Imagine that you have just experienced a fire in your home causing extensive damage to the structure and your personal property. You have a homeowners policy that adequately covers your losses and you have notified your insurance agent that you wish to make a claim for damages. The agent, representing a large national property insurer, says that he will report the loss to the insurance company and you will soon be contacted by a company insurance adjuster. The agent then remarks that you may be contacted by a Public Adjuster who will offer to prepare your claim and represent your interests in the settlement with the insurer for a fee. Additionally, he comments that you should wait until the insurance company adjuster makes you an offer of settlement before you hire a Public Adjuster. If you are unhappy with the settlement offer you can always hire your own adjuster at that point to contest the offer.
Is this wise? Is this good advice intended to truly aid you in a time of crisis or is this a self-serving insurance company line of reasoning intended to influence you to delay or avoid retaining representation that will result in a significantly higher insurance settlement?
Delaying hiring a Public Insurance Adjuster to assist you in the handling of your claim is often a fatal error that can potentially cost you tens of thousands of dollars on your settlement. What you say to the company adjuster and how you prepare your claim materially affects the settlement. A simple mis-statement can cost you money that may never be recovered. Think of it this way. If you were subject to an arrest would you wait until after you appeared in court to hire an attorney to represent you? If you were subject to an IRS audit would you wait until the audit was complete before you retained a