Why should you hire a public adjuster?

Sometimes filing a claim with your insurance agency doesn’t always work out like you planned. Sadly, we’re familiar with the corner-cutting, shallow investigation and low-ball negotiating involved often enough by carriers when settling your claim.  Its not all carrier’s all the time, nor it is all adjusters.  But whether it be extreme workload, poor attitude, lack of expertise or corporate culture it seems that the need for a public adjuster is greater than it ever was.

Hiring a public adjuster to research, submit and present your claim and advocate for your benefits is very frequently well worth it.  We will know he best things the say, perform a more thorough inspection of the damage, know the right places to look for “hidden”damage, have a better understanding of the benefits available under your policy, and develop a more thorough estimate than your carrier or their contractor.  Our construction background even gives us a leg-up on developing an even more thorough scope than your contractor might due to our being able to translate “insurance-ese” into “contractor-ese”

Please find below three of our favorite blogs that may help you make that decision.

Read more: http://www.bankrate.com/finance/insurance/hiring-a-public-adjuster-1.aspx#ixzz3ThOSYe5u

Hiring A Public Adjuster

Filing an insurance claim after a disaster is a stressful process. To avoid having to deal with the hassle, and with hopes of getting more money from the insurance company, many homeowners seek the help of a public adjuster.

A public adjuster is an insurance claims specialist who interprets the homeowner’s policy, assesses the damage and how much it will cost to repair, and negotiates with the insurance company on behalf of the homeowner until the claim is settled.

Public adjusters market themselves as professionals who act solely on behalf of the policyholder and help ensure homeowners get the money they are entitled to under the policy. They differ from adjusters hired by the insurance companies to assist with the claim because their compensation comes out of the homeowner’s pocket, not the insurance company’s.

Homeowners don’t always need the help of a public adjuster, says David Barrack, executive director of the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters in Potomac Falls, Va. But for many, the assistance is crucial, he says.

“It’s a judgment call,” he says. “You have to determine whether you need the service or not.”

When do you need a public adjuster?

Some people decide to hire an adjuster simply because they don’t have the time to deal with the insurance claim process, Barrack says.

The general rule of thumb is if you estimate you have losses of $10,000 or more, it’s probably wise to hire a public adjuster.

“But it really depends on your circumstances and how the insurance company is reacting,” Barrack says.

If your adjuster doesn’t return calls or answer questions properly, or if you think the adjuster left any damages off your claim, you should probably get your own public adjuster, says George Skidis Jr., a public adjuster in Belleville, Ill., who worked as an adjuster for insurance companies for more than a decade before becoming a public adjuster in 1994.

“Insurance companies are reputable businesses, but they are only as good as the field adjuster looking at your claim,” Skidis says. “If you’re lucky, you’re going to have someone with 30 years of experience looking at your claim. In that case, you’re probably fine. But if not, you need to hire somebody who knows what they are doing to look at the damages.”

How do you go about finding a good public adjuster?

One place to start your search for a public adjuster is the NAPIA website. The organization has a vetting process and requires members to be licensed and to have been in business for at least two years to become members. Keep in mind having a license alone is not a guarantee you are hiring the best, says Skidis.

“Go by prior clients and word of mouth,” he says. “Check their websites, get a reference list and talk to some of their clients.”

It’s also helpful to check with your state’s department of insurance to see if there are any complaints filed against the adjuster you’re about to hire.

ALSO:

When Should You Engage a Claims Professional

A question I often hear from prospective clients is whether I believe it is necessary for them to hire an attorney or public adjuster at that particular time. Most insurance claimants only have one or two insurance claims over the course of their life and are therefore unfamiliar with the process. This is one reason a public adjuster should be retained at the outset of a claim. Your interests and the interests of your insurance carrier are not aligned. Despite what the commercials say, you are not in good hands and you are not going to be treated like a good neighbor. A public adjuster is experienced when it comes to handling insurance claims and can efficiently guide you through the process.

Another very important reason to retain a public adjuster at the outset is so you can get an early estimate of your damages. A secret of the insurance industry is they use proprietary software to estimate claims (usually Xactimate).

This program is also used by public adjusters. Often the process works like this; the claim is reported, the carrier sends their adjuster out who writes a low estimate. The policyholder is not happy with that estimate and then retains a public adjuster who comes in and writes an accurate estimate. The two estimates are now worlds apart and that leads to larger fights. However, if you involve a public adjuster before the carrier writes their initial estimate two things can happen. First, the public adjuster can write the accurate estimate and they can then provide the Xactimate data file to the carrier’s adjuster. Second, the public adjuster will accompany the carrier’s adjuster during their inspection and can point out damage that may have been overlooked by the carrier if they were along. The carrier adjuster leaves the inspection with a digital copy of the estimate (that they can use to create their own estimate) and a thorough understanding of the scope of the damage. Nine times out of ten, this will lead to a more accurate initial estimate from the carrier which will eliminate the need for numerous claim supplements and lead to a much faster resolution of the claim.

Therefore, once you realize you have damage to your property covered by your insurance policy, your first call should be to the carrier to report your claim. Your second call should be to a public adjuster to assist you in the claim.

