Many questions arise as to when a public adjuster should be brought into the property damage claims process…should they be involved from the beginning? Is it okay to bring them on in the middle of a claim? What about after a claim has been settled and now you’re having second thoughts? We answer these common questions:
My insurance claim is underway and I received an offer from my insurance company but I’m worried that the settlement amount is too low. Is it too late to hire a public adjuster?
It’s not too late to hire a public adjuster. It’s common for homeowners and business owners to try to handle property damage claims on their own, especially if it’s the first time they’ve incurred such damages. By hiring a public adjuster, however, you have an expert on your side with the experience needed to increase the settlement to the amount you deserve.
A public adjuster is an insurance professional who works on behalf of the policyholder to settle a claim. They will help to:
- Valuate the total loss, including building damage, contents, business interruption and additional expenses;
- Review your policy to identify all aspects of coverage that could be applied to your claim;
- Present the claim to your insurance carrier;
- Negotiate with the insurance carrier on your behalf; and
- Settle the claim quickly and efficiently for the maximum amount you are entitled to.
Can I hire an attorney to settle my property damage claim?
Public adjusters are experts in determining the total scope and value of property damage and business interruption losses. When a policyholder turns to an attorney to help settle a claim, it’s not uncommon for a public adjuster to be hired by the attorney for their expertise in these areas.
When there’s a dispute with an insurance company regarding the amount of settlement you are entitled to, a public adjuster who can do the entire scope of work needed will be your best defense. Most damage claims are able to be settled without the need for legal representation, saving you both time and the extra expense of hiring an attorney.
I hired a contractor to repair the damages to my property; can he or she help me settle my insurance claim, too?
While restoration contractors are an essential part of the recovery process, they cannot help you settle your insurance claim. These contractors are experts in repairing your property to its original state; they do not have the experience needed to file claims on behalf of the policyholder. If a restoration contractor attempts to manage an insurance claim, it would be considered the Unauthorized Practice of Public Adjusting, which is against the law and can result in arrest and felony charges, depending on the state that the infraction occurs.
Public adjusters are professionals who are licensed to work on behalf of the policyholder to settle property damage claims.
Can the public adjuster I hire also work as my contractor on-site for my property damage claim?
Just as it’s against the law for a contractor to take on the role of public adjuster, it is also against the law for a public adjuster to act as a contractor on a claim. If a public adjuster were to take on the role of contractor, it would be considered a conflict of interest and the Unauthorized Practice of Public Adjusting, which could result in legal action being taken against them.
My insurance company has an adjuster who is assigned to my claim – why can’t I just use him or her to help settle my claim?
There is one key difference between a public adjuster and the adjuster provided by an insurance company: a public adjuster works on behalf of the policyholder to settle a claim for the maximum amount possible, while the insurance company’s adjuster works on behalf of the insurance company. The adjuster assigned to your claim by your insurance company will be looking out for the company’s best interests.
As a policyholder, it is your duty to prove to your insurance company the money that you are owed. By hiring a public adjuster, you will have a professional working on your behalf through every step of the process.
My property damage claim was settled with my insurance company and I received check. However, now I am having more issues resulting from the initial damages. Is it too late to hire a public adjuster now?
It is not too late. Oftentimes there are supplemental damage claims that can be filed for things such as undiscovered water damage, or damage behind walls once reconstruction starts. Ideally, having a public adjuster on board early will help to identify these common problem areas and adjust the claim accordingly. The only condition to this is when the policyholder signs a release, thereby letting the insurance carrier off the hook for additional payment on the particular claim.