Imagine that your house has just been badly damaged by an earthquake, fire, hurricane, or other disaster. Not only can you not find your policy, but you can’t remember the last time you reviewed your coverage. Not that it matters, since most people don’t understand the terms of their policies because they are written in legalese. The good news is that with home or property damage, consumers can turn to public claims adjusters to interpret their policies and obtain a fair settlement from their insurance company.
You don’t need to hire an adjuster for minor damage, such as negligible smoke damage from a stovetop fire. However, you should hire an adjuster if your lifestyle is significantly disrupted. That is, bring in a public adjuster when you can’t handle finding new living arrangements, filing a large claim, and arranging for a survey of extensive damage to your property.
Public claims adjusters know the insurance process inside and out, so they can minimize the hassle that comes with collecting documents and evidence, and then negotiating with the insurance company. The adjuster will file all your pertinent paperwork with the insurance company, arrange for the inspections of your damaged property if needed, and haggle with the insurance company if it refuses to pay your full claim.
If you do decide to have a public claims adjuster help you out with your claim, expect to pay them between 5 and 50 percent of your claim settlement. As the settlement amount increases, the adjuster’s cut generally goes down. Adjusters’ fees also depend on the nature of the claim and your marketplace.
What you should look for when hiring an adjuster:
-Experience is a must
-Check the adjuster’s certifications
-Do a background check
-Ask for a referral from a friend
-Confirm the adjuster is licensed in your state (if applicable)
How do you know if you need an adjuster? Depending on who you talk to, you may or may not need a public adjuster. One piece of advice is to seek a public adjuster’s service as soon as possible. Often it’s nearly impossible for consumers to know what to expect from an insurer in a homeowner’s claim situation, even after they read their policies. In addition, it’s difficult for an adjuster to come in after a claim is already being processed. On the other hand, insurers contend that their claims staffs are professionals who make the claims process easy for their policyholders, and they assert that it’s questionable whether a policyholder comes out ahead when the adjuster’s fee is subtracted.