No one wants to file an insurance claim. Everyone has heard at least one horror story of how someone paid into an insurance policy for years, only to walk away with hardly anything when they really needed it after a disaster.
In the aftermath of a storm or a fire, the last thing anyone wants to think about is all of the paperwork involved in filing a claim. Because the language in insurance policies can be difficult to decipher, and insurance companies want to settle for as little as possible, it can be helpful to have someone at the table to speak for the policyholder. When a homeowner or business owner needs to recover from the loss of a home or a business, they often hire a Public Adjuster, but what exactly does that mean?
What is a Public Adjuster?
A Public Adjuster acts on behalf of the policyholder filing the claim with their insurance provider, and they are paid as a percentage of the final settlement.
There are, essentially, three different types of claims adjusters: Company adjusters, Independent adjusters, and Public Adjusters. The Company adjuster will work directly with the insurance companies to handle claims regarding the policyholders. Independent adjusters also work for the insurance company, but they are contractors and not employees. Public Adjusters, by contrast, are hired by policyholders to act on behalf of their interests while the claim is being processed.
The Public Adjuster will assist in preparing the paperwork the insurance company will need to resolve the claim, including forms and photographs, make estimates of the losses and additional expenses, and may conduct their own investigation into the circumstances of the loss.
Because Public Adjusters are paid as a percentage of the final settlement, it is important to make sure that any calculations of the cost of repairs are factored into the amount the company must payout, so there is enough money after the Public Adjuster is paid their fee for acting as an advocate.
How to Choose a Public Adjuster?
It can be tempting in the wake of a loss to use the first Public Adjuster that comes up. But, there are unscrupulous people who will try to take advantage of people during that tumultuous time. Some key things to consider when choosing a Public Adjuster:
1. Licensing: Public Adjusters usually need to be licensed in the state of the loss. Ask to see the license number of the public adjuster you are considering if it is not published on their website.
2. Interview: Talk to the person you are considering giving the responsibility of acting on your behalf. You want someone you feel comfortable with, and if there is something that feels off, it may be a sign to continue shopping around.
3. Due Diligence: Look into the Public Adjuster you plan to hire and read the reviews or recommendations on their website. Ask if they have assistants or consultants they work with, such as engineers or architects who can help them make estimates of damages.
Red Flags to Consider
1. Asking for money in advance: It is a rule of a number of business relationships not to pay a deposit or a fee upfront, but that is especially true in the case of Public Adjusters. They get paid when you get paid, as a portion of the final settlement.
2. Promising money in advance: The other side of the pitfall of an adjuster asking for money upfront is if they tell you how much you can expect to receive, particularly if they have not yet had a chance to review your policy or the details of your loss. Every insurance claim is different, and no matter how long they have been in the business, they will need to look at the factors involved before they can make any estimates.
3. Soliciting your business: While not always a sign of something nefarious, if a Public Adjuster comes to your door after a natural disaster or a fire, they may not have your best interests at heart and may try to capitalize on your situation. Furthermore, when checking the license of the Public Adjuster, find out when they were licensed and if there were any natural disasters around that time. Sometimes regulations are relaxed in the aftermath of a catastrophe, and people get into the market who otherwise would not pass the required exams.
Shop around for a Public Adjuster with whom you will be comfortable. Be sure to walk away from anyone who uses high-pressure tactics to make you sign a contract or engages in other behavior such as encouraging you to falsify records, pushes you toward certain people or organizations for repairs, or asks you for your banking or other personal information.
Ultimately, it is in the Public Adjuster’s best interest to get you the greatest return, because they are paid when you are, and the more your insurance company is willing to settle with you, the more the adjuster is paid. If anyone is asking for money upfront or trying to refer you to repairmen who will give them a kickback, they are not the sort of Public Adjuster you want to have on your side, because they are looking out for themselves and not looking out for you.
Consider Continental Public Adjusters to Get the Help You Need
Continental Public Adjusters is proud to serve the entire state of Florida in handling property claims, and they have the experience to help you get the most out of your policy. If you have a new property claim, or even worse if your claim is denied, delayed, or underpaid, you need an experienced public adjuster.
Continental Public Adjusters will do five key things for you:
1. Advocate: Our sole responsibility is to make sure you receive the maximum recovery for your loss.
2. Review: A comprehensive investigation helps us understand each specific type of loss. With our experts and consultants, we begin to determine the overall value of your property loss.
3. Estimate: Using the latest cost estimating software to prepare supporting documentation and provide it to your carrier.
4. Adjust: We will adjust your claim and negotiate with your insurance company adjuster to reach a settlement meeting your approval, in your best interest.
5. Maximize: We can foresee issues and obstacles in the claims process with the experience that comes from settling thousands of claims and will work to reach your maximum benefit.
Start with a free consultation with one of our team members to learn about your options. Continental Public Adjusters, Inc. has 38 years of experience successfully settling thousands of claims related to both personal and commercial property in the state of Florida.