A public adjuster is an independent insurance professional who has been trained and has a license (most of the time) to help policyholders settle a very large insurance claim or total loss of a home on their behalf. While they cannot negotiate for more than you’re entitled to under your insurance policy, they will work hard to negotiate the maximum amount of settlement you can get from your policy. Their service comes with a price tag, but it should be money well spent. 

You can get an adjuster for free from your insurance company, but since they work for the insurance firm, they don’t have your best interest at heart. Instead, the insurance company adjuster will do their best to get you to settle for the lowest possible amount. In this case, it’s true what they say: You get what you pay for. 

“The financial interests of insurance companies are best served by convincing policyholders to accept the lowest compensation possible,” Tim Cornett, president of the Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters, told Forbes. “The financial interests of public adjusters are directly tied to the interests of policyholders to receive full and fair compensation on insurance claims.”

So, partnering with a public adjuster is the best way to fully recover from your insurance company. Here’s how you can work with one. 

Working with a Public Adjuster During the Claims Process

There are several steps to an insurance claims process, and you’ll want to cooperate with your public adjuster every step of the way. 

Inspection and evaluation of damages

The first step to any insurance claims is to inspect and assess the damages to your home and personal belongings. You can make your public adjuster’s job faster by coordinating with them for their home visit and assisting them during the inspection, as necessary. You can start by pointing out the damages you’ve observed and they can begin their inspection and evaluation from there.

Review of your policy

Your public adjuster will also want to review your insurance policy, so provide them copies right away. They can help you understand your policy and explain how the claims process will proceed. They might even uncover other monetary benefits you are entitled to that you’re not aware of. 

In addition, your public adjuster will also guide you on what you should and should not do in order to comply with your policy’s terms and conditions. Make sure to follow these instructions. 

Cost estimation and damage documentation

It is also the job of a public adjuster to document the damages as well as to calculate how much it would cost and the amount of time it would take to fix those damages. Fixing the damages might entail repair or replacement.

If you’ve taken any pictures, videos or other evidence of the damage, you should furnish a copy to your public adjuster, if necessary.

Tracking your claim

Once they have the  estimated costs and the proper documentation, your public adjuster will start to negotiate with your insurance company on your behalf for a fair settlement. They will track your claim and coordinate with the insurance company until your payout is processed. They will provide updates all throughout and if they have any questions or instructions for you, ensure you answer or heed them without delay.

Find a Public Adjuster That Suits Your Needs

Homeowners who have just gone through a disaster or other major event leading to major house damage or loss don’t have the mindset, energy or the heart to go through a lengthy and complicated insurance claims process. 

“You’re at a disadvantage when you have major house damage or a total loss of your home,” James Guercio, owner of Rubin & Rosen Adjusters in New York, explains to Forbes. “You face a home insurance claims process that could easily stretch out for some time, require detailed paperwork and leave you mentally and physically exhausted.”

That is why the services of a public adjuster are valuable because they will take care of the entire claims process for you. That doesn’t mean you won’t be doing anything at all, but at least the bulk of the burden doesn’t rest on your shoulders anymore. 

“Hiring a public claims adjuster will put you on an even playing field with your insurance company,” Guercio adds.

You can find reputable public advisers from the following sources: 

  • National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA) or your regional public adjuster organization

Go to the NAPIA website and use the search tool to find public adjusters in your state. Public adjusters listed on NAPIA’s website meet the organization’s requirements, abide by a code of conduct and are licensed in states that mandate it.

Alternatively, you can go to the website of your state’s public adjuster association and look up their members. Like the NAPIA, public adjuster state associations also enforce strict membership requirements and a code of ethics. Examples include the California Association of Public Insurance Adjusters, the Massachusetts Association of Public Insurance Adjusters and the Adjuster Association of Chicago. 

  • Referrals or recommendations from people you trust

Ask family or friends for referrals or recommendations for a reliable public adjuster. When you have a few names, search for reviews online and find out how much they charge before deciding who to work with.

It’s also essential that you check their license. Not all states require public adjusters to have a license to operate, but it’s always safer to do business with one that has a license than one who doesn’t have a license. 

A public adjuster who possesses a license has met the state’s education and experience requirements. They could either have a personal license or they could operate under their company’s license.

You can verify their license with your state insurance department. Many allow you to do this online. 

If they’re working with a company, verify if the firm is reputable. You can check the company’s reviews online. Sites like the Better Business Bureau will show if the company has had any complaints in the past and what former clients had to say about their experience working with the company and their public adjusters.   

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