If your home has suffered damage, you may think that the insurance you have been paying for will take care of everything for you and you do not need to worry. Unfortunately, that is often not the case, and you may be looking for an adjuster to help with your claim. While both the independent and public adjusters can play big roles in your insurance claim, there are some big differences between the two that you need to know when you file a claim.
With “independent” in the title, you would think that they are just that, independent. Instead, they are representatives who act on behalf of the insurance companies. They are not direct employees of the insurance company, but they are hired through an independent adjusting firm; when an insurance company needs an adjuster, this is who they contact for it. Independent adjusters are trained to help the insurance company save money.
The independent adjusters are called independent because they are usually independent contractors, instead of salaried employees.
A public adjuster represents the public, and they are advocates for you who can advise you of your rights and help you navigate your insurance claim. They are often referred to as a private adjuster or a private loss adjuster. You can hire a public adjuster right away when you first file your claim, or after your initial insurance claim has been denied by your insurance company.
After facing damages to your home, you are likely exhausted, mentally and physically, so dealing with your insurance company is not something you have much energy for. So, when your insurance company offers you a settlement, you may not know that you are being offered much less than you should be, or where to go from there. A public adjuster will step in to deal with that headache on your behalf; they can evaluate damages and the costs to rebuild, track payments from your insurance company, and work with your insurance company to get your claim processed and for and much as you are legally entitled to based on your damages and policy.
Some in the insurance industry say that an insurance company often pays between 25 and 40 percent of what they should have paid on claims. Many people are not aware of this, and they accept the money their insurance company offers, even if it may not be enough to cover the damages in your claim. This is partially because the burden of proof is on you, and you may not realize what all that entails. This is where the public adjuster comes in. They can help you with the burden of proof and negotiating with your insurance company to help get you what you are owed.
Public adjusters are not paid unless they win you the money you deserve from your claim, so they are highly motivated to help you win your claim and get the maximum owed by your insurance company.
Sometimes after a large disaster, insurance companies will bring in independent adjusters from other states, where the costs may be significantly different than what they are for you. For example, following wildfires in California, out of state adjusters who are used to replacing a home for $200,000 were shocked to learn that it can cost $800,000 or more in southern California for a similar home.
After Hurricane Irma, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed an emergency declaration, which loosened regulations for the qualifications of an adjuster, allowing insurance companies to hire anyone. As a result, thousands of Floridians were still waiting for their money a year later, and even more had sued their insurance companies, partially because inexperienced independent adjusters delayed or botched the claims. A public adjuster can navigate these issues for you to make things run more smoothly.