CHOCTAW, Okla. -- Earlier this month, we introduced you to numerous Oklahomans who had brand name insurance coverage but have had to hire attorneys to get what they feel is a fair settlement after their homes were damaged by tornadoes.
We've now uncovered yet another option for homeowners who find themselves battling their insurance companies.
We all know when you have a damage claim, your insurance company sends out an adjuster to inspect your loss; that adjuster works for the insurance company
Did you also know there are public adjusters?
These are adjusters who work strictly for the homeowner.
May 10, 2010, a twister ripped through Choctaw.
Kurt and Cheryl McKean went to a neighbor's storm shelter.
"Everybody jumped in the storm shelter. It lasted about 18 seconds and yes, they do sound like a train," Kurt McKean said.
The McKeans came out of the shelter to find their home heavily damaged and everything inside destroyed.
"We went from a beautiful, perfect home to just shock and awe," McKean said.
Overwhelmed by dealings with their insurance company, the McKeans got a call from Alice Young.
"We know how to increase a claim because that's what we do every day," Young said, with Brown O'Haver.
"I'd never heard of a public adjuster in my life. I had no idea what they were," McKean said.
McKean's list of contents from his damaged home for his insurance company was about two pages long.
It was vastly different once Brown O'Haver was done.
"It was a book, it was basically a novel. I mean it really was," McKean said.
Public adjusters do that by literally digging through every piece of rubble to find damaged items the homeowner may have overlooked.
By law, they can only work for the policy holder.
They must be licensed and bonded and are regulated by the insurance commissioner.
These adjusters can do forms for the homeowner and act as the go between with the insurance company.
"We're going to be a little bit more on them. It's going to be a daily thing as opposed to when somebody has time to call them," Young said.
Kent Edwards is with Claim Help Public Adjusting Group.
"Insurance companies, they work for stock holders. I work for policy holders," Edwards said. "This is not a do-it-yourself business."
The McKeans said they probably would've gotten a third of their insurance settlement if they hadn't had their public adjuster.
"They fought the fight and didn't give up until the end; 'til they got what we deserved and what they felt was fair and what we felt was fair," McKean said.
Public adjusters do not charge any money up front.
They charge a percentage of the claim settlement, usually between 10 and 15 percent?
But most claim they can get you 30 to 40 percent more, simply by being extremely thorough and doing things the homeowner doesn't understand or doesn't have time to do.