What is the difference between public adjusters and the adjuster assigned to my claim from the insurance company?
Company, or “staff” adjusters are employed by your insurance company, and so-called “independent” adjusters work only for insurance companies on a contract hiring basis. Company/staff and independent adjusters are hired and paid by and report only to insurance companies, not policyholders. They will be assigned by your insurance company to work on your claim, but they are there as the insurance company’s representative... not yours. Public adjuster's represent only the interests of the policyholder.*
Why would I need a public adjuster?
Many people describe their insurance claim experience as a full time job. The claim process involves legwork, paper work, basic math, insurance lingo, and negotiation. Listing, describing and valuing everything that was damaged or destroyed, meeting with adjusters, inspectors and contractors and reviewing reports and estimates is time consuming and labor-intensive. On top of that, negotiating a fair claim settlement can be very challenging - especially after an emotionally devastating catastrophe.
Claim adjusting is art, not science. If you rely completely on your insurance company to calculate the amount of damage and what you’re owed, you’re unlikely to recover a full or fair settlement. The insurance company sends out their own staff adjuster or “independent” adjuster, and their handpicked contractor, whose job it is to define a scope of the damage and estimate the costs to repair or rebuild your home. They measure the loss for the insurance company, not for you. This matters because big dollars are at stake and your financial goals and the insurers’ financial goals are not the same. You want your loss to be accurately measured, you want to maximize your insurance coverage and recover every dime you’re owed. Many people hire their own experts/contractors to measure and value damage independently from the insurance company.*
What does a public adjuster do?
Public adjusters are insurance claim experts that work for you to represent your interest in the settlement of the claim. Public adjusters will manage your insurance claims process from start to finish. They meet with your adjuster, communicate with the adjuster and insurance company, document your damages, negotiate with your insurance company, ensure contractor estimate/ invoice compliance, and inventory your personal or business property. Public adjusters work hard to save you time and obtain a larger claim settlement for you. This allows you to focus your time on other things like re-opening your business or getting your house livable once again.
Won't I actually be getting paid less after the fee to the public adjuster is paid?
Typically a public adjuster's fee is more than made up for by a larger claim payment and the time savings provided to the policyholder.
In fact, according to a study conducted by The State of Florida policyholders who used public adjusters received an estimated $9,379 on their claim, compared to $1,391 for those policyholders that did not use a public adjuster (a difference of 574%).**
I would rather work with a local public adjuster. Is there a risk with working with a public adjuster not local to my area?
During large events, local resources are strained to the extreme. As a result, resources from elsewhere are required in order to complete repairs and claims. In fact, your insurance company's adjuster and mitigation company likely are not from your local area either. Ask the public adjuster if they are staying in your area throughout the storm event and if they are licensed by your state Department of Insurance.
Do insurance companies ever discourage claimants from hiring a Public Adjuster, and if so, why?
This happens all the time. Insurance companies don’t want the insured to be on an even playing field. They want to control the situation and not deal with someone as or more knowledgeable than they are. Insurers are predisposed to minimize claim payments. Public adjusters are predisposed to maximize claim payments.*
My contractor said he has experience with insurance claims and he will take care of things. Why not just let him deal with the insurance company adjuster?
Contractors and social service agency Case Managers are not authorized to represent you in insurance claim negotiations, nor are they professionally licensed or regulated by your state insurance department/agency to do so. A lawyer can represent you in claim negotiations, but generally speaking, it doesn’t make economic sense to hire one to adjust your loss.*
How do I know this is not a scam?
Public adjusters are licensed by the state's Department of Insurance and typically required to have surety bonds on file as an added layer of consumer protection. Do not hesitate to ask a public adjuster to see their license or prove they have a surety bond. Also, reputable public adjusters never ask for upfront payment or fees and only get paid after you receive settlement from the insurance company.
**Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability Report No. 10-06
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