companies every day and knows how they work. You are the one who can negotiate on their behalf. Is that correct? Because you are not just giving them numbers, right?

David Skipton: Yes, that is correct. Our people are all trained in insurance coverage. We know what the policy’s coverages are and how they are to be applied. We are specialists in damage evaluation. We now know how to properly evaluate the damage and the cost to rebuild.

We are the people that can actually argue with the insurance adjuster or negotiate, I would say, on the consumer’s behalf to make them realize what the actual costs are going to be for a restoration of the property. Try and negotiate a fair settlement.

Mike Sante: I suspect there are lots of homeowners out there who have been in this position. That would be happy to have had someone to really get in there and argue with those insurance companies. Now, last is that this is not free. Obviously, you guys work on some kind of contingency plan, right. How do you get paid for the work that you do on behalf of consumers?

David Skipton: Well, most public adjusters work on a contingency fee basis. That is generally a small percentage of what the overall claim is. I would say that the typical fee on a residential loss is probably in the neighborhood of about ten percent. However, when there is a large dispute over the amount of damages that is a small price to pay to get paid fairly for the loss.

Mike Sante: I suspect that there are probably a lot of people who would agree with that. We have been talking with David Skipton who is the president of Skipton & Associates. A public adjuster firm who works on behalf of customers of insurance companies who have suffered losses and are trying to make sure they get their fair shake. Thank you very much, David.

David Skipton: Thank you.