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There are few things as stressful and time consuming as filing an insurance claim after a disaster. In addition to managing the emotions and repercussions of the accident itself, you now have to worry about a whole new set of factors. This is one of the primary reasons that many people choose to hire a public adjuster, also known as a claims adjuster or insurance adjuster, to help with their insurance claim.

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Public Adjuster What You Need To Know

A public adjuster is a professional that specializes in insurance claims. They help you interpret the specifics of your policy and work directly with the insurance company on your behalf. Indeed, this is one of the primary reasons that people prefer to seek the help of a claims adjuster. Unlike adjusters hired by insurance companies to assist with claims, public adjusters work for you and not the insurance company.

Though it is not always in your best interest to hire a public adjuster, it is in many different situations below. The information below discusses more of what a claims adjuster is, what they do, when you might need their services, and the many benefits that they provide. Having a firm understanding of these different things will help you decide whether a public adjuster is right for you and your particular insurance claim.

What Is a Public Adjuster?

As mentioned above, a public adjuster is simply an insurance claims specialist that works with you to get the most possible out of your insurance policy. They help you interpret this policy, assess how much damage was caused and what its cost will be to repair, and then negotiate with your insurance company until the claim is settled.

Claims adjusters come in all different shapes and sizes as you might expect. Although almost all of them specialize in insurance claims, you will likely find ones that sub-specialize in different sorts of claims. If you want the best insurance help possible, it is key to find an adjuster with knowledge and experience with the specific type of claim you are making.

Once again, it is necessary to note that public insurance adjusters work for you. They have your best interests in mind and are not in cahoots with an insurance company. Unfortunately, this loyalty means that you have to pay their fees yourself, out of your own pocket. Your insurance company won’t pay to have a public claims adjuster work on your claim, however, it is important to note that their settlements are often as much as 70% more than what the insurance company offered to begin with.

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What Do Public Adjusters Do?

One of the most important things that you can do to decide whether or not hiring an adjuster for your insurance claim is right for you is to understand exactly what one of these professionals does. In short, they handle your insurance claim from start to finish, helping you sort out each step. Of course, you can choose to receive different levels of help. You can have your adjuster help you with only the basics or handle every single little piece of your claim.

The easiest way to understand what a public adjuster does with your insurance claim is to look at their process. The standard process that might be used includes:

 

Inspection

Inspection: One of the first steps of the public adjusting process is inspecting the insurance policy. Your adjuster will go over your policy in length to work out the details. It is important for them to understand every aspect of your claim so that you can get the most possible out of it. Looking over your claim helps them get a solid idea of what exactly is covered and what your coverage limits are.

Necessitating

Necessitating: The next step that will likely be taken is necessitating. This is simply when your adjuster assesses the situation surrounding your claim. It is where your policy and your specific incident come together. They look at these together to come up with a plan for further action. The claim is meticulously documented and packaged. This is sent to your insurance company for review. The claim often highlights key issues involving your incident that can be potentially used in the future to dispute or deny the claim.

Negotiation

Ideal World: If everything works out perfectly, then a public adjuster’s work would be done by now. Unfortunately, we don’t live in such an ideal world. Chances are high that the insurance company won’t respond with a reasonable payout. Instead, negotiation will likely follow.

Negotiation: In an insurance claim, negotiation most often occurs when the adjuster/their client (you)_ feels that the proposed payout is not high enough. Negotiation involves pushing the payout higher. Claims adjusters typically represent their clients during these negotiations and use industry based knowledge and training to get the best deal possible. It is also possible to re-open a claim if additional damages or issues are identified at this point. In most states you have up to 2 years to dispute a settlement that you are unhappy with.

Insider Knowledge

Insider Knowledge: Insurance adjusters often offer additional advice about their client’s insurance coverage and policy. After a claim is finished, an adjuster might share their knowledge involving the structure of the client’s insurance policy. Common areas of concern are usually items like increasing coverage limits to improve consumer protection in the future, deferred maintenance and tricky policy language.

 

Once again, using a public adjuster for your insurance claim is by no means required. It is possible to go about your claim without one. However, it is very important to remember that your insurance company is a “for profit business” and they will most certainly be hiring professionals to help them with an outcome that cuts their losses. You are now allowed to do the same in most states and it makes sense, at the very least, to explore that option.

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When You Need Their Services?

There is no one right time to hire a public adjuster. Indeed, it is different for everyone. Some people are better off not hiring one at all. At the same time, many people decide to hire one no matter the circumstances simply because they don’t want to deal with the insurance claim process themselves or don’t have the time to.

However, there are a couple of guidelines that you can keep in mind while making your decision. The most important of these is a general rule of thumb that recommends hiring a claims adjuster if you estimate losses of $10,000 or more. In these cases, you are well advised to hire an adjuster to make sure your interests are protected.

Additionally, it is worth gauging how your insurance company reacts to your claim. If the adjuster that they are using responds to your calls promptly and answers questions promptly, you might be fine working only with them. If they don’t, on the other hand, you are probably better off getting your own public adjuster.

Most insurance companies are reputable businesses that use experienced adjusters. However, you might occasionally come across a company that is using an adjuster without adequate experience. In these cases, hiring your own claims adjuster is also advised. Using one with plenty of experience is necessary so that they know that they are doing when it comes to packaging your claim for review.

Top Reasons to Hire a Public Adjuster

There are any number of reasons to hire a public adjuster to help you with your insurance claim. For one thing, you are probably worried about the wellbeing of your home and your family, especially if your loss was large. Why risk anything by not working with a professional? You deserve to get all of what you are entitled to from your claim. Professional assistance makes things easier and far less stressful. That’s the plain and simple of it.

Rather than giving the reasons why hiring a claims adjuster is a good idea, it is easier to refute the reasons that some people give not to hire one of these professionals. Doing this makes the benefits of hiring an insurance adjuster all the more clear.

  • Maximizing the Settlement: Many people that are against hiring a claims adjuster use the argument that they can’t actually maximize your claim because all they can do is to bring your property back to the state it was in before your loss. Of course, this is in line with the principles of insurance, but studies across the United States show that people that use adjusters for their claims actually do receive higher claim payouts.
  • Paid a Percentage of Payout: Another common argument against adjusters is that they are paid a portion of your recovery. This is definitely true but this is also clear to most of those using these professionals. It is expected to pay a fee for their services. In fact, most public adjusters are paid on a contingency fee basis only. This means that you do not pay them an hourly rate or an upfront fee. You only are required to make a payment when your claim is fully processed and you have approved the settlement offer. Only after that has occurred, is the agreed upon percentage amount paid out. This helps protect you from insurance adjusters that do not work hard enough on your claim. If they are not successful, they are not paid.
  • Grief: The grief caused by loss is multifaceted. It is caused both by the traumatic loss itself and the actions of the insurance company. It usually isn’t one or the other that causes the feelings of grief, but that emotion can often get in the way of a smooth claims process. Using a public adjuster can help counteract some of the grief of working with your insurance company. It will help ensure that you get what you deserve from the company and nothing less. It will also help you feel assured that you are getting what your insurance policy promises.

At the end of the day, a public adjuster prevents the conflict that naturally arises when one side attempts to represent both sides of a financial situation. This is the case of an insurance company that provides their own adjuster to help you with your claim. Most people don’t feel that this makes sense. Hiring your own claims adjuster is a much more intuitive notion to the majority of people.

Hiring a Public Adjuster

If you have suffered a residential loss recently, then it might be in your best interest to hire a public adjuster. These insurance professionals do not work for an insurance company and provide a superior job during the claims process which often results in a higher settlement and peace of mind.

Public adjusters make the claim process far less stressful and time consuming. You already have to deal with the disaster itself. Why make things any harder on yourself than they already are?

Though a claims adjuster is not for everyone and every situation, they are often highly beneficial. The information above will help you decide whether or not hiring an adjuster is for you. It will also help you go about finding a great adjuster. Remember that you can always have a public adjuster review your policy and loss before you make a final decision. The best adjusters won’t charge you for these services. They will provide these for free to help you make a decision. You can use this information to decide whether you want them to help handle your claim.

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How to Find a Good Public Adjuster

Naturally, not all public adjusters are created equally. There are some that are far better than others. Much of this comes down to the level of experience that an adjuster has but there are other factors that are necessary to consider as well.

If you have experience major loss, such as smoke or fire damage to your home, then chances are high that several public adjusters have already solicited you. Rather than simply say yes to the first adjuster that you meet, it is essential that you screen each adjuster so you can find the absolute best one for you. A matter as sensitive as an insurance claim requires the highest level of communication possible.

Throughout the process of finding a public adjuster, it is important to keep one primary thing in mind. You are the client and you have the final say. Do not be pressured by high-pressure sales tactics and industry lingo. If you don’t like the feeling that someone gives you, you don’t have to go with them. Your intuition is just as important, if not more important, than the advice below.

  • Look at Multiple: Don’t just hire the first adjuster that you meet. It is wise to look at a couple of them before you make your decision. This allows you to compare each of them with the others.
  • Experience: Naturally, the amount of experience that an adjuster has is highly important. It will greatly influence the payout they will be able to get you. It will also influence how quick and painless the insurance claims process will be.
  • Groups: Any good claims adjuster will belong to a number of different professional groups and organizations. These include the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA), Windstorm Insurance Network (WIND), and the United Policyholders of America. These groups have strict ethical standards that they hold all of their members to. They also feature online directories of their members so you easily verify if your adjuster actually a member.
  • Certification: Every state in the United States requires that public adjusters be licensed. However, the specific certifications vary from state to state. Before hiring an adjuster, make sure that they are fully and legally certified in your state of residence.
  • Lawful: There are a lot of laws pertaining to residential loss of homeowners. In most states, no one should contact you for at least 48 hours (or two days) after you have suffered such a sizable loss. This means that you should not trust an adjuster that attempts to contact you before this time. It is important to note, however, that this does not pertain to you. You can seek the help of a public adjuster at any point if you feel immediate assistance is necessary.
  • Read Your Claim: A reputable and reliable adjuster will always look over your insurance policy and review your loss before making any promises. Those that make promises before looking at these things are not to be trusted.
  • Ask for References: Using references is one of the best ways to find a great insurance adjuster. Naturally, getting a reference from someone you know personally is the best bet. However, many of us don’t know anyone who has used a public adjuster before. In this case, ask the adjuster for references. A reputable one should be more than willing to give you references. It is all the better if they can provide ones that dealt with similar claims.
  • Price: Beware of adjusters that offer to work for you for remarkably low fees. Although it can seem like a great deal, these adjusters are most often not of the highest quality. Indeed, they are often scammers trying to illegally make a quick buck. Compare prices of several adjusters in your community so you know what average prices are. It is usually better to go with a professional that charges in this range of prices.