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.
A public insurance adjuster is a claims adjuster that works on behalf of a policyholder to help them collect as much as possible on their 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:
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.
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:
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 hire an attorney.
You may choose to seek the help of an attorney when:
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.