Property Loss Professionals: Who Are They and How Can They Help You?


...of the settlement, depending on the insurer’s procedures. Other times the independent adjuster will be replaced by a staff adjuster during the claim process. Note that it is always the insured’s responsibility to document their claim, not the insurance company’s.

Public Adjusters

Who are they?

A public insurance adjuster is an insurance loss professional who represents the interests of only the policyholder in settling a property insurance claim. A public adjuster works as an advocate for the policyholder.

In most states (45 out of 50) public insurance adjusters must be licensed by the state in which they conduct business. By the nature of professional licensure, public adjusters only handle first-party property loss claims. They prepare, present and negotiate first-party claims for their clients. Their professional code of conduct requires that they work respectfully opposite the insurance company to ensure that the policyholder recovers an agreed upon settlement that returns them to their pre-loss condition.

What role do they play?

When a public adjuster works on a policyholder’s claim, one of the first things he or she does is inspect the damage and analyze the insurance policy — similar in function to what the insurance company’s adjuster does for the insurance company. For example, public adjusters prepare estimates and inventories to repair or replace damaged property just like the insurance company’s adjuster does. Another similarity would be that both the insurance company’s adjuster and a public adjuster might engage an inventory specialist to establish the contents portion of a claim, the difference being that the public adjuster is always looking at the claim through the eyes of the insured.

How are they compensated?

Most public adjusters are paid based on a small percentage of the total loss settlement of the claim(s) with which they have assisted the policyholder. Public adjusting fees are minimal in relation to the ultimate increase in the final claim settlement and are typically more than offset by the increase. In most states public adjusters are allowed to work on a percentage fee. In those states where contingency fees are not allowed, public adjusters will charge an hourly rate or a flat fee.

Although there are restrictions in some states as to when a public adjuster can contact a policyholder, a public adjuster can be hired to represent you from day one.

If you run into a problem with your claim and decide to hire a public adjuster after the process has started, you may be able to negotiate the fee with the public adjuster based on an overage fee — a percentage of all new dollars received above the insurance company’s original offer as a result of the public adjuster’s work.