A public adjuster is a professional claims handler claims adjuster who advocates for the policyholder in appraising and negotiating a claimant's insurance claim. Public adjusters are licensed by state departments of insurance are the only type of claims adjuster that can legally represent the rights of an insured during an insurance claim process.
The public adjuster's main responsibilities are to:
- Evaluate existing insurance policies in order to determine what coverage may be applicable to a claim
- Research, detail, and substantiate damage to buildings and contents and any additional expenses
- Protection from omissions by Insurer
- Determine values for settling covered damages
- Prepare, document and support the claim on behalf of the insured
- Negotiate a settlement with the insurance company on behalf of an insured
- Re-open a claim and negotiate for more money if a discrepancy is found after the claim has been settled
Typically a policyholder hires a public adjuster to document and expedite their claims, obtain a more satisfactory claim recovery more quickly, completely restore their residence or business operations, and insulate themselves from the stress of engaging in an adversarial role against the insurer. Policy holders who are not properly indemnified by their insurance carriers may be left with little choice, but to hire professional assistance to recover the claim payment to which they are entitled.
When should a Public Adjuster be hired? The most benefit is likely to be realized if they are engaged immediately in case of a loss. Always before the insurance company receives notice of a loss, an adjuster representing the insurance company will visit the policyholder to gather facts about: how the loss occurred, the magnitude of the loss, and the possibility of subrogation. Incorrect, incomplete or inadequately expressed answers to the adjuster's questions may reduce the amount that can be claimed. A public adjuster engaged early in the process, before the fact-finding stage, will have more opportunity to help the policyholder receive a fair settlement for all losses legitimately covered under the insurance policy.