By Keith Minor.
If you need to file an insurance claim because you have recently experienced damage to your home or property, consider the benefits of hiring a public adjuster instead of using the one provided by your insurance company for free. Even the best homeowners’ insurance companies will never voluntarily pay more than the amount claimed. Therefore, policyholders need to be careful to claim the correct amount under their policy that fully reflects all their damages. This is where a public adjuster can help.
A public adjuster is an independent insurance professional retained by a policyholder to help settle an insurance claim on his or her behalf. The adjuster is a property loss expert who, on top of adjusting the insurance claim, can also assist the policyholder in preparing and filing claims tailored to that policyholder’s specific contract and situation.
After assessing the damage, the public adjuster will assemble the claim support data, review the insured’s coverage and determine the current replacement costs in order to protect the client’s interest, instead of the insurance company’s interest. This will mean the claim submitted is the full equitable amount that the insured is entitled to under the insurance policy. Taken altogether, a public adjuster can help the policyholder to reach a prompt, equitable settlement that best reflects the true amount to which the insured is entitled.
In contrast, the insurance company’s claim adjusters are themselves employees of the insurer. Their job is to deny or approve the policyholder’s claim, but there are inherent biases and incentives that may be at odds with the policyholder’s interests. Public adjusters are free from these corporate biases since their fee is paid from a percentage of the insurance settlement obtained. Such a structure naturally places the policyholder’s interest in harmony with the public adjuster’s interest. The more you receive in a claim the higher their fee.
Furthermore, public adjusters are guided by a strict code of ethics and rules of professional conduct while also being subject to many state and local regulations meant to protect the interests of their clients. Most states require a public adjuster to pass an exam, maintain a bond, pass a criminal background check, and continue taking professional education courses.
Even if a policyholder is confident in the dollar value of the property loss, it is good practice to get a second opinion, especially since most public adjusters offer to visit the property free of charge for a consultation.
Note: The foregoing post contains general observations applicable to many insurance policies; this is not legal advice tailored to any particular legal issue. This should not be construed as legal advice, nor does the reading of this column create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and the Firm, or any attorney(s) at the Firm. If you need legal advice in analyzing your insurance coverage, presenting a claim, or disputing the denial of coverage, contact a licensed attorney as soon as possible. The Russell Firm will provide a free consultation.
 D.C., Virginia, Florida, Texas and TN all have statutes that regulate public adjusters