Engineers: Supporting the Structure of your Property Casualty Claim

The scope of property casualty claims truly runs the gambit. From contents claims after a burglary to hopes for policy limits after a devastating fire, homeowners and flood insurance policies address issues big and small. One big kind of claim that often goes unnoticed involves damage to the foundation and structure of your home. While there are countless kinds of disasters that may jeopardize the structural integrity of your home, it is easy to become more focused on the loss of the visible items you use on a daily basis. While structural fractures may be harder to spot, a strong foundation is the most integral component of your home. As a result, it is important to familiarize yourself with another key player in property casualty claims—the engineer.

Engineers, of course, are experts in the inner workings of machines and their designs. Like lawyers, public adjusters, and other players in your claim, professional engineers are subject to state licensure. Your insurer, your attorney, or even your own suspicion may recommend the use of an engineer in the wake of a property casualty claim. One instance in which this recommendation may arise is after a tornado. Tornados’ winds are strong enough to lift a house. This movement may be minute enough to be invisible to the untrained eye. In order to determine whether or not there has been a shift in damage or how deep a hairline fracture may run, an expert needs to take a look. Another example particularly relevant to Louisiana pertains to flood cases. In repetitive loss properties, the raising of a home may be in order to truly make it “flood-proof.” An engineer can determine if your home is a good candidate.

While the exact nature of an engineering inspection may vary depending on the situation, the means of conclusion-drawing comes down to testing. While an adjuster or contractor may survey the damage, an engineer will run a variety of tests to determine the strength and soundness of your home’s core. This testing can address everything from how deeply water has penetrated to how much stress a structure can handle. The results are further illustrated through measurements, sketches, and mathematical calculations. Together, these findings are compiled into a report and should be signed and stamped by the inspecting engineer. It’s important to share this report with your insurer and attorney and understand how to address any necessary follow ups to keep your household safe. However, the work may not necessarily end there. If what is being alleged in the report feels inaccurate and is negatively impacting your claim as a result, it may be time to consult with an attorney if you have not done so already.

While engineers can be great assets to making sure your home is safe and that your claim is being adequately compensated, there is room for error (and corruption). While engineers are experts in their field, they may not be experts in the nuances of, say, roofing in the way that a seasoned contractor may be. Thus, both parties could produce conflicting reports that slow down progress in your claim. If an engineer has been sent out by your insurance company or a dicey agency, there may be a chance that the entire purpose of this inspection was to deny or minimize your claim. An attorney can help you get a second opinion if matters appear suspect or even help you take legal action. Because structural damage can be pricey to fix, it is important that the highest quality report is rendered in support of your claim.

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