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What Does a Public Adjuster Do, and When Should You Hire One?

June 30, 2019

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When filing a claim with your homeowner’s insurance carrier, you might consider hiring a public adjuster. Their work is especially valuable if you feel your insurance company is “low balling” you or offering a settlement much lower than what you expect or feel you deserve for your losses.

A public adjuster works for a property owner, negotiating with his or her insurance company for the highest payout after a loss. While not all claims might necessitate hiring a public insurance adjuster, their services can ensure a property owner receives the maximum benefit for losses after a theft, fire, flood, vandalism, or other catastrophic events.

If you’re a homeowner, business owner, or commercial property owner, it’s vital that you understand the risks of dealing with an insurance adjuster directly and that you know the benefits retaining your own adjuster! While most insurance companies try to deal fairly and honestly with customers, remember that the less money they pay in claims the more money they keep for themselves.

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Insurance adjusters also only use information provided to them by the policy carrier and policyholder, whereas a public adjuster knows the right questions to ask to ensure a maximum payout. Before you suffer a catastrophic loss, note some vital information about what public adjusters do and when it’s good to retain their services.

What Does a Public Adjuster Do?

Consider some added details about property insurance and especially homeowner’s insurance, including standard coverage options. You might then note a bit more information about adjusters and claims representatives so you can make an informed decision when it’s time to purchase a new policy or file a claim.

  • First note that homeowner’s insurance is not always designed to reimburse property owners for costs incurred after a fire, flood, and the like. Homeowner’s insurance protects a mortgage lender’s investment in that property! Damaged homes have reduced value, sometimes even less than the loan itself, so mortgage lenders require homeowners to carry an insurance policy at least equal to their mortgage loan.
  • Because most basic homeowner’s insurance policies are designed to protect a lender’s investment and nothing else, it’s vital that homeowners ensure they have adequate coverage for loss and damages in case of a storm, fire, or other disaster, and loss or damage to their own belongings in the home.
  • Homeowner’s insurance typically covers five basic areas of reimbursement; dwelling insurance covers damage to the home itself, while “other property” insurance covers damage to structures such as a garage or barn. Personal property insurance reimburses for damage to items inside the home, liability insurance provides protection against damage suffered while on your property, and additional living expenses reimburse you for costs incurred from having to stay elsewhere after damage to your home.
  • An insurance adjuster works for the insurance company to evaluate and manage a homeowner’s claim. They often take on an investigative role, examining details of a claim and collecting evidence the insurance company might use to lower reimbursement amounts.
  • Independent adjusters are hired by an insurance company on a case-by-case basis.
  • Public adjusters work for property owners, helping them prepare their claim and working to ensure the property owner receives a maximum payout after suffering a loss.
  • Public adjusters also negotiate with insurance companies throughout this process, presenting evidence to support a property owner’s requests for reimbursement.
  • Public adjusters are not typically attorneys although they may work with or have relationships with local attorneys who specialize in insurance claims, if a property feels they need to take their insurance company to court to secure a reimbursement.
  • While some public adjusters charge a flat fee, some are paid a certain percentage of a property owner’s reimbursement. The higher the payout, the more they earn!

When to Hire a Public Adjuster

It’s not required or even necessary for a property owner to hire a public adjuster every time he or she needs to file a claim with their insurance carrier. Some claims are relatively simple to document and an insurance carrier might accept proof of payments made to a contractor after a fire or other such loss, reimbursing a homeowner for that full amount without added negotiations or delays.

public adjuster for mold damage insurance claim in Atlanta

However, this isn’t always the case and a homeowner or business owner shouldn’t feel that they are simply “stuck with” the decision made by an insurance carrier, if they disagree with reimbursement amounts offered or feel the carrier is delaying the process for any reason. A public adjuster can assist with proper documentation and other proof needed to verify a property owner’s claim.

Public adjusters can also assist property owners and business owners with complicated details in many insurance policies. For instance, a business owner might need assistance in including income losses as part of their insurance claim and a homeowner might not know how to properly value their personal possessions. If you aren’t sure of what’s included in your policy or struggle to understand various details, hire a public adjuster to help you through the process.

A public adjuster also typically has working knowledge of what’s involved with, as well as average costs of, property repairs after severe damage or catastrophic loss, so he or she can often expedite the claims process. As an example, filing a claim for replacing a broken gate after your neighbor drives into it accidentally might be rather simple, but a homeowner might not know all repairs needed after a house fire or severe storm.

A public adjuster, on the other hand, will typically know that fire or storm repairs must include structural framework, carpeting and its underlying padding, drywall, paint, trim work, and so on. After roof damage, a homeowner might overlook the cost of a complete roof tear-off and disposal fees, whereas a public adjuster knows to include those costs in a claim. In turn, their expertise ensures nothing is overlooked when it comes to reimbursement after severe damage or a catastrophic loss.

How to Find a Qualified Public Adjuster

As with contractors, it’s never recommended that you hire a public adjuster going door-to-door to offer their services after storms or other disasters have moved through an area! A highly-qualified, reputable public adjuster will have enough clients coming to them, so that they don’t need to “drum up” business. An adjuster trying to find clients at home might also be from out of state or otherwise not legally qualified to work, and you might then fall prey to a “take the money and run” scam.

Public adjusters receive licensing from their respective state; ensure you check that their license is valid and up-to-date. Never work with a public adjuster who can’t produce a copy of their license, as working with a valid license is illegal for them; a proper license is also a benchmark of that person’s knowledge and qualifications while losing a license typically indicates past bad behavior!

insurance adjuster in Atlanta

Also, note that a public adjuster might work with other professionals including other adjusters. While you might feel comfortable only having one person on your property or as a contact point, note that dealing with different professionals is not necessarily a bad thing and might also be an indicator of the person’s professionalism.

For instance, another adjuster might have more experience with certain types of property damage such as a fire or storm damage to a roof. A water damage adjuster consulting with a building contractor, as another example, also ensures they have complete understanding of the extent of damage and your expected repair costs.

It’s also good to exercise caution when it comes to an adjuster asking for a large upfront fee. Most adjusters receive a percentage of payouts they secure for clients, as said, and paying a large upfront fee might also make you vulnerable to an unqualified adjuster or a “take the money and run” scam.

Related Questions

Does a public adjuster sue an insurance company?

A public adjuster is not typically an attorney, but note that their services often ensure that a homeowner doesn’t need to sue an insurance company. A public adjuster negotiating with an insurance carrier can mean a proper and fair settlement or payout, so a lawsuit then becomes unnecessary. If you’re a property owner thinking of suing an insurance company, consider at least consulting with a public adjuster first!

Does hiring a public adjuster draw out the claims process?

Rather than prolonging the claims process, a public adjuster often ensures it proceeds as quickly as possible and especially if that adjuster only gets paid after you receive reimbursement! An adjuster typically follows up with insurance companies on a regular basis and knows how to keep your claim from being ignored or neglected.

What if an insurance company says a property owner doesn’t need a public adjuster?

 As a property owner, you have the right to hire a public adjuster as you see fit. While many insurance companies try to work fairly with their customers, hiring a public adjuster is an excellent choice for ensuring you receive maximum reimbursements and that nothing is overlooked in your claim.

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