If your home has experienced significant damage due to wind, hail, fire, or water, you’re going to want to file a claim with your insurer. It’s more common than you think. According to the Insurance Information Institute, at least 5 percent of insured homes file a claim every year. Wind and hail damage is the most common, while fire damage is the most costly.
Filing a claim can take up a lot of your time and energy. The first step of the process, documenting a claim, requires you to make a list of everything you’ve lost and to estimate how much it will cost to repair or replace each item. After that, you still have to negotiate with your insurer about your final payout. One wrong word, and you can get paid less than you are owed. If you want to expedite the process, hire a public claims adjuster.
Public adjusters work on your behalf to document and negotiate your claim. Insurance companies will probably assign you an adjuster, but they represent the company, not you. A public adjuster is your advocate in ensuring you receive the settlement you are owed. If you’re thinking of hiring one, here are a few things you should know:
What do they do?
Many public adjusters used to work for insurance companies, and know all the tricks they pull on their clients. They are experts in insurance policies, as well as the process of filing and adjusting a claim. Most people don’t fully appreciate how time and energy-intensive the process of submitting a claim is. Public adjusters have all the tools and know-how required to maximize your settlement.
The insurance company sent an adjuster to process my claim. Do I still need to hire one?
If you want someone representing your interests, then yes. Insurance companies and policyholders both rely on adjusters to evaluate the loss and determine the final settlement. Not all adjusters are the same, however.
Company adjusters are hired by the insurer and report to them only. They represent the insurer when evaluating claims filed by businesses and individuals. Their goal is to minimize the settlement the company should pay. Meanwhile, a public claims adjuster works on your behalf to process, manage, and negotiate your claim.
Even if you have appropriately documented every loss, you have little to lose when hiring your own adjuster. Often, even the most meticulous of recordkeepers still forget to add something to a claim. A public adjuster is experienced in making an accurate estimate and will think of losses that you might not know about.
How do they get paid?
It depends. Adjusters rarely charge a fee for visiting your home or business and assessing whether your claim is viable. The contract begins once you start working with an adjuster to process your claim.
The average adjuster will charge a percentage of the policyholder’s final settlement. Let’s say you hire a public adjuster with a 12% fee with no caps, and your insurer pays a $200,000 settlement. The public adjuster gets $24,000. Because the adjuster’s final price is tied to the amount of money you receive, they will ensure that you get the best settlement possible.
The bottom line
If you have more questions, you can reach out to any local public adjuster. Make sure to choose an experienced one, and if possible, ask for references so that you can gauge whether to hire one or not.