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What Is a Public Adjuster ?

A public adjuster is licensed by the state insurance department to be an advocate for the policyholder. All homeowners and business owners, if they so choose, may retain the services of a public adjuster to negotiate with their insurance company on their behalf. The public adjuster will evaluate the damage to the home or business and will prepare their own detailed repair estimate in a special format accepted by the insurance industry. Then the insurance company is notified that the public adjuster will be handling the insurance claim on behalf of the insured. An appointment is set for the public adjuster to meet with the claim adjuster assigned by the insurance company. The public adjuster walks through the home or business and presents the damage to the insurance adjuster, explaining what happened, and what needs to be done in order to return the property to pre-loss condition. Most of the time, the insurance company will work from the public adjuster’s estimate and then provide their own estimate as an acceptance or counter offer. Once the insurance estimate is received, the public adjuster will continue to negotiate with the insurance adjuster if there are still items that need to be addressed. Many times the public adjuster will recover more than one payment for the insured. If there is a question of coverage, the public adjuster will discuss how the damages are covered by the policy.

Public adjusters are able to assist with property damage to a home, building, and also the personal property and furnishings contained inside the structure. If there is a loss to personal property, the public adjuster will prepare a detailed inventory in a format accepted by the insurance company to include a detailed description and replacement cost of each item being claimed. For businesses, the public adjuster can also assist in negotiating the loss of business income.

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What Does an Independent Claims?

An independent claims adjuster is either self-employed, or works for an independent claims adjusting company. Independent adjusters do not work directly for any insurance company in particular, but they are hired by insurance companies to negotiate and adjust claims on their behalf. Independent adjusters are advocates for the insurance company, not for the insured. A couple states, such as Florida and Texas, have licensing courses for independent adjusters, however most states do not require a license for independent adjusters or insurance adjusters. Insurance companies usually hire independent adjusters when they have an overflow of claims due to a widespread weather event and they do not have enough of their own staff adjusters to handle the volume of claims coming in at a rapid pace.

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How Much Do Public Adjusters Charge?

Public adjusters are paid on a contingency fee basis. This means that they do not charge any money up front, and they only get paid if and when a settlement check is received from the insurance company. If the claim is denied and the insurance company doesn’t issue a payment, the policyholder does not owe the public adjuster any money. The public adjuster’s fee will be a percentage of the amount they are involved in recovering, usually based upon the size of the claim. Once the insurance check is received, the public adjuster may then collect their fee, so the customer doesn’t have to spend any money out of pocket. Larger catastrophic or business losses can range anywhere from 5 to 10 percent, whereas small to medium sized losses can range from 15 to 30 percent. The amount of the percentage fee may also be based upon whether or not the insurance company already issued a payment before the public adjuster became involved. The complexity of the claim usually increases when the public adjuster must convince the insurance company that they did not pay the claim properly the first time. If the customer has already received an insurance payment before deciding to hire the public adjuster, the public adjuster will only collect a fee on monies they were responsible for covering. The public adjuster will not be owed a fee on any money the customer received before hiring the public adjuster.

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