Dealing with a home insurance adjuster is a normal part of making an insurance claim after a loss. If you’ve never dealt with a claims adjuster, however, then the process can be intimidating. Is the adjuster waiting for you to make a mistake? How can you maximize the payout from your insurance company? What items can you expect to be covered?
Today, we’re answering all of these questions and explaining how to deal with a home insurance adjuster from the insurance company.
Once you decide if you should call to file an insurance claim, it is important to understand the next steps of the process to properly handle dealing with the company insurance claims adjuster and negotiating your insurance claim.
What is a Home Insurance Adjuster?
Your insurance company employs adjusters. An adjuster’s goal is to evaluate your claim and decide how much money the insurance company is required to pay out.
It’s important to note that the home insurance adjuster is a paid employee or independent contractor of your insurance company. Like any good employee, the adjuster’s goal is to protect the insurance company’s bottom line. From a financial standpoint, insurance companies want to pay the the least amount of money they’re legally obligated to pay.
An insurance company may call their adjuster an analyst, a representative, or some other title. Whatever they call their adjuster, however, their main goal is typically the same: to evaluate your claim and close it as quickly as possible, for as little money as possible. This often results in homeowners disagreeing with the insurance adjuster and suspecting the estimate is too low.
How to Negotiate with your Home Insurance Company’s Adjuster
You shouldn’t be intimidated when negotiating with your home insurance company’s adjuster. Many insurance companies hand out a low initial offer because they expect the insured policyholder to negotiate or hire a public adjuster. They might give you a low initial offer assuming you’re going to reject it.
Delivering a low initial offer is a win-win situation for an insurance company. If you reject it, then they may have another, more reasonable offer lined up. If you accept it, then the insurance company avoids a drawn-out negotiation process, while saving money.
There are two important things to remember when negotiating with your insurance company’s home insurance adjuster:
Your Insurance Company is Legally Obliged to Act in Good Faith
When you buy a home insurance policy from your insurance company, you’re entering into a mutual contract. That contract states that your insurance company must cover certain types of damages. If an insurance company is refusing to cover certain damages that should be covered, intentionally stalling, or failing to thoroughly investigate your claim, then the company may be acting in bad faith. Insurance companies that act in bad faith are liable for lawsuits. Lawsuits can be very expensive for insurance companies, and they’ll typically do whatever they can do to avoid a lawsuit.
You Have the Upper Hand
A home insurance adjuster usually deals with several insurance claims on a weekly basis. However, you have the upper hand because you only have one claim to handle: your own claim. You can be the expert of your own claim. Take advantage of that expert knowledge while negotiating with your home insurance adjuster.
What Happens When Negotiations Fail?
In a perfect world, your home insurance adjuster would offer a fair and reasonable settlement based on the damage to your home, and you would accept that offer and move forward with restoration, recovery and repairs.
Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world, and home insurance negotiations can quickly get messy. It is quite common that people disagree and feel the home insurance adjuster’s estimate is too low. In this case you need to decide what to do when you disagree with the insurance adjuster.
You don’t have to accept the first offer your insurance company makes. However, if the insurance company continues to decline your claim or refuses to cover certain damages, then it may be time to decide between hiring a public adjuster or an attorney.
If you’re feeling lost, taken advantage of, or need help figuring out the next best steps for your insurance claim, let us know and we will be happy to help.
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Tips for Dealing with a Home Insurance Adjuster
Here are other tips to remember when dealing with a home insurance adjuster:
- Avoid giving the adjuster a recorded statement
- Avoid speaking to the adjuster unless necessary, and consider having a friend or, better yet, your lawyer or public adjuster assist when speaking with the adjuster
- Avoid signing any documents from the insurance adjuster until you have reviewed and fully understand everything it contains
- Don’t settle your insurance claim too quickly
- Consider hiring a public adjuster or an attorney if negotiations are stalled or if you believe your insurance company is acting in bad faith
- Remember that what you say can hurt you; insurance adjusters have a long history of negotiating claims with clients, and a single recorded statement can impact your final insurance payout (this is more common for personal injury claims and car accident cases, but it can also be a problem in homeowners insurance cases)
- Don’t go overboard with your negotiation tactics; when the adjuster is from your own insurance company, then you’re required to cooperate with that adjuster
- If the payout offer from your insurance company seems unreasonably low, then ask for further justification on the low amount; ask them to itemize the damages and provide the facts behind their numbers
- Once a settlement is finally reached, make sure you get that settlement in writing; an adjuster might promise one thing during negotiations, then flip back to a previous offer for the final settlement
Overall, remember that the insurance company adjuster’s goal isn’t to give away money to everyone asking for it. Instead, their goal is most likely to be: settle your claim as quickly as possible, for the lowest amount possible. The insurance company’s adjuster is not on your side.
Consider Hiring a Public Adjuster
Many policyholders hire a public insurance adjuster to manage the claims process. A public adjuster is an insurance professional that works on your behalf – similar to how the insurance company’s adjuster works on the insurer’s behalf.
A good public adjuster will work diligently to manage your insurance claim from beginning to end, working hard to ensure you secure the maximum compensation possible under your insurance policy contract.
Public adjusters can’t be expected to work for free. Typically, adjusters charge a pre-arranged fee of 5% to 15% of the final settlement amount, depending on the size of the claim and the experience of the adjuster. However, homeowners who hire public insurance adjusters have been known to get settlements of 70% or more above the one initially offered by the insurance company – therefore many agree it is a smart and valuable investment.
If you’re overwhelmed dealing with your insurance company’s adjuster, then consider hiring a public adjuster. It can help to relieve an immense amount of time, stress and confusion while helping to ensure you get maximum compensation from your home insurance claim.