What Is a Public Adjuster?
A public adjuster is someone who acts on behalf on the claimant in the insurance deals and negotiations. They are normally hired when homeowners don’t have either the emotional capacity or the time to sort out their insurance claims after a disaster. They are also hired in an instance where the policy holder feels like the insurance company is not paying out what was promised in their contract, public adjusters are professionals when it comes to insurance law and they more adept at getting the correct amount of money that you are owed, from the insurance company. It is important to remember that a public adjuster has no relationship to or affiliates with the insurance company, they have your best interests at heart and therefore you will be the one who pays for them.
When Do I Need a Public Adjuster?
There is never a right or wrong time to hire a public adjuster, and everyone has their different approaches and opinions about their insurance claims. But it is safe to say that if you are dealing with claims that exceed $10,000 dollars, then your safest bet is to hire one. Public adjusters tend to deal with the larger cases as they are paid a percent of the final pay out. If your claim is unremarkable, below $10,000 dollars and you are fairly competent at dealing with your own insurance, then you don’t need to hire anyone.
However, if you have a large claim settlement due and you feel like you have no clue what is going on with your insurance contract, then it is best to hire a public adjuster to go through your contract and correctly ascertain what it is you are liable to be paid.
Another good time to hire a public adjuster is if you believe that the insurance company hasn’t been completely honest with you, and have failed to pay you what they should have.
What Can I Expect From my Public Adjuster?
Once you have decided that you have the right type of claim to hire a public adjuster, it is important to know exactly what they will do for you, and you should set yourself real expectations. They will deal with your claim from start to finish and it is essential for you to establish what you are looking for from your public adjuster.
- Personally Inspecting Your Claim: It is important that during the interview process you ensure the person you are interviewing will be dealing with your claim and they aren’t simply passing it on. The first thing a public adjuster will do is to inspect your claim. They will go over your policy extensively and look for any potential problems and loopholes that may have been put into the contract. It is essential that they understand every single point in your claim to be able to get you the most out of it as possible. Going through the claim comprehensively to understand what your exact cover is, and what the possible limitations might be.
- Assessing Property Damage: It is during this stage that the public adjuster will view your damaged property. They are responsible for talking to all the necessary professionals to ascertain the final amount of damage done. You will need to be able to tell them about personal effects that you have lost in the incident that may be of value or covered in your policy.
- Documentation and Necessitation: The public adjuster will now need to bring your damaged property and the points in your policy together. They need to record and document everything they feel falls under the claim, and strengthen the areas that may be used against you. The evidence that they gather needs to be solid and irrefutable.
- Presentation and Negotiation: At this stage of the claims process, they will supply their information to the insurance company. Negotiations will begin if you or your public adjuster feels that the proposed pay out is not high enough. Remember that your public adjuster will be representing you at these meetings and will be doing the negotiations for a higher pay out from the insurance company. If additional costs or damages are noticed at this stage of the negotiation, it is possible to refile the claim to cover these charges.
- Getting You the Largest Amount Possible: It is incredibly important to remember that your public adjuster is not a magician. They are only there to get you the highest amount of money that you can possibly and legally get from your existing claims policy. If you have received this at the end of the negotiations, there is no way that the public adjuster can get you more. Legally and ethically their hands are tied, and you are more likely to lose money than gain any of you were to take negotiations any further.
- Fees: Remember to talk to your public adjuster about fees before signing any contracts. State regulations on fees differ and it is up to you to know what the limit is in your state. You should expect anything from between 5 and 20% of your final pay out to be spent on your public adjuster. It is important to clarify how much you will be paying them up front before you start working with them. It is also in your best interest to find out whether they will be using their own name or company name on pay out checks, and if you are not happy with the arrangement you will need to change it before entering into any agreement.
- Time Frame: Your public adjuster will not have much control over the time the claim process takes, as depending on the policy itself there may be added costs, and unforeseen complications that both parties have to resolve before the final payout can be done. Also as a general rule, the bigger the case, the longer it will take to settle. So if you are dealing with an insurance claim that is worth a lot of money, expect it to take a fair length of time for the public adjuster to get you the payout.
You will be working closely with your public adjuster and it is important that you respect what they are capable of doing. These are just a few things to keep in mind if you are thinking of hiring a public adjuster. Remember that they are only capable of doing so much, and you would do well to keep your expectations at a realistic level to avoid disappointment. Most claimant-adjuster fallouts happen because the claimant is unsure of what a public adjuster’s job entails exactly. Therefore do your homework before hiring anyone, and make sure you discuss terms and conditions with the person you hire before entering any contractual agreement.