Public Adjusters are licensed professionals who specialize in property loss recovery. A Public Adjuster is employed by the you, the policyholder, and negotiates the settlement on your behalf. They will:
Inform you about the insurance claims process
Answer any questions about the claims process
Review your insurance policy
Document all necessary information
Prepare, file, and manage all claims documentation
Negotiate the maximum possible settlement for your property loss
Yes, there are three (3) types of adjusters:
1) Public Adjusters -The only adjusters who specifically represent you.
2) Insurance Company Adjuster An employee of the Insurance Company who settles your insurance claim, based on the company’s estimates. The Company Adjuster’s main responsibility is to settle your claim in the best interests of Company.
3) Independent Adjuster Best described as an Independent contractor, independent adjusters are hired by the Insurance Company to represent the company in settling your claim. Just like a Company Adjuster, the Independent Adjuster’s settles your claim in the best interest of the Insurance Company.
Most likely, not.
An independent study by a Florida insurance company showed that public adjusters typically get over 700% higher settlements than those who did not use a public adjuster.
Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability, January 2010
B) Insurance companies train their adjusters to minimize your settlement. Some adjusters even get paid bonuses for minimizing your settlement.
If you were to handle your insurance claim yourself, you will be dealing with insurance company professionals that are experts at dealing with inexperienced policyholders. Company adjusters often try to either repair what needs to be replaced, and/or use lower company estimates for repair costs. If possible, a company adjusters will try to convince you there is no claim and reject it all together. As an inexperienced/untrained policyholder, you won’t realize what is entitled to you.
C) The insurance claims process is a very delicate procedure. There are many things that can hurt your case, if not prepared correctly. If details are missing from your insurance claim documentation, it could cost you money and leave the burden of repair cost on you. Examples of common oversights:
Not properly documenting the full extent of the damage/loss
Overlooking Florida state polices that apply to your claim
Overlooking the rights of the policyholder
D) The insurance claims process is often very frustrating and time-consuming. The insurance companies realize this, and hope it will discourage you, and make you want to settle for less. Hiring a Public Adjuster will not only take most of this stress and uncertainty off your shoulders, it is your best chance at receiving full compensation for your losses.
Most people don’t realize that they can re-open claims (called supplemental claims) within a 3 year period, and receive additional compensation if a claim been underpaid. However, this is not an easy task, because now you must prove that you didn’t receive adequate compensation for your losses. Certain procedures, documentation, and other essential details are necessary to file a successful supplemental claim. Public adjusters are experts at filing successful supplemental claims, and therefore have a much higher success rate than those without Public Adjuster representation.
Submitting a supplemental claim is a lot harder to settle than an initial claim. There is a greater possibility that the supplemental claim will be rejected, or settled for less than expected amounts.
Client A has a public adjuster estimate that total repairs for his damages to the amount of $100,000 ($75,000 in roof damage and $25,000 in water damage). If the public adjuster settles the claim for the full $100,000, Client A would typically get between $80,000 to $90,000 in compensation, after fees.
Client A decides to try and initially settle the claim him/herself. The insurance company only agrees to settle for $5,000 in roof repairs and $10,000 in water damages, totaling $15,000 in settlement.
Client A decides to now hire the public adjuster to try and get the other $85,000. After the Public Adjuster examines the damage, reviews the initial settlement, and submits the supplemental claim, the insurance company argues that the Client A has already settled for some of the repairs and refuses to settle for the additional $85,000. As a result, the insurance company agrees to pay only $5,000 for the supplemental claim.
Client A has two options
1) Take the settlement of the supplemental claim of $5,000, resulting in a final settlement of $20,000
2) File a lawsuit against the insurance company
If Client A decides to file a lawsuit against the insurance company, they must now hire a lawyer. They are now at the mercy of the court, and two possibilities can come of this lawsuit.
A) The court rules against them and they receive nothing
B) The court rules in favor of them and decides to give them additional compensation. However, the amount awarded by the court is usually less then the total, so as to not show bias to either side. So let’s say they get an additional $25,000. Client A must now pay about 40% of that in lawyer fees. This means that they will end up collecting $15,000 for their supplemental claim, totaling about $30,000 maximum.
At this point, if Client A had used a Public Adjuster they would have been able to show the insurance company that the roof needed to be replaced, not repaired, and document it. Once it goes to court you now have to convince a jury that a repair is not the solution. This is much harder to do and often less successful.
Summary of example
If Public Adjuster handled initial claim
Result $80,000 to $90,000 in your pocket
If Client A handled initial claim and hires public adjuster for supplemental claim
The first thing you should know is; Public Adjusters are paid on a contingency basis. In other words, if you don’t collect on your insurance claim, you will not be charged any fees. This is a win/win situation, because there are no upfront fees. Public Adjusters will provide a free inspection of your home; including a review of your insurance policies, overview of your damages/losses, and recommendations for handling your claim. If you settle your claim, Public Adjusters will collect a fee based on a percentage of your settlement.
The two most important things to do after experiencing a loss is to notify your insurance company and to contact a Public Adjuster. You must document and take pictures of the loss before anything is thrown out or the “damage” is cleaned up. This is to insure you are fully compensated for your loss. The Insurance Company must see pictures showing the full extent of the damage otherwise they can deny it. If you wait to do either of those things it will be harder to recover compensation for your losses.
Check Their Credentials
A) Licensed and Bonded
It is important that you hire a Public Adjuster that has a current valid license by the Florida Department of Financial Services. In addition, all Florida Public Adjusters are required to hold a $50,000 Surety Bond. Some people misrepresent themselves as public adjusters, so it is important to request their license number and verify if it is valid by checking with the Florida Department of Financial Services.
Ask about their adjusting history. Have they handled claims similar to yours? Have they handled business claims before?
C) Courtesy, Comfort, and Professionalism
Public Adjusters should be upfront, honest, and open about all aspects of the claims process. If you have questions about how claims work, the contract, or anything else, the public adjuster should explain it to you.