A response to this post by Jason SolomonFebruary 20, 2015 9:38 AM

Robert,

Excellent analysis and explanation. One might also argue that depending on the severity of the damage, the insured’s first call should be to a Public Adjuster even before they call their insurance company. Often times insurance carrier’s claim centers ask tricky questions which aim to tie up or confuse policyholders into saying things which may compromise coverage on their claim(s). To ensure these types of common claim reporting errors are avoided, it is likely best to call a Public Adjuster at the first sign of damage to your home or business. A Public Adjuster will gather the correct information and report the claim properly and timely to the carrier.

The link to the actual blog above is

http://www.propertyinsurancecoveragelaw.com/2015/02/articles/insurance/when-should-you-engage-a-claims-professional/index.html

This same firm, Merlin Group, posted an excellent blog in 2010, written by Nicole Vinson the link and blog are below

http://www.propertyinsurancecoveragelaw.com/2010/11/articles/insurance/three-reasons-to-hire-a-public-adjuster/

Three Reasons to Hire a Public Adjuster

Not long ago, I was attending a deposition when the insurance company’s lawyer questioned my client about why he had hired a public adjuster.

The non-verbal reaction of my client spoke volumes. With wide eyes, he leaned closer to the attorney and explained that his world was turned upside down the day of the loss and he was not just completely overwhelmed by the destruction to his home, but, more than that, he was concerned for the wellbeing and care of his family. He knew he needed professional assistance because of the magnitude of the loss and his experience in dealing with his insurance company on a prior loss.

As more was learned about the circumstances of the loss, the sincere appreciation and respect the insured held for his public insurance adjuster was clear. At the time of the loss, he had more questions than answers and did not know where to turn until he hired his public adjuster.

Recently, I came across a blog written by KDhulkonen criticizing homeowners and cautioning against hiring public adjusters. The post, 3 reasons not to hire a Public Adjuster, lists three of the author’s opinions about public adjusters. However, insureds should not be discouraged from hiring a PA.

KDhulkonen’s Reason 1: Maximizing Settlement

KDhulkonen asserts “Homeowners adjusters pay whatever it costs (less deductible) to get your home and your personal property back to the way it was prior to the loss. This is really not an item in which a public adjuster can ‘maximize’.”

The author correctly quotes the principle of insurance, but the author provides no authority to support his assertion that seems to state that all claims are handled properly by insurance companies. This is an overreaching statement. If this information was correct, I doubt that public insurance adjusters would have a profession. However,there is data in Florida that shows the use of a public insurance adjuster does increase the final amount of the claim payments. I discussed this data and the OPAGGA report in my post “Public Adjusters and Sinkhole Claims.” The claim payment increase referenced in the OPAGGA report, however, is not limited to insureds who hire public adjusters for one particular kind of claim. Several insureds have explained that, but for the assistance of their public insurance adjuster, they would not have received the amount of their claim payment for their loss.

KDhulkonen’s Reason 2: The PA is paid a percentage of your recovery

Yes, a public adjuster is paid for his or her services. I don’t think homeowners are usually surprised or against paying for a professional to assist with the claim. Many public adjusters who assist claimants are paid on a contingency fee basis only, meaning, the insured is not paying an hourly rate for the services or having to pay any money for the services to begin. When an insured pays a public adjuster a small percentage of the claim payments collected by the PA or ultimately recovered, the PA can get started helping right away and should work diligently because he has a desire to see you get properly paid for your claim so that he receives payment for his services. If a public adjuster is wrong or doesn’t work hard to obtain a payment, he likely will not be paid. If this happened with great frequency, the work of public adjusters would be extinct.

KDhulkonen’s Reason 3: The Grief of the Claim

KDhulkonen argues that the grief caused to homeowners is not caused by the insurance company’s actions but by the traumatic loss itself.

No one doubts that damages to a home cause stress and grief to the homeowners. These difficulties are only compounded when a claim is not properly handled and the insured feels the insurance company is not standing behind the promises in the policy. Because a claim can be emotional for insureds, many policyholders hire help with their claims and the emotional burdens.

Other readers also pointed out why public adjusters are necessary-

Insurance expert said:

A public adjuster is licensed in the state they do business in by the State Dept. of Insurance. I have known several people that have suffered major fire, water and wind losses that received a huge recovery from their insurance policy verse what they might have gotten by not using a public adjuster. HIRE A PUBLIC ADJUSTER IN EVERY MAJOR INSURANCE CLAIM!

Another reader explained the need for representation by a PA:

Public Adjusters exist because of the inherent conflict of interest that exists when one person or entity attempts to represent two sides of a financial transaction…

If you have suffered a property loss to your home or business and are considering hiring a public insurance adjuster to assist with your insurance claim, you can rest assured that if you do a little research, you can likely find a public adjuster who will help you. As the PA will likely be paid a contingent percentage of your claim, the PA will work to increase the amount of the payment you are rightly owed from the insurance claim. Further, the PA will take over dealing with the insurance company and at least relieve part of your stress.