When you file a claim, your homeowner’s insurance company will assign a claims adjuster to you. The adjuster’s job is to check your property damage and determine a fair payout amount based on the levels of coverage you carry on your policy.
Rather than using the insurance company’s adjuster, some policyholders choose to hire a public adjuster instead. A public adjuster will assess the damage to your property, help determine the scope of repairs and estimate the replacement value for those repairs. The big difference is that instead of working on behalf of the insurance company like an insurance claims adjuster does, a public claims adjuster works for you.
After your homeowner’s insurance company issues the settlement, the adjuster receives a percentage of the payout amount as payment for their services.
How Do You Hire a Public Adjuster?
There are several things you should look into before hiring a public adjuster. But first, check their credentials. Public insurance adjusters must be licensed in every state where they practice, and like some other professionals, they must take part in continuing education courses to maintain their licensure.
Only hire a licensed contractor or attorney for claim adjustment services if they are licensed. Practicing without a license is against the law, and the license is an essential benchmark of knowledge and qualification.
Some public adjustment firms send one adjuster to do an estimate and another to follow up and analyze a claim. As a policyholder, you might prefer to work with a single adjuster, but having a firm send more than one person can be good. For example, one adjuster might take over the claim because they have more experience with a specific type of damage, like fires or flooding.
Ask your potential adjuster for the contact information of some of their previous clients. You can also read reviews of public adjusters online. The National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA) has an Online Directory of Public Adjusters. But, membership does not prevent someone from being a licensed or qualified adjuster for your claim.
A public adjuster generally handles the entirety of a claim for their clients, including communication with the insurer, but some policyholders might still want some level of involvement. Please discuss this with your public adjuster before you hire them. You’d like to hire an adjuster with whom you are comfortable communicating throughout the process.
How Does a Public Adjuster Get Paid?
A public adjuster gets paid a percentage of the claim settlement. This can range anywhere from 10-20%. Yet, the 2010 report on public adjusters compared claim settlements with and without a public adjuster. Insurance holders with a public adjuster had an average payout of $17,187 vs. $2,029 for those who didn’t. That is a 847% better payout.
The numbers seem to add up to the fact that hiring a public adjuster can be beneficial. Paying 20% on a 800%+ increase seems worth the time and expense.
Timeline of a Public Adjuster
There’s no denying that hiring a public adjuster can take longer on new claims. After all, the public adjuster will be more thorough in their inspections than an insurance adjuster. The 2010 report from OPPAGA shows a 300-day time extension on most new claims. But, reopened claims have little difference with or without a public adjuster.
That said, timelines may vary depending on the situation. For example, after widespread damage, such as a hurricane, insurance companies are being flooded with claims. They take much longer. In contrast, a straightforward claim may take longer.