The following morning, their son managed to get into the neighborhood,
now being guarded by police. As he walked up the driveway, while being
bombarded by news reporters asking questions, he realized, almost in disbelief,
that their home was gone. He called his mother with the devastating news.
Everything they owned was gone.
They had joined hundreds of other San Diego County residents who no
longer had a home. Qualcomm Stadium, where the San Diego Chargers played,
was swiftly converted into a central meeting place and refuge for those
who had been burned out and/or evacuated. At Qualcomm, Mrs. B met with
representatives of her insurance company. They quickly cut two checks to
help them get through the immediate disaster. Mrs. B was overwhelmed with
Approximately three weeks later, the insurance company cut another large check –
the full maximum – that was allocated to replace their personal possessions and
belongings. Mrs. B was very impressed with how friendly and helpful the insurance
company was. They didn’t have to show an inventory list or justify how they came
up with the amount of their possessions. The insurance company made it "easy" and
gave them the maximum payment as specified on their insurance plan.
About a month later, after the family had found temporary housing, they began
to face very troubling issues with the insurance company. They had decided they
would not rebuild on their existing lot because the possible threat of another
fire at some point in time. Because of this, the insurance company was only
willing to give them the policy limit, the very limit that they had been so
troubled by and attempted to have doubled in the previous two years, a mere
50-percent of the value of their home.
"Working with the insurance company was very frustrating," recalled Mrs. B. "This
was their home-playing field and they knew all the angles. They have their own
language and their own way of doing things. It’s not a process that’s easy for a
homeowner to understand or navigate their way through. The whole insurance
experience was so stressful that it impacted every aspect of our daily lives and
almost destroyed our marriage."
After months of jumping through hoops, she said they realized that they needed
someone to help them. Following up on recommendations from the local nonprofit
Fire Victims activist group, they met with Kim Cary, a Public Claims Adjuster.
They had interviewed some other Public Claims Adjusters but they didn’t seem to
be as knowledgeable or trustworthy as Ms. Cary. In addition, Kim Cary’s company
was local and they weren’t seeking an inflated commission that the other Public
Adjuster companies were.
"Kim took this huge monster off our backs and freed us up to start making the
difficult decisions we were forced to put off while dealing with insurance issues,"
says Mrs. B. "From the moment we turned our case over to her, we were able to
actually breathe for the first time in months."
According to Mr. B., "Kim was a godsend. She was calm, cool, and collected.
She knew how to deal with the insurance company and its representatives – she
knew what they were going to say and was able to make our voices heard and respected."
The insurance company hired a contractor to write an estimate based upon the
original plans. That did not cover the improvements that they had made. They
then hired their own firm to do their own scope of loss that more accurately
reflected the true amount of money needed to rebuild.
However, their policy limit only covered half of the total needed to properly
replace the home and its extensive and landscaping. But because they had
personally spoken to the agent twice about raising the limit, and also based
upon the scope of loss, the company eventually conceded to an extra payment
that covered a large percentage of what was needed. However, they were still
short. Kim again stepped in.
"Because of her dedication, phone calls and face-to-face meetings between
the contractors and adjusters, Kim was able to settle our claim. She negotiated
and successfully obtained another large check for us from the insurance company."
"Our insurance company made life almost unbearable for 18 months, " explains
Mrs. B. "It was bad enough that we lost everything we had – our beautiful home,
antiques passed down generation to generation, the kid’s toys, everything.
It’s a loss of unimaginable proportion. It happens though and we understand
that. The loss is something we’ve learned to deal with. What we lacked was
the energy and wherewithal when it came to dealing with our insurance company.
Thank you, Kim, for a great job in getting us adequate compensation."