When to Hire a Public Insurance Adjuster vs. an Attorney | Kanner & Pintaluga

When to Hire a Public Insurance Adjuster vs. an Attorney

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Your property has suffered massive damage – much more than you can hope to pay off on your own. Luckily, you have insurance on that property, so you call a representative from your insurance company and file an insurance claim. After a few back-and-forths, a bit of phone tag and endless chats with the claims adjuster, the insurance company only agrees to pay you a fraction of what you believe your claim should be worth according to your policy.

If you’ve run into this problem with your insurance company, you don’t have to sit back and accept the answers they give you. A public insurance adjuster or an attorney can help negotiate a much higher payout.

What Is a Public Insurance Adjuster?

A public insurance adjuster is a claims adjuster that works on behalf of a policyholder to help them collect as much as possible on theirPublic claims adjusters help determine the loss value of your damages. insurance claim. While most public insurance adjusters handle claims over property loss and damage, some specialize in other types of claims as well. A qualified public insurance adjuster should have either a state license or non-resident license, plenty of references who give glowing reviews and experience in the type of claim you are filing.

Most people never think to hire a public insurance adjuster because insurance companies readily provide their own claims adjusters. Policyholders generally accept this help because claims are tricky business; however, you should not blindly follow their advice. Remember – the insurance company is a business and wants to pay as little on your claim as possible to maximize their profits. Receiving full financial compensation to get your life back on track is in your best interest, not theirs.

Whenever you file a claim, you will work with one or both of the following types of adjusters:

  • Staff adjusters are employees of your insurance company that represent their interests. Their goal is to settle your claim while paying you the least amount of money possible.
  • Independent adjusters are employed by an independent adjusting firm and work on behalf of your insurance company on an as-needed basis. While they aren’t an employee of the insurance company, they are akin to a contract worker and are on the insurance company’s side, not yours.

As you can see, even the most honest, experienced staff or independent adjuster has the potential to undervalue your claim. Hiring a public insurance adjuster ensures you have an experienced advocate to go up against the insurance company’s adjusters.

When Should I Hire a Public Insurance Adjuster?

You can think of a public insurance adjuster as your first line of defense against a greedy insurance company. It’s worth mentioning, however, that some companies may offer an honest sum and quality customer service. If you’re pleased with the staff or independent adjuster your company provides, you may not need to hire a public insurance adjuster. If you run into any of the following issues, though, hiring an attorney or public insurance adjuster may be in your best interests:

  • You suspect your insurance company has processed your claim incorrectly and is not paying you the amount you’re owed
  • Your current claims adjuster is confusing, frustrating or bad at communicating
  • The insurance company is pressuring you to settle before you’re comfortable
  • Your policy is hard to understand
  • You do not have time to handle your claim on your own
  • You are unfamiliar with assessing damages and the general claims process
  • You have lost more than 10 thousand dollars’ worth of property

What Does a Public Insurance Adjuster Do?

A public insurance adjuster can handle every part of the claims process, from clarifying your policy and assessing your property damage to filing or re-filing a claim and negotiating with your insurance company’s claims adjuster. They’re essentially your representative, saving you time and hassle during the claims process.

Unlike a staff or independent adjuster, you will have to pay your public insurance adjuster for their hard work. Typically, they will charge you somewhere between 10 and 20 percent of the final claim payout, with inexperienced adjusters charging less. If the property damage is particularly extensive, most adjusters will lower the percentage they charge or cap their fee. Some states have also passed laws to prevent public insurance adjusters from overcharging their clients.

What a public insurance adjuster can’t do is force your insurance company to pay more on your claim, since they don’t have any legal power. If you’re getting nowhere with your insurance company even after working with a public insurance adjuster, it may be time to You need to know when it's a good time to hire an attorney.hire an attorney.

When to Choose an Attorney

You may choose to seek the help of an attorney when:

  • You’ve reached a standstill in coverage and payment negotiations with the insurance company
  • You want to sue the insurance company for denying you coverage or full payment

Make sure you contact an attorney while you are still within the statute of limitations to ensure your case is viable. After hiring an attorney, you should let them handle all communication with the insurance company.

The payment structure for attorneys is slightly different than that for public insurance adjusters. Most charge a contingency fee of 33 to 40 percent of the settlement amount. Always be sure to ask questions if you are unsure about cost.