Adjusters are hired to handle insurance claims, but not all adjusters do the same type of work. Different types of adjusters perform their job either on behalf of the insurance company or the insurance policy holder. It is important to know which type of adjuster performs which function, so you understand how they fit into the claims process. Knowing the difference between types of adjusters helps you to know who is doing what regarding your claim.
Company or Staff Adjuster
A company adjuster, also called staff adjuster, is a full-time, salaried employee for an insurance company. Their job is to investigate, evaluate, and settle a claim. There are two types of staff adjusters: desk adjusters and field adjusters.
Desk adjusters literally sit at a desk somewhere in the world and process claims. Let’s say a portion of your fence was knocked down due to a large storm. You would call your insurance company to file a claim. They would have you speak to a desk adjuster who would ask you several questions to determine the damage. They may also request that you send photos of the damaged portion of the fence. Then the desk adjuster would evaluate the claim and do their best to handle it from the inside.
If a claim comes through a desk adjuster that is too large or too confusing for a desk adjuster to determine the extent of the damage, a field adjuster is called out. Field adjusters go out to a site (in the field) and look at the damage. Let’s say that the large storm that knocked down part of your fence also had wind driven rain that caused flooring damage. The flooring damage went from the living room window, down a hallway, into an office area, and part of a bedroom. A desk adjuster would have a hard time figuring out the extent of the damage and needed repairs over the phone, so the desk adjuster would pass the claim off to a field adjuster.
Most staff adjusters have a consistent schedule and work in a specific geographic location rather than traveling a lot. However, some staff do travel quite a bit depending upon their role in the company.
Independent adjusters are hired on a contract basis by an insurance company. They often work for an independent adjusting firm and are called in when reinforcements are needed. Independent adjusters are hired to process claims more quickly, especially during catastrophic events such as hurricanes or hail storms. An independent insurance adjuster is only allowed to work for the insurance company and never represents the homeowner.
Public Adjusters can either freelance or work for a public adjusting firm. Unlike staff or independent adjusters who work for the insurance company, they work specifically for the insurance policy holder. Both independent and Public Adjusters work on a contract basis.
As the policy holder, when you file a claim with your insurance company, the insurance company will assign you a staff or independent adjuster to work your claim. The staff or independent adjuster will evaluate the damage through various means and then determine what is and is not covered under your specific policy. Remember that they work on behalf of the insurance company. A Public Adjuster will work solely on your behalf to make sure you get top dollar on your claim.
A Public Adjuster will also inspect reports, examine damaged property, and extensively review the specific language in your policy. Having someone on your side, working to get you all that you deserve is essential for your claim. Because they work on behalf of the policy holder, Public Adjusters are paid through a commission. Typically, they will collect a percentage of the final settlement amount which is determined before they begin a contract as their payment. In many states, Public Adjusters are also required to be licensed.
Be careful, because often people will interchange the term independent for public when talking about an adjuster. That’s another reason why it is very important to know the role of your adjuster!