What is a Public Adjuster and do I need one?
A public adjuster is a consultant who is hired to represent the victim, or insured, in a property insurance claim against the insurance company. The public adjuster will prepare the necessary claim documents for submission to the insurance company. To differentiate themselves from their competition, public adjusters may use different titles such as “Private Claims Consultant”, “Personal Loss Consultant”, “Private Adjuster”, “Adjuster for the Insured”, and/or may be connected with a legal firm. They charge a commission for their consulting services that range from 2% to 10% of the claim. These fees may apply to the entire claim and are typically not covered or reimbursable under your homeowner’s insurance policy. The fees will be deducted from your overall insurance settlement, perhaps limiting your financial ability to complete your repairs.
If you have been unsuccessful in the settlement of your homeowner’s insurance claim, a reputable public adjuster may be useful. Public adjusters are usually knowledgeable and experienced with problematic insurance claims. Many public adjusters attempt to settle insurance claims by taking an aggressive position against the insurance company. If you have exhausted all reasonable methods of claim settlement, and believe a more aggressive approach is necessary, then you may want to consider hiring a public adjuster.
If you have not experienced any problems and your insurance adjuster has not demonstrated ill-intent or irresponsible behavior, it may not be in your best interest to initiate a confrontational relationship with your insurance company. Hiring a public adjuster may put your insurance company in a very defensive position when they are ready to provide fair and reasonable claim service, resulting in unnecessary conflict and undesirable results.
If you intend to rebuild, you will ultimately need to find a reputable and qualified restoration contractor, whether you hire a public adjuster or not. Hiring a public adjuster before hiring a restoration contractor often adds unnecessary time, expense, and difficulty to an already traumatic situation. To promote their services, public adjusters may attempt to dissuade you from using a reputable contractor to assist you with your claim settlement. They frequently refer to them as “the insurance company’s contractor” in an effort to convince you somehow that the contractor is trying to reduce your settlement. This will not be the case with a reputable restoration contractor. The restoration industry is regulated by certain practices and pricing guidelines, so a reputable contractor will ensure its integrity, as its relationship with all of the insurance companies is very important to their business.
Excerpts from “After the Fire,” a 1-800-BoardUp, Inc. publication.