Hiring a Public Adjuster to Handle a Claim

You probably know that you can hire an attorney to represent you when filing a liability claim against another party. In fact, the use of attorneys is fairly common with automobile accidents and slip-and-fall injuries. However, did you know that you could hire someone to represent you when filing a homeowners insurance claim with your insurance company?

The loss of your home is a very traumatic event. As a result, you are likely unfamiliar with the claim process and how to properly value your claim for maximum recovery from your insurance policy. This is where a public adjuster can be beneficial. Hiring a public adjuster as your representative and advocate when dealing with your insurance company to resolve your claim can alleviate much of the stress. Public adjusters are retained by the policyholder when resolving first-party claims with home insurance companies, not unlike attorneys who help claimants with third-party claims.

A public adjuster is similar to an insurance company adjuster, with the primary difference being that the public adjuster works for the policyholder instead of the insurance company. To find a public adjuster in the event of a claim, you can start with the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters NAPIA. In most states, public adjusters must be licensed, so your state department of insurance will have information on qualified individuals. In addition, the Insurance Information Institute has a direct link to the various states’ departments of insurance.

Once your home has suffered damage, you should immediately notify your insurance company of the incident and the potential claim. It is at this point that you need to decide if you want to hire a public adjuster. If your claim is relatively minor and you are familiar with construction concepts, you may be able to handle the claim on your own without hiring someone else, but if the claim is complex and includes significant rebuilding, you might consider retaining a public adjuster for assistance. Remember, the sooner you retain the public adjuster, the more impact he or she will have on your claim.

Public adjusters work solely for you in presenting claims to the insurance company. Their objective is to help you properly evaluate your claim in the context of your insurance policy’s coverages for maximum recovery. As a layperson, you likely don’t understand all the nuances of home insurance policies, whereas the public adjuster’s role is that of an expert in insurance policies and claims, so their knowledge of the industry can help you get as much as you can from your policy.

As for compensation, most public adjusters are paid a portion of the total claim recovery, generally expressed as a percentage of the claim. This fee is deducted from your insurance recovery, not an additional expense covered by your home insurance policy. When meeting with your prospective public adjuster, you need to clearly understand the compensation structure to avoid any disputes at the end of the claims process.

All in all, the best time to familiarize yourself with the services of public adjusters is before you have a serious claim, so research more about their services just in case you’ll need to hire one someday.

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