Your home has been damaged and now you’re left dealing with the aftermath. One of your first phone calls will likely be to your insurance agent to start the claim’s process for your loss. Once that process is in motion you will likely be assigned an adjuster who will visit your home to assess the damage. When that time comes, you want to feel confident knowing your insurance company will give you a fair and honest claim settlement.
But is dealing with an insurance agency’s adjuster the safest bet? Are you worried about all the paperwork, legalities, and negotiation that may be involved in the claims process? Are there benefits to hiring a public adjuster versus dealing with an adjuster assigned through your insurance? Dealing with insurance claims can feel like a complicated process so we will offer some insight and tips to help you navigate some of those tough decisions.
Types of Adjusters:
- A Company adjuster is employed by the insurance carrier. Once a claim is made by a policyholder then an adjuster is assigned to evaluate.
- Independent adjusters also work for insurance companies but are typically only hired on an as-needed basis. They are independent contractors hired by insurance companies when they are having a surge of ongoing claims where they need extra support.
- Public adjusters work for the policyholder. They are an independent insurance adjuster hired by a policyholder filing a claim. They typically charge a percentage fee from a claim settlement.
What to Expect from Your Insurance Company:
- Insurance companies work hard in adjusting claims and there are many fair and experienced adjusters working for those companies. It is important to note that in insurance things are very regulated and it is in a company’s best interest to handle claims fairly. Your policy contract will clearly outline the reasons things are covered or denied.
- Knowing what is in your policy and being sure you have the coverage you need is crucial. The more you are informed, the easier it will be to work through your claim. When it does come time to work with your insurance company, you should always try to communicate with your agent for clarification and support.
- Your insurance representative should be there for you if there are ever questions or concerns. However, if there are any additional problems you can always ask to speak to a supervisor or head of department. That may help reach a resolution. Your State Insurance Commissioner’s Office can also be contacted for additional concerns.
What to do When There are Disagreements:
- There may be times where there are disagreements about a settlement amount. In that case, it is best to contact your insurance agent or the insurance agency’s claim department manager.
- Be prepared with figures to substantiate your claim for more money. If a settlement is still not negotiated then, there are typically two approaches applied. Your policy includes your right to have an independent appraisal of the loss. If an insurance company uses this procedure, then you and the company will each hire independent appraisers to assess the case. The appraisers will also choose a mediator. This group of two to three people will decide the settlement and all decisions will be binding. The costs for the appraisers are handled by each party and the other costs are shared.
- Another way some companies handle disputes is through arbitration. In this case, a neutral arbitrator listens to arguments from both sides and then makes a final decision that is binding. It is important to note that most settlements do not reach these stages.
Common Reasons for Hiring a Public Adjuster:
- Policyholders do have options when it comes to their representation for a claim. There are several reasons someone might choose to hire their own public insurance adjuster. These include:
-Concerns over communication with a company insurance adjuster
-Busy lives & concerns over time constraints and the stress of dealing with a claim
-Disagreements with an insurance company’s settlement or handling of the claim
It is difficult to say one way or another what someone should do when dealing with insurance adjusters. What is more important is that you do what you can to prepare for when that time might come. Get to know your insurance policy and understand what is covered and what is not covered. Be sure you have the proper amount of insurance coverage for your home. Do what you can to prevent having to file a claim in the first place. Preparation can go a long way. If you do have the misfortune of having to file a claim, it is helpful to know that you do have options when it comes to insurance adjusters.
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