Once you have notified your insurance company of your loss, you will meet with a claims or field adjuster. Your insurance company provides the adjuster at no charge to you — it’s included in the cost of your insurance policy.
A claims adjuster will:
- Investigate the circumstances of a loss
- Discuss it with you
- Provide an assessment of the damage amount to the insurance company
A claims adjuster may also:
- Help you arrange repairs for your damaged property
- If there’s a liability claim, try to find out who’s responsible.
Before You Meet the Adjuster
- Review your policy to learn the type and extent of coverage that you have.
- Make a list of questions to ask.
- Remember you are conducting serious negotiations with someone who is working for your insurance company, not you. Do not minimize the extent of your loss or damage.
Hiring an Independent/Public Adjuster
You can also hire an independent/public adjuster or ‘claims consultant.’ This person or company works for you as an intermediary between you and your insurance company, negotiating with the insurance company to try to get a maximum amount for your claim.
A public adjuster will:
- Give you an independent opinion
- Help you collect money on your loss
- Deal with the company’s adjuster
- Handle your inventory
- Obtain estimates for repair on your property
Normally, the independent adjuster may take a percentage or charge a fee (usually 5 to 15% of the amount you recover) for their service.
WHN TIP – Additional Fees: An independent adjuster’s fee isn’t covered by your insurance policy. Sometimes after a disaster, the percentage that public adjusters may charge is set by the insurance department. However, use your best judgment and beware of independent adjusters who get “kickbacks” or “referral fees” that influence their recommendations.
Before You Hire an Independent/Public Adjuster
- Check his or her qualifications by calling your state insurance department. Click here to link to your state’s insurance department Web site. Most sites offer a ‘license lookup’ tool.
- Ask your agent, a lawyer or friends and associates for the name of a professional adjuster they can recommend.
- Avoid individuals who go from door to door after a major disaster unless you are sure they are qualified.
For More Information
National Association of Insurance Commissioners
The site offers consumer publications, alerts, company and general insurance information. Click here for a link to insurance departments by state. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) is the organization of insurance regulators from the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the four U.S. territories.
National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters
Public insurance adjusters are experts on property loss adjustment who are retained by policyholders to assist in preparing, filing and adjusting insurance claims. NAPIA members across the United States have joined together for the purpose of professional education, certification and promotion of a code of professional conduct.
Photo Credit: Scott Graham