Should I Hire A Public Adjuster?
Public Adjuster Definition:
A Public Adjuster is a licensed professional who advocates for the policyholder during the property claim investigation and settlement process.
Public Adjusters help insureds get faster, more accurate claim settlements with less stress and hassle.
The time saved combined with the often increased claim settlements makes hiring a Public Adjuster worth considering on every claim that a policyholder may have.
We’ve written this article to help the policyholder make an informed decision should the time arise.
Every year, approximately 1 out of 15 insured homes has a claim.
In the insurance world, we call the damages that preceed the claim “losses.”
Losses can take a variety of shapes and sizes, from small damages, to catastrophic total losses.
When a policyholder files a claim, their insurer will send their adjuster to their property to inspect the damages.
The assigned adjuster is either a staff adjuster or an independent adjuster.
Staff adjusters are generally employees of the carrier.
Independent adjusters are employees of independent adjustment firms.
Independent adjustments firms function similar to temporary employment agencies.
They provide additional claims handling capacity for a carrier on an as-needed basis.
Most carriers use a combination of staff adjusters and independent adjusters to handle their claims.
Whether the policyholder has an independent adjuster or a staff adjuster assigned to their claim, both adjusters work for the insurer – and that is where their loyalty resides.
Insurance Adjusters systematically undervalue policyholder’s claims.
Some of the reasons are outside of the Insurance Adjuster’s control.
Insurance adjusters typically have large workloads and cannot afford to spend a lot of time on each claim.
Carrier management pressures adjusters to close claims quickly to keep their “production” up.
As part of their job, Insurance Adjusters must juggle many field and office responsibilities.
The must review the claim, schedule an inspection, drive to the inspection, inspect the damages, handle phone calls, respond to emails, prepare documents, and many other activities.
Juggling so many micro-responsibilites reduces the Insurance Adjuster’s focus, attention to detail, and responsivness to policyholder questions and concerns.
Frankly, many Insurance Adjusters underestimate claims to reduce their queue of claims.
It is too time consuming for the Adjuster to go through every detail of the policyholder’s damages to properly compensate them (indemnification).
Carriers facilitate lower claim settlements by implementing arbitrary “estimating guidelines” that their Insurance Adjusters must follow.
These guidelines are often “bare-bones,” which has the effect of undervaluing insured’s claims by systematically creating omissions in Insurance Adjuster estimates.
These omissions occur in the vast majority of property claims, which benefit the adjuster and the carrier, at the expense of the insured.
Of course, in most claim investigations, the policyholder is unaware of these issues.
As a result, the policyholder is at a severe disadvantage when they have a property claim.
The chances that they receive an accurate claim settlement is very low.
The policyholder can “go at it alone.”
Many Policyholders take this route.
They read their policy, learn insurance jargon, learn the intricacies of claims adjusting, research construction, and read up on other information.
Unfortunately, despite all their efforts, they still come out behind.
Let the contractor negotiate the claim.
As an alternative, the policyholder could attempt to have their contractor negotiate the claim with the adjuster.
Contractors should not negotiate claims.
But the reality is that they often will – and many adjusters are fine with it.
Your contractor is probably more familiar with the claims process, but they are not policy experts.
Due to their construction knowledge, they may be able to help you get more for property “repairs,” but that is all.
Furthermore, the contractor may look out for their own interests before the policyholder’s since they’re likely doing the job.
Claims are also multi-dimensional.
A contractor will not be able to manage other aspects of the claim if the policyholder has “contents” or “additional living expenses” to address.
Those responsibilities are outside of the purview of a contractor.
Hire a Public Adjuster.
A Public Adjuster can manage the entire claim for a policyholder from start to finish.
They can submit the claim, manage calls and emails with an adjuster, increase claim settlment amounts, educate the insured, help the insured avoid costly mis-steps, and help an insured find a reputable contractor to perform the repairs.
A Public Adjuster can be a tremendous resource for an insured during the claims process, but selecting the right one can be a challenge as well.