A Public Adjuster is a licensed professional who can assist you in evaluating damage to property, gathering supporting information, and negotiating with an insurance company on your behalf after a major disaster.
The Process Of Public Adjustment
While insurance coverage exists to protect homeowners and reimburse them after a disaster, many contracts include clauses and provisions that can make it difficult for you to obtain benefits. A Public Adjuster will begin their efforts to help you with an examination of your property and the damage sustained. During this process, they will gather supporting evidence of the damage to act as proof of the claims – this information is often necessary to get the full value of your insurance benefits, so it’s important to obtain it as early as possible.
Your Adjuster may ask for additional information while examining your property – for example, if you lost a rare piece of art to storm damage, then the Adjuster might ask about the purchase price of the art to help them accurately tally your damages.
Once the information has been gathered, the Public Adjuster will review the terms of your insurance coverage and help you determine what you should actually be reimbursed for. They will consider local legislation and the actual terms of your contract during this stage of the adjustment process, with an emphasis on helping you get the largest settlement possible.
Finally, the Public Adjuster will talk with your insurance company, file claims and documents, attend in-person meetings with you, and otherwise support your efforts to obtain your benefits. Remember: The Public Adjuster works for you, not your insurance company, and they will be trying to expedite your payments as much as possible. They will also take your status and location into consideration – businesses and homeowners alike can benefit from the services of a Public Adjuster, and they will take your needs into account when working on your case.
A Public Adjuster is not permitted to bar the insurance company from the damaged property or stop them from conducting an independent examination. However, legislation also specifies that the Public Adjuster cannot be barred from the insurance company’s in-person meetings with you. Any attempt to stop your Public Adjuster from helping you is likely in violation of the governing legislation, and you should be firm about your desire for their presence.
Do You Need a Public Adjuster?
If you’ve suffered a major disaster like an in-home fire, flooding, severe vandalism, or even damage from rioting, then you are likely to benefit from having a Public Adjuster’s assistance. Most of the help they provide revolves around the terms of your insurance policy and the specifics of the damage done to your property. As the policy holder for the property in question, the burden of proof typically lies with you unless required otherwise by law – which means that you’ll need to have unimpeachable evidence supporting your claims before the insurance company is required to reimburse you for the damages you’ve suffered.
How Much do Adjustment Services Cost?
In general, a Public Adjuster will bill for 15% to 20% of the total settlement you receive from your insurance company. If your damages are especially high (i.e. over ~$250,000), the percentage rate will drop as the total settlement increases. Keep in mind that many states place limits on the fees a Public Adjuster can charge. For example, Public Adjusters are limited to 20% in most cases, and 10% for certain types of emergency claims. Be sure to ask your Public Adjuster about local fee caps and what they are permitted to charge prior to signing a contract with them.
When Should a Public Adjuster Get Involved?
Public Adjusters should be involved as early as possible. You may not be making good decisions in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, so agreeing to your insurance company’s first offer might result in receiving fewer benefits then you are entitled to. However, a Public Adjuster can become involved at any step of the process to assist with tasks like filing claims and reviewing paperwork.