Questions To Ask When Deciding Whether To Hire A Public Insurance Claims Adjuster

If you have major damage to your home due to a peril named in your home insurance policy, you may find the claim filing process overwhelming. When seeking help, a public insurance claims adjuster can help remove some of the stressful burden by assessing the damage, calculating the repair or rebuilding costs, completing the required documentation, and working with your insurance company and providing what it needs to expedite payment of your claim. That's why when looking to hire a public claims adjuster, there are specific questions you should ask.

When should you hire a public claims adjuster?

  1. If you have a large property claim, but your insurance company is dragging its feet. For example, your home burns to the ground and you are left with nothing. Understandably, you are anxious to get your claim settled quickly so that you can replace your losses.

  2. You feel that your insurer is being unfair. Although most insurance companies settle claims in a fair and timely manner, some companies don't send adjusters out as quickly. You may be waiting days instead of hours. And once the company's adjuster does come out, what the insurer offers you may fall short of what you expected to receive to help cover your losses. In that case, you may decide to dispute the claim settlement.

  3. You feel like the insurance company's claims adjuster may do what is best for the company. Therefore, you want to hire a public claims adjuster who will work in your behalf and protect your best interests. It's to your advantage to hire an adjuster who is familiar with local building codes and the costs of materials and labor in your region.

What should you look for in a public claims adjuster?

  • Competence. It's important to hire someone with knowledge and expertise. Settling an insurance claim — particularly a large one — takes time and effort. If you don't have the time or know-how to follow the process through, a claims adjuster will do the job for you.

  • Experience. Ask for references and credentials, such as membership in the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters. Also, to be a certified public claims adjuster, an individual must have a specified number of years experience in the field and pass a certification exam. Contacting the person's references can give you an idea of how the claims adjuster performed, especially in the areas of speed, availability, and accuracy.

  • Licensing. Many states license public claims adjusters; therefore, your state insurance department can tell you if an individual has unresolved complaints.

  • Integrity. Look for an adjuster who upholds a professional code of conduct and avoids conflicts of interest, such recommending particular contractors with whom the individual has ties to repair or reconstruct your property.

How does a public claims adjuster get paid?

If you hire a public claims adjuster, you — not your insurance company — are responsible for paying the adjuster. Although fees vary, public adjusters receive a specified percentage of your claim as payment. Be sure to get the fee in writing before signing a contract.

Contact a public claims adjuster in your area to learn more about insurance appraisals and the like.