We at ClaimsMate.com want to provide as much information as possible to allow you to make the decision as to whether or not you will need a public/private adjuster. In doing so, please understand that we have decades of experience in this field and the methods we use to choose the correct adjuster for your specialized needs have been developed based on our own personal experiences of trial and error.
*** ADDITIONAL CAUTION ***
By making a mistake when hiring the wrong adjuster you may damage your reputation with your insurance adjuster, thereby harming your negotiation process. Just as hiring a bad Realtor can harm your home buying process or hiring the wrong attorney can cause severe damage on a court case. Public/Private Adusting is a highly specialized field.
Finding and Hiring a Public Claims Adjuster
To correctly negotiate and settle your insurance claims can be an extremely difficult, drawn out process if you don’t know all the legal terms being spouted at you, or are unsure if the minute details found in your claim. The procedure is often long and labor intensive for the policyholder, and many people simply do not have the time to do it on their own, especially while dealing with the aftermath of a disaster.
If you are having problems with your claim; be it time management, inexperience, the insurance company or just plain confusion, then it is possible for you to hire professional help. This is where a public claims adjuster comes in.
A public claims adjuster is a professional that is hired by a policyholder to deal with their insurance claims and negotiations in the event of a disaster. They have no association or relationship with the insurance company and are hired to solely benefit the insured as much as possible. Hiring a public claims adjuster will make the process of getting your insurance claim sorted out much easier on you. It will save you time, stress and ultimately you will probably get paid out more. People often struggle with the listing, assessing, documenting and proving the damages done to their property, especially after having just dealt with a disaster.
If you have decided to hire a public claims adjuster then it is essential that you find someone who is experienced in the niche that claim falls under, as well as a person who has good references and who you feel comfortable with on an individual level.
Where Can I Find a Public Claims Adjuster?
If you have suffered a sizeable loss on your property such as fire or flood damage, then it is likely that you have already been approached and spoken to by one or more public claims adjusters. In some states there may be rules for approaching the policyholder, for example the Florida Public Adjuster 48 Hour Rule, states that public adjusters aren’t allowed to get in contact with the insured for 48 hours after the disaster occurred. This allows policyholders to deal with the loss and damage that they have suffered, as well as giving them time to consider their options and perhaps get hold of their preferred public claims adjuster.
The larger your claim, the more public claim adjusters will approach you, as they prefer to deal with bigger cases. This is because a public adjusters fees are paid as a percentage of the total fee that the insurance company pays out to the policyholder, therefore the bigger the fee; the more they get paid.
If numerous professionals have approached you, you should not settle for the first person that you meet, and you must go through several interview processes to make sure you are hiring the right person. The last thing you need is more problems caused by a bad public claims adjuster on top of the damage caused by the disaster, and stress in dealing with the insurance claims.
If no public claims adjusters have made advances towards you, or if you would simply prefer to find your own, then there are a couple of companies that you can use.
- uphelp.org/findhelp: Up or United Policyholders is a non-profit company that helps and serves the insured by offering their advice and expertise to policyholders. They offer everything from disaster management and recovery, to helping fight for public related insurance laws. They will help you find a professional, licensed public adjuster in any state.
- naic.org: The National Association of Insurance Commissioners is the organization that sets the standards and offers support for regulations in the industry. All 50 of the chief insurance regulators govern this company, and they offer reviews and information on all things insurance countrywide. You can find rules and regulations for practicing public adjusters, and where you can contact them.
Tips for Hiring a High Quality Public Adjuster, and the Questions You Should Ask
As with any other profession in the world, not all public adjusters are going to be equal and some will be better at their jobs than others. The quality of your public adjuster can come down to any amount of small details, and it is important to ascertain his/her standard before you enter into an agreement with them.
Below are some tips for finding a great public adjuster, and the questions that you should put to them before signing a contract:
- Legality: You first need to ask a public adjuster if he is certified, and ask to see their Individual Public Adjusters License. The rules and regulations for public adjusters vary throughout the country, but they all have to be licensed in some way. Ensure that the person you choose is licensed to practice in your state.
- Interview more than one public adjuster: Definitely do not settle for the first person that has approached you. By interviewing multiple people you are able to get a better feel for what you are looking for, and you will be able to compare them all. Resist being put under pressure by the first few public adjusters, and try to avoid hiring someone too soon without having done your research.
- Are they part of an association? It is important that the person you are going to hire is part of a few public adjustment groups such a Napia and Naic. These groups have a really rigid rule system and extremely high standards, so that way you know when you are hiring a someone who is a member that they will adhere to the same standard of work that is expected of the group at all times.
- Experience: It is of obvious importance that the person you hire has experience not just in public adjustment itself, but preferably in the particular field that your claim falls under. This insures that they will be confident and knowledgeable when dealing with your claim. It will also affect how fast and relatively stress free the whole process will be, as someone with more experience already knows the ropes and will be able to get things done quickly. It also helps for them to have local experience, as it means that they may have dealt with your particular insurance company before and will therefore know how to deal with them in the most efficient way to get you your pay out.
- Personal handling of your claim: It is essential to make sure that you are interviewing the person who is dealing with your claim personally, and that they aren’t merely a sales representative who will be outsourcing or handing your claim onto someone else who you have never met.
- Fees: Before entering into a contract with your public adjuster, you should settle on what they are going to be charging. Most public claims adjusters work on a percentage fee of the final pay out, anywhere from 10 to 25%, and this can vary from state to state as some places put a cap on fees while others don’t. It is also important to establish a fee should the case need to be reopened; this is usually higher than the original fee. Also do not fall for someone offering ridiculously low fees, as this either means they are very poor quality or they could be part of a scam. Look at prices elsewhere and compare between the people you are interviewing, and this should give you a good gauge on what the average public adjuster is charging.
- References: As with any other job it is important that you ask for at least three references from the person you are interviewing. It is advantageous for the references to be local to your area, and that they have been satisfied with their work. Also try and make sure that they are all recent, from within the last 3 years or so.
If you have undergone a disaster recently that resulted in damage to your property, then it is advisable for you to hire a public claims adjuster. You hire these professionals and they therefore only work to benefit your side of the insurance claim; they have absolutely no affiliation to the insurance company.
Hiring a public adjuster is a completely individual choice, and perhaps you feel that you are able to handle the claim on your own. However, it is always beneficial to have a public adjuster, as they will make the process of dealing with the insurance company simpler and less time consuming for you.