According to Wikipedia, a public adjuster is a professional claims adjuster who advocates for the policyholder (the client) in appraising and negotiating the policyholder’s insurance claim. This definition is somewhat brief and does not speak to the “What, Why, When, and Where” questions that many policyholders have about public adjusters.
What is a Public Adjuster?
A public adjuster is a state-licensed, well-trained, educated and experienced professional who acts as an advocate for an insured person after a loss has occurred. The qualified public adjuster is especially knowledgeable about the claims process, the insurance contract, the conditions within, and can professionally guide the claimant (policyholder) through the claims process so that the claimant can be made completely whole again. The public adjuster cannot, however, obtain more than what the claimant is entitled under the insurance contract.
Why Hire a Public Adjuster?
Since insurance contracts are typically written by insurance attorneys and contain primarily legalese terms and language, the policyholder can be at a significant disadvantage when it comes to understanding the coverages, limitations, and exclusions contained in the contract.
The claims process can be just as confusing as the insurance contract that governs how the claim will be handled. In many cases, an insurance company can require volumes of data to support the claim, which can be time-consuming and stressful for the claimant. Unfortunately, most “company” adjusters (working for the insurer) will put the needs of the insurance company over the needs of the policyholder. On the other hand, a public adjuster works solely for their client (the claimant) and will always put the client’s interests first.
When should I Hire a Public Adjuster?
No insurance claim is considered “cut and dry” so the best path to a fair and equitable settlement with your insurance carrier, is to hire a Public Adjuster from the start. Although your insurance agent/broker will be knowledgeable about coverages, limits, and exclusions in your policy, their expertise is in risk management and providing the policies necessary to mitigate risks for their clients. Once your claim is properly reported to your insurance carrier, they are typically out of the picture, and an insurance company adjuster is assigned to your claim. Since the insurance professional, you do business with represents your interests in addition to the interests of the insurance company, they are not in the best position to advocate for you as a policyholder. Furthermore, most insurance carriers will not allow the agent/broker to inject themselves into the claims adjusting process.
Where can I Find a Public Adjuster?
Typically, all public adjusters can be found on the internet. Your search should include considering public adjusters in your area with the most positive reviews. Unfortunately, many reviews on the internet are paid for by the company being reviewed, so we advise you to be aware of this and to search for valid and honest reviews. With a little additional time and research, you should be able to locate a professional who has the knowledge and experience to advocate on your behalf. They can help you receive the insurance benefits for which you are entitled, according to the terms of your insurance contract.
Fortunately for consumers, most public adjusters charge on a contingency basis. They work similarly to personal injury attorneys because they charge a percentage of the amount awarded for the claim and do not get paid until you do. Also, note that even if a claim has been previously closed, a public adjuster can intervene and reopen the claim if a policyholder has reason to believe they may have been short-changed by the insurer.