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Why do home owners need a public adjuster?


In the near past, I attended a deposition where the insurance company's counsel questioned my client about his decision to hire a Public Adjuster.

The confrontation between my client was enlightening. He leaned towards the attorney and said his world had changed that day of the loss and the destruction of their home more than that he was concerned for the health and security of his family. My client knew he had to seek professional help because of the gravity of his loss and experience in dealing with his home insurance.

As time went on, more was learned about their loss, the sincerity and appreciation the client held for his insurance adjuster was apparent. The client had more questions about his property loss, and no one could answer them until he hired a public adjuster.

Yes, public adjusters are paid for their services, homeowners are usually surprised or opposed to paying for a licensed public adjuster to assist with their claim. Most public adjusters who support clients claims work off contingency fees, which mean, the homeowner's insurance is not paying hourly rates for Public Adjuster services nor paying for services to begin. When client’s insurance pays a Public Adjuster small percentage of the claim collected by the Public Adjuster or recovered, the Public Adjuster can start helping immediately and work rigorously to ensure the property claim gets paid, so the Public Adjuster can get paid.  If the Public Adjuster does not put forth the effort and willingness to close the case, the Public Adjuster will more than likely not be paid. If this happened frequently, the Public Adjuster business would falter.

A public adjuster should assess your losses and help you “get every penny you deserve,” from your insurance company, says Serafin Martinez, owner at Churchill Public Adjusters in Miami, Fla.

But don’t expect miracles.

“Understand the insurance company is not going to agree with everything you want just because you hired an adjuster,” Martinez says.

Homeowners should be aware that hiring a public adjuster after you’ve already started processing and negotiating your claim can slow the process.

“If we are in upfront, it’s not that big of a deal,” Martinez says. But usually, homeowners don’t contact the adjuster until they start to have problems with the adjuster who had been assigned to them by the insurance company. In those cases, hiring an adjuster might add another 30 to 60 days to the process because the public adjuster must revisit and renegotiate much of what’s been done with the previous adjuster, he says.

Sometimes the wait pays off. But there are no guarantees homeowners will get more money by hiring an adjuster than they would on their own.

A study conducted in Florida, which analyzed claims at one insurance company in 2008 and 2009, shows policyholders who hired public adjusters generally received higher settlements than those who didn’t hire public adjusters. According to the study, the typical settlement to those who had the help of a public adjuster was about $22,266, compared to $18,659.

But public adjusters come at a cost, usually about 10 percent of the amount you get from the insurance company.

partnered post • cc-licensed image by Mark from Beloit