Catastrophe Prevention and Response

A conversation with Russell Oyer, Independent Catastrophic Property Insurance Adjuster, AMERIND’s Property Damage Third-Party Adjuster (TPA)

Catastrophic events can devastate communities and turn people’s lives upside down. That’s why AMERIND goes the extra mile to find ways to insure their members and customers with coverage and pay them when disasters happen. This approach makes us different from other insurance providers; we look for ways to pay for claims instead of denying them.

We insure Tribes and businesses throughout Indian Country, with many of our customers living in rural areas. Rural locations often provide additional challenges when responding to accidental or natural disasters claims. It takes longer for police or fire departments to respond to emergencies, and the distance for suppliers increases the cost to rebuild, especially with rising costs due to inflation.

We rely on dependable partners who are passionate about helping people, such as third-party adjusters like Russell Oyer. He’s often the first boots on the ground. Even while a fire is still raging or while the eye of a hurricane is just approaching, he is there to help our clients through the claims process and quickly get them the money they need.

WHO IS RUSSELL OYER?

Russell is an Independent Catastrophic Property Insurance Adjuster who has known some of the AMERIND team for over 15 years and worked with us over the past 4 years. Russell says, “I chase storms,” meaning he assesses property damage for our insurance clients after natural disasters or a total loss due to human mistake and reports the information to us. Our members and customers are not insurance experts, and many have never filed a claim. He works with our customers to help get their lives back to where they were before the loss while finding everything they are entitled to in-line with their policy. He said, “For me, it’s all about helping people. As an independent adjuster, I can help both sides, with the autonomy to help the customer and be fair to the insurer.”

RUSSELL’S TOP 3 PROPERTY AND CASUALTY CLAIMS IN INDIAN COUNTRY

Russell has seen it all working with AMERIND. The top three types of claims he sees in Indian Country are fire, water damage, and wind or snow damage. “There seems to be a lot of accidental dwelling fires,” he says. “Whether it be from space heaters, candles, or kitchen fires. Fires are a huge part of the claims I’ve been doing.” He also says that almost all fires are preventable – candles too close to drapes or space heaters too close to clothes.

RUSSELL’S TIPS TO REDUCE CLAIM FREQUENCY AND SEVERITY

As the intensity of natural disasters has ticked up, Russell and AMERIND work together to help make our clients whole after a catastrophe. We know everything cannot be replaced. We encourage our members and customers to take measures and precautions to prevent accidents from happening. “Be aware of any safety hazards you might have, especially fire hazards and slip-and-falls,” says Russell. “Maintenance of property is a big issue with damages. A lack of maintenance can lead to denial of claims.” Russell also stressed the importance of having adequate insurance limits and adding the right coverages, like making sure you add personal property coverage for your personal belongings. Many customers don’t understand the extent of their coverage and what is included. “Often, I will be out at somebody’s house, and I will find out that they either don’t have adequate insurance limits on the house or property or don’t have any personal property or contents insurance,” he explains. “Let’s say a fire comes through and rages their house, and they find they only have enough insurance to rebuild 25% of their home and no coverage for contents. Once the insurance taps out, the homeowner is responsible for the rest.”

WHAT RUSSELL LIKES ABOUT WORKING WITH AMERIND

The team at AMERIND appreciates working with passionate contractors like Russell, and the feeling is mutual for him. He says, what makes AMERIND different from other insurance carriers is the customer service and genuine concern for the ones who pay the premium. “I find that AMERIND goes out of their way to find ways to get their customers coverage, so that they can get them paid,” says Russell. Truly taking care of the customer is a business model implied by insurance carriers, but not executed by all companies. He says, “AMERIND’s concern about their customers is real. I definitely see it in what they do and in their attitude.” AMERIND’s vision is ‘Tribes Protecting Tribes,’ and Russell has been part of helping AMERIND achieve that vision. “AMERIND seems to have a much better understanding of the more specific needs of the tribes versus the general population,” says Russell. “Along with tribes, the people who live in the houses, whether they’re tenants or own the home, sometimes have struggles, and AMERIND understands that.” He says, “AMERIND goes above and beyond. They are always willing to do everything it takes to handle claims correctly and help their customers rebuild after a disaster.”

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