When To Hire A Public Adjuster

Tallahassee Residential Fire

Following a major property loss, deciding when to engage a public adjuster to assist with the preparation, presentation, negotiation of a claim, is an important decision and can have a dramatic impact on the claims process and settlement results. There are generally two schools of thought on the issue:

Retaining A Claims Professional Immediately

The first option is to hire a claims professional immediately following a loss. A property owner should understand that the interests of the insurance company are not the same as theirs. A seasoned, experienced public adjuster can more effectively and efficiently guide the policyholder through the claims process if he or she is retained right after the loss occurs. Early involvement allows the public adjuster to participate in inspections with the insurance company adjuster giving them the opportunity to point out all damages and reach scope agreements quickly. This helps prevent multiple, time consuming re-inspections and often speculative (in the eyes of the insurance company), supplemental claims. Further, retaining professional representation early will help the policyholder avoid costly mistakes such as hiring contractors prematurely (assignment of benefits) or providing unnecessary or erroneous information that could negatively impact a claim and be very difficult, if not impossible, to correct later. Additionally, countless hours of time can be saved by allowing the public adjuster to handle all matters surrounding the claim from the start. Those who have prior experience with public adjusters or are referred to one by a friend or attorney, virtually always choose this option.

Retaining A Claims Professional After The Insurance Company Presents An Offer

The second option is to delay hiring a claims professional until the insurance company presents their view of the loss. This is a common course of action, especially with residential property owners who have never experienced a loss or are unaware that professional representation is available. Also, relentless pressure from overly aggressive contractors and public adjusters can often “turn off” policyholders causing them to pause. Insurance companies will also convince claimants they are “on your side” and therefore don’t need the services of a public adjuster. “You will be throwing away 10% of your claim” is a phrase often used by contractors and insurance company adjusters to discourage policyholders from engaging a public adjuster. If skepticism or pressure from others convinces the policyholder not to retain help immediately following a loss, they can wait for the insurance company to present an offer before taking the next step. When an offer is received, the public adjuster, usually at no-cost obligation, can inspect the loss, review the adjusters estimate, and provide an opinion as to whether the company fairly compensated the property owner for their damages. The public adjuster can then be hired on a “new money” contingency fee basis. Other than allowing the policyholder the opportunity to see the insurance company’s offer before engaging a public adjuster, there is no advantage to waiting. This is the least desirable option if the goal is to effectively and efficiently settle a claim for the maximum amount.

Choosing A Public Adjuster

Wading through all the “noise” in the aftermath of a loss can be intimidating. Whether a policyholder engages a professional claims consultant immediately, or pauses until the dust settles, a qualified public adjuster will work to ensure a prompt and fair settlement.

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