Your basement floods. Your kitchen catches fire. A tree falls on your roof. Good thing you have homeowners insurance. Now that you’re filing a substantial claim, however, you’re worried that you won’t get the payout you need. How will the insurance company even know how much the claim is worth? You’re thinking about hiring a public insurance adjuster. Before you make a decision, it’s helpful to understand the process.
How Insurers Respond to Claims
When you file a claim, the insurer assigns an insurance adjuster, sometimes called a claims adjuster, to assess the loss. During this process, the adjuster will examine all relevant information, which may involve the following:
- Inspecting the damaged property
- Interviewing the claimants and anyone else involved
- Reading police reports
The adjuster will determine whether the claim is covered under the insurance policy.
If the claim is covered, the adjuster will work to settle the claim. In addition to assessing the value of loss and authorizing the payout, the adjuster may provide other services, including helping you find temporary shelter and arranging for repairs.
The insurance adjuster’s job is to make the claimant “whole” again. In other words, the adjuster wants to resolve the claim as quickly and satisfactorily as possible. Unfortunately, the claims process is stressful for the claimant, who has just inexperienced a significant loss, and it can take longer than the claimant might wish. To help the process go as fast as possible, communication is essential. Answer the adjuster’s questions honestly and completely, and don’t be shy about asking your own questions.
Company Adjusters versus Public Adjusters
There are many benefits to working with the adjuster assigned by the insurance company:
- This adjuster knows the insurance policy and coverage issues well.
- This adjuster has the authority needed to settle claims with the insurer, up to the adjuster’s authority limit.
- This adjuster’s services are provided to you free of charge.
There’s often no reason to hire a public adjuster. However, if you’re having difficulty with the assigned adjuster, or if you feel that the claims determination is unfair, you can take steps to protect your interests. These steps may include the following:
- Talking to the adjuster. Ask for clarification and express your concerns. Try to negotiate.
- Going to the insurer. If the adjuster is not communicating or following through, or if there are other issues, report the problems you’re having.
- Hiring a public adjuster. At the very least, this will give you a second opinion.
If you hire a public adjuster, you will probably be charged a percentage of the payout. For example, if the public adjuster you hire charges a 10 percent fee and you receive a payout of $20,000, you will have to pay the public adjuster $2,000.
Although many public adjusters are experienced professionals, some are not as skilled. Before hiring a public adjuster, do some research.
- Ask for references and read reviews.
- Ask about their experience handling similar claims.
- Verify licensing.
If your claim happens to be insured by FICOH, we are here to answer your questions and to get you back to “normal” as quick as possible. Learn more here.