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What Is a Public Insurance Adjuster?

Insurance policies are something you're usually glad you have. If an unfortunate event occurs, you'll want the insurance company to pay a fair settlement to cover property damage. For this reason, many people seek out an independent adjuster.

Insurance claims adjusters are insurance professionals policyholders hire to help them with insurance claims. Read on to learn about public insurance adjusters and how they can help you deal with the insurance claim process.

What Does a Public Insurance Adjuster Do?

Insurance adjusters assess the damage to your property and help determine what the insurance company should pay to cover that damage. There are three types of insurance adjusters:

  • Company or Staff Insurance Adjusters: The insurance company's adjuster. They work in-house on behalf of the insurance company.
  • Independent Insurance Adjusters: They are hired and paid by the insurance company to consult on a particular property insurance claim.
  • Public Insurance Adjusters: They are hired by policyholders to assess damages and help with the insurance claim. A public claims adjuster works independently from the homeowner's insurance company. They work on behalf of the policyholder.

Each type of insurance adjuster inspects the property. They provide a detailed appraisal of the property loss. The adjuster analyzes the insurance coverage and whether coverage applies in the situation. If so, the adjuster decides how much it would cost to repair or replace the affected parts of the property. They determine the claim payout or claim settlement.

Why Hire a Public Insurance Adjuster?

If the insurance company already provides an adjuster to evaluate the damage, why hire your own?

Public adjusters work for the policyholder. The policyholder pays the public adjuster's fees. Their job is to ensure your claim payout accurately reflects the cost of repairs or replacements.

The insurance claim process can be complicated, laborious, and time-consuming. A good public adjuster can use their expertise to help you with the following:

  • Understanding your coverage
  • Managing a complex claim
  • Keeping your claim on track
  • Assessing the damage
  • Filing your claim
  • Negotiating with your insurance company and contractors

The insurance claim process can be complicated, laborious, and time-consuming. An experienced public adjuster can be invaluable in helping you with your claim.

How and When To Hire a Public Insurance Adjuster

There is no particular rule regarding when you should hire a public insurance adjuster. Insurance companies hire independent adjusters to evaluate claims. They work on behalf of the insurer, and the insurer pays the fee. A public adjuster works for you.

Public insurance adjusters can be especially useful in complicated cases involving a large claim. Situations may include property damage to multiple areas of your property or the potential claim value is exceptionally high. For example, you may have a large claim under your home insurance policy following a natural disaster.

Although there are many honest insurance agents and adjusters, their primary obligation is to their employer. They represent the insurance company. With so much at stake, many people would prefer an experienced professional looking out for their interests and walking them through the process.

How To Find a Public Insurance Adjuster

Getting a personal recommendation from a trusted friend or acquaintance is a great way to find a public insurance adjuster. You may also search for a licensed public adjuster by searching the directory of the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters.

In either case, it's a good idea to ask a potential adjuster for a few references. Inquire about their years of experience and whether they've negotiated with your insurance company in the past.

When To Hire a Public Adjuster

Regarding timing, some recommend contacting a public insurance adjuster when the damage occurs. That way, you'll have help and representation from the start. A public insurance adjuster ensures you correctly file your claim the first time. Many adjusters provide a free initial visit to the damaged property.

If you didn't hire a public adjuster at the outset and are having a dispute with your insurance company, they still may be able to help. In those cases, an adjuster can help reopen a claim. Or they can file a supplemental claim to ensure you receive a settlement amount according to the terms of your policy.

Laws Regulating Public Insurance Adjusters

The insurance industry is highly regulated. Each state has insurance laws. Laws and regulations govern the conduct of public insurance adjusters as well.

Under state law in some jurisdictions, adjusters can handle issues like health insurance claims. However, most insurance adjusters deal only with real or personal property damage. Common statutes and regulations concerning insurance adjusters include:

  • Licensing: Most states require public insurance adjusters to be licensed. This often involves an application, licensing exam, fingerprinting, and a background check. States like New York and California will refuse to license felons and those who have committed insurance-related misdemeanors.
  • Fees: The fee that adjusters charge is usually a percentage of the final settlement amount paid by the insurance company to the policyholder. Some states cap these and other types of fees. State regulations may require all rates, fees, and commissions to be disclosed upfront. For example, Florida caps fees at 20% (10% for declared emergencies).
  • Professional Conduct: States also regulate how public adjusters conduct their business. For example, some regulations state that an adjuster may not contact an insured person between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. Others prohibit the adjuster from imposing late fees or collection costs in violation of the law or receiving compensation from those involved in the repair work.

You can contact your state's department of insurance if you have concerns about an insurance adjuster. You may wish to file a complaint. An individual engaging in misconduct may have their license revoked or suspended, face civil fines, or receive a charge for a criminal violation.

Know Your Rights Under Your State's Insurance Laws

If you're dealing with property damage and an insurance claim, you probably don't have time to become an expert in insurance law. Get help. A legal professional can assist whether you're dealing with an uncooperative insurance company or a public insurance adjuster who may not have your interest in mind. They can explain your legal options and advise you of your rights.

Contact a local insurance attorney to help protect your interests and guide you through the applicable aspects of insurance law.

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