How to Choose a Public Insurance Adjuster

Before your home insurance policy will cover damages, they will often send out an insurance adjuster to assess the damage. Often, the insurance company will supply an adjuster but there may be some instances where you need to choose your own public insurance adjuster.
By Jessica Moore
Updated Dec 17, 2020
public insurance adjuster
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Your homeowners insurance policy is there to protect you financially in the event of an incident such as a fire, severe storm, or burglary. Before you can collect from your policy, however, you first need to file a claim with your insurance company. You also need to have the damage surveyed by an insurance adjuster. 

In many cases, insurance companies send their own adjuster to your property to determine the extent of the damage and what it’s worth. These adjusters work on behalf of the insurance company, though. As such, they’re looking out for the best interest of the insurance provider. A public insurance adjuster is an invaluable asset to ensure that you get the full amount you’re entitled to under your policy. 

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What Is a Public Insurance Adjuster?

During the claims process, you’re likely going to be working with an insurance adjuster. In most cases, your insurance company sends someone to your home to assess the extent of the damage and determine how much the company needs to pay. Your insurance provider will likely send either a company adjuster or an independent adjuster. You may also choose to hire a public insurance adjuster.

A public insurance adjuster is a professional who surveys the damage to your property and determines how much it’s worth. Where a company and independent insurance adjuster works for the insurance company, a public adjuster works for you. They understand how insurance policies work, how to file claims, and how to adjust them as necessary. Their assistance helps you to avoid any potential issues and ensures that you get everything you’re entitled to based on your specific policy. 

Do You Need a Public Insurance Adjuster?

A public adjuster can be an invaluable asset for filing a homeowners insurance claim. They’re beneficial in many ways, but sometimes you may be able to work entirely with your insurance company without issue. 

Working with Your Insurance Company

Public insurance adjusters aren’t always necessary. You may be able to complete the entire claims process through your insurance company. It’s in their best interest to settle your claim fairly. In many cases, your claims representative should be able to answer your questions about and provide clarification for anything you might not understand. In many cases, your claims representative should be able to answer your questions about what your policy covers and provide clarification for anything you might not understand. 

If you have concerns over how your provider is handling your claim, you may choose to speak with a supervisor at the company. If you’re still unsatisfied, you may decide to hire a public insurance adjuster.

Working with a Public Insurance Adjuster

While many insurance companies try to handle claims fairly, this isn’t always the case. A public adjuster works on your behalf to make sure you get the full value of the damage to your home, as outlined by your policy. Here are a few situations where you may decide to hire one.

You Feel Your Company’s Insurance Adjuster Wasn’t Fair

One such reason to hire a public adjuster is that you feel as though your company’s insurance adjuster didn’t properly assess your claim. You may not agree with the amount they assigned to the damages or that they left some damages off, and your insurance company isn’t settling the dispute. A public insurance adjuster can provide you with a second opinion. Following their evaluation of your property, they can then try to help you get a fairer settlement. 

You Don’t Understand Your Policy

You may choose to hire a public adjuster because you don’t understand your insurance policy. While you can call your company for clarification, you may or may not get what you need. If you’re still unclear, a public adjuster can help you to make sense of everything. 

You Want to Make Sure Your Estimate Is Correct

A public insurance adjuster can also help you to navigate the claims process. Even if you’re certain of the total cost of your damages, the adjuster can provide peace of mind. You might find that your initial estimate is lower than what the adjuster determines or that you forget to add certain damages to the total cost. With the assistance of a public adjuster, you can submit an accurate, detailed claim, which will help to ensure that you get the full value. 

You’re Not Sure If You Should File a Claim

Sometimes, you may want to hire a public insurance adjuster to determine whether or not to file a claim, which can save you from having a mark on your insurance record. Let’s say you have a small amount of damage to your home following a burglary. Even if you only contact your insurance company but don’t move forward with seeking compensation, the company still marks it as a claim. While this might not seem like a big deal, it can put you in a higher risk category. Too many claims can increase your insurance premium or make it harder to get a good deal on homeowner’s insurance if you decide to move. 

A public adjuster can help you to decide whether or not your damages are worth filing a claim, which can save you trouble (and money) down the line. Many adjusters also visit your property and assess the damage for free, which means that you have very little to lose by calling one. 

Tips for Choosing a Public Insurance Adjuster

Once you’ve decided you want to hire a public insurance adjuster, it’s time to find one. Here are a few tips to help you find one:

Read Reviews 

One of the first places to start when searching for a public adjuster is the internet. There, you’ll be able to find reviews for different ones. Take some time to sift through both positive and negative reviews to help you identify any common praises and complaints. 

Browse Their Website

Another great place to start is by checking a public insurance adjuster’s website. You should find some general information about the adjuster, their experience and expertise, and what areas they service. You may also find out how long they’ve been in business and if they’re a member of any groups such as The National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters or the United Policyholders of America. If you don’t find this information on the website, don’t hesitate to ask when you speak to them directly. 

Ask for References

Don’t hesitate to ask a public insurance adjuster for references, and don’t hesitate to call them. Speaking with previous customers can shed help you understand what to expect if you hire that adjuster. If the adjuster is hesitant to share references (or doesn’t have any), you may want to look elsewhere. 

Find Out Their Licensing Status

Most, but not all, states require public insurance adjusters to be licensed. While some states might not require licensing, many professional adjusters still undergo the process. Ask to see their license or contact your state’s insurance department to ensure they’re in good standing. 

Speak to More Than One

There’s likely more than one public insurance adjuster in your area. Don’t settle for the first one you find, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Find out what the adjuster’s process is and what their terms of communication are. Make sure that you feel completely comfortable with someone before you decide to hire them. If something feels off, they might not be the right fit for you.

Find Out Who’s Going to Handle Your Claim

In some cases, you may work with one public insurance adjuster throughout the entire claims process. If you contact a firm, however, you may find that they send one person to assess the damage and another to manage the claim. Typically, firms do this to ensure that you have someone who’s an expert in the particular type of claim you’re filing. 

Be Wary of Anyone Who Reaches Out to You

When you need a public insurance adjuster, you’ll typically be the one to make the call. Sometimes, however, you might receive a call from someone claiming ot be an adjuster who wants to help you file a claim. In most states, it’s illegal for a public adjuster to reach out to you within so many days after a storm or during a disaster. Should you be contacted by someone, you should question them to ensure that they are a legitimate adjuster. Again, if you have any doubts, contact your state’s insurance department for more information. 

How Much Do Public Insurance Adjusters Cost?

In general, most public insurance adjusters don’t charge anything upfront. They come to your home to assess the damage and help you file the claim. After you get paid from your insurance company, they take a percentage of the settlement. 

The exact fees vary from one adjuster to the next, and many states place a cap on how much they can charge. For instance, the state of Florida caps fees at 20%, while New York has a cap of 12.5%. In most cases, the exact percentage depends on the value of your claim. Higher claims typically have lower percentages, while smaller claims have higher ones. Some adjusters may also cap their fees to a set dollar amount per claim. 

Getting the Most from Your Claim

While public insurance adjusters aren’t always necessary, they can be incredibly helpful for filing a claim, navigating the process, and ensuring that you get the full value of the damage to your property. Having an adjuster that’s on your side can help to make the process easier and much less stressful. 

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