Frequently Asked Questions About Public Adjusters & Insurance Claims

Confused about insurance claims or public adjusters? Our readers send us plenty of questions about our industry! Keep reading to discover the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions.

What is a Public Adjuster?

A public adjuster is a state-licensed insurance professional specializing in managing every aspect of an insurance claim on behalf of the policyholder. Unlike your insurance company’s adjuster, who works for the insurance company, a public adjuster represents you and your interests. Public adjusters are individually-licensed and work as independent contractors. 46 states in America have specific licensing requirements for public adjusters. In order to call yourself a licensed public adjuster in most states, you need to meet strict requirements. Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, South Dakota, and Wisconsin do not have regulatory schemes for public adjusters.

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What Do Public Adjusters Do?

Generally speaking, a public adjuster manages every aspect of your claim from beginning to end. They investigate, inspect, appraise, and adjust the insurance claim. Unlike your insurance company’s adjuster, however, a public adjuster works for you. The goal is to maximize the amount of compensation you receive from your insurance company. A public adjuster will ensure your claim is handled efficiently and achieves a fair outcome. The public adjuster will also negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.

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What is a Loss Adjuster, Private Adjuster, or Private Claims Adjuster?

A loss adjuster, private adjuster, private claims adjuster, public loss adjuster, private loss adjuster, and public insurance adjuster are all different terms for a public adjuster. These professionals work on behalf of you, the policyholder and represent your best interests.

What is an Independent Adjuster?

An independent adjuster works for the insurance company. Typically, the insurance company will hire an independent adjuster on a contractual basis – say, to handle a complex claim. They’re not salaried employees of the insurance company. Don’t be fooled by the name: independent adjusters aren’t truly independent. Technically, they represent both the policyholder and the insurance company. However, these adjusters are paid by the insurance company, and their goal is to represent the insurance company’s bottom line. Independent adjusters may also receive a percentage of the claim – similar to a public adjuster.

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How Much Do Public Adjusters Charge?

Most public adjusters work on a contingency basis. Typically, public adjusters charge a fee of 5% to 15% of the final settlement offer. More experienced adjusters will command higher fees. Some public adjusters charge over 20%. Some states restrict public adjuster fees. Public adjusters in Florida, for example, are forbidden from charging more than 20% in a situation that has not been declared a public disaster and no more than 10% in a situation that has been declared a disaster.

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How Does a Public Adjuster Get Paid?

Public adjusters have different fee structures. Some public adjusters charge a flat rate to handle your claim. Others charge an hourly rate. Most public adjusters work on a contingency basis, which means they don’t get paid until you accept your insurance company’s final offer, at which point they collect a pre-arranged percentage of the settlement amount. Your public adjuster will clearly explain their fee structure upfront.

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Do I Need a Public Adjuster?

If you’ve experienced a disaster at your property, then you may be considering hiring a public adjuster. Public adjusters are licensed, experienced insurance professionals. They can help you avoid making mistakes on your insurance claim. They keep your insurance company honest. They can raise your final insurance settlement by up to 70% – all in exchange for a fee of 5% to 15%. It’s up to you to decide if you need a public adjuster. In larger claims situations, however, hiring a public adjuster can quickly pay for itself.

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When Should I Hire a Public Insurance Adjuster?

As a general rule, you should consider hiring a public adjuster if you have an insurance dispute totaling over $10,000. If you believe your home has sustained $15,000 worth of damage after a hailstorm, for example, and your insurance company offers you a check for $5,000, then you may wish to hire a public adjuster. You should also consider hiring a public adjuster if you want to expedite the claims process, maximize your compensation, or ensure fair treatment from your insurance company. Some people hire a public adjuster simply to take a load off their back during a stressful time. During the days or weeks following a disaster, dealing with an insurance claim may be the last thing you want to do.

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What is a Bad Faith Claim?

“Bad faith” is a legal term describing an insurance company committing dishonest practices against a client. Under United States law, insurance companies have an obligation to practice in good faith to their clients. The so-called “implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing” is a crucial part of every insurance contract signed in the United States. When an insurance company violates this covenant, they’re said to be acting in bad faith.

See our guide to bad faith claims

Can I Sue My Insurance Company for Bad Faith?

Yes, you can sue your company for bad faith. If you believe your insurance company is acting in bad faith, then you may wish to sue your insurance company. Clients across the United States have successfully sued insurance companies for bad faith. When suing for bad faith, you may be able to recover an amount larger than the face value of your policy – especially if your insurance company’s conduct was particularly egregious.

What Are Some Examples of Bad Faith?

An insurance company might be practicing in bad faith if they commit any of the following actions:
• Deny your claim without reason
• Make a ridiculously low offer in response to your claim
• Fail to conduct a prompt and complete investigation of your claim
• Offer less money than your claim is worth
• Refuse to pay a valid claim
• Make threatening statements
• “Drag their feet” while processing your claim, or take too long to process your claim
• “Bad faith” is defined as “intentional deception or dishonesty” or “an intentional failure to meet an obligation.” There are plenty of different ways an insurance company can operate in bad faith. These are just a few examples.

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