When do I need a public adjuster?
Great question. Let's start this off with an overview of what an adjuster is and does.
No offense to adjusters, but they're the people you never want to see. That's because they're the ones who are called in when there is a claim to be handled. Their job is to investigate the loss and figure out what is insured and how much the insurance company should pay (for related reading, see Insurance Industry Careers: What They Are and How to Get Them).
And therein lies the problem.
Adjusters must be licensed and uphold strict ethical standards in their dealings. Still, you could think of the adjuster working for the insurer as a conflict of interest. Because they're paid by the insurance company, they have an incentive to settle claims as quickly as possible and they might also be inclined to be a bit more conservative when deciding what is or isn't covered and when they're calculating how much the insured is eligible to receive.
To tip the balance back in your favor, you can opt to hire a public adjuster instead. They'll handle the paperwork, conduct an independent investigation, deal with negotiations, and generally advocate on behalf of you.
Now, it certainly sounds nice to have someone in your corner during these stressful procedures, but public adjusters don't work for free, and in most cases, you don't need one.
So, for your routine claims, you might be fine with the insurer's claims adjuster (but see How to File a Claim that Gets Paid Sooner for advice on filing a claim in your favor). But if you feel like your claim has been handled unfairly by the insurer or if your loss is very large and complex (this is usually the case for business interruption or legal liability claims), it might be worth paying the public adjuster's fee so you have someone fighting for your interests.
Public adjusters are most commonly at work on commercial insurance claims, since those are more likely to be large, complex, and time consuming. But when disputes arise, working with a public adjuster can make sense for personal policyholders as well.
More Q&As from our experts
- How is a public adjuster different than a claims adjuster?
- How is mortgage life insurance different than regular life insurance?
- Do hotels have insurance for their customers’ items?
Stay informed with Insuranceopedia!
The world of insurance can be complicated. Subscribe to the Insuranceopedia newsletter and stay in the know! Access expert content, industry term definitions and answers to your questions from knowledgeable insurance insiders. Arm yourself with what you need to know to keep your assets and your family safe.