Public Adjusters Educational Content
WHAT IS A PUBLIC ADJUSTER?
If you have filed an insurance claim before, you are probably familiar with insurance adjusters. When you file a claim with an insurance provider, you typically work with an adjuster. That adjuster is employed by the insurance company. Their job is to represent the company’s interests and settle your claim at the same time.
Public insurance adjusters, on the other hand, are not employed by or affiliated with an insurance company. They are independent. This means that they can represent you and your interests objectively as your claim is investigated and settled. Some public adjusters run their business as a small, one-person operation. Others are employed by larger public adjusting firms. Public adjusters most frequently work with homeowners’ insurance, property loss, and disaster-related claims.All public insurance adjusters must be licensed and bonded. They must also attend continuing education courses to maintain their certification. Public adjusters are employed by the homeowner. This eliminates any conflicts of interest in the adjuster’s dealings with the insurance company. A higher settlement amount isn’t a guarantee when you use a public adjuster. You will, however, have a better chance of receiving the financial outcome you’d prefer.
THE CLAIMS PROCESS
When disaster strikes, try to file an insurance claim as promptly as possible. Once you’ve filed the claim, your insurance provider will send an adjuster to your home. The adjuster will assess the damage and use that information to put together a settlement amount. The exact amount of the proposed settlement will depend on the damage as well as the specifics of your homeowners’ insurance policy.
If you’re trying to handle the claims process alone, you may feel pressured to accept the settlement from your insurance company on the spot. The good news is that if you decide to take this route, you can still engage the services of a public adjuster later on. This can help ensure that your claim was handled fairly and that the settlement was appropriate based on the damage that occurred. State laws vary in terms of how much time you can take to reopen a claim. Your chances of a successful claim renegotiation are much better if you reopen the claim promptly. If possible, reopen the claim as soon as it’s closed by the insurance company. When a lot of time passes before the claim is reopened, your public adjuster is more likely to run into limitations while reaching a new settlement. If you already plan to use a public adjuster to help you with the insurance claims process, call that person first. Once you’ve made that call, then contact your insurance company. This will avoid the insurance company’s adjuster getting involved in the claims process.
HOW PUBLIC ADJUSTERS HELP
Insurance policies and claims are complicated under normal circumstances. They become even more complex when the stress of a home disaster is added. If you accidentally give incorrect information or fail to show proper documentation of the damage, your claim could be denied. Public adjusters help lessen the burden of putting your home back together after a disaster. They are experts at navigating the insurance claims process. In fact, handling homeowners’ insurance claims is their full-time job. This means that public adjusters have the time to devote to pursuing your claim closely.
If your house has been significantly damaged, you might be seeking a large financial settlement. In these circumstances, you may benefit from hiring an experienced public adjuster to handle the claims process for you. Even in cases of property damage that doesn’t appear to be severe, a public adjuster will have experience in handling similar claims. Because of their experience, they’ll be better equipped to more fully investigate the damage to your home. Your adjuster will then file a detailed claim on your behalf to cover the full extent of the damage. Keep in mind that public adjusters do not perform restoration work or coordinate home service contractors. Your public adjuster will, however, handle all documentation related to your insurance claim. They will also communicate with your insurance company on your behalf and do everything they can to make sure you receive a fair settlement.
HIRING A PUBLIC ADJUSTER
Some public adjusters offer complimentary initial visits to assess your home and survey the extent of the damage. Take the opportunity to interview a few firms or individuals (if the circumstances allow). It’s in your best interest to do your due diligence. During the interview, ask about the following important points:
Licensure. Public adjusters must be licensed to practice in your state. If the adjuster says they have a reciprocal licensure agreement with another state, they must still hold a current license in your state.
Firm size. There are advantages to both small and large public adjusting firms. Find out whether you’ll be working with one person or a team so you know what to expect and who to contact with questions.
Experience. Most public adjusters have lots of experience with residential property damage-related claims, but not all do. An adjuster’s area of expertise may be water damage claims, for example, instead of claims concerning fire and smoke damage. Detailed experience with and knowledge about the damage you’re dealing with is helpful in negotiating the claim. Ask about the adjuster’s experience with the specific type of claim you need their help with.
Fees. Your first consultation with a public adjuster may be complimentary, but if you hire them, their work will be subject to fees. Most public adjusters charge a part or percentage of the final settlement you receive from your insurance provider. Your state can set limits on this amount. Florida public adjusters, for example, may not charge fees of more than ten percent of the settlement amount for damage claims made during the first year following a governor-declared state of emergency. Ask your adjuster to explain their fees, preferably in writing. Also ask how they accept payment.
When you hire a public adjuster, that person will want to see all paperwork related to your current homeowners’ insurance policy. If those documents were destroyed, check your insurance provider’s online customer portal. You can also call your insurance provider and ask them to send you new copies of the documents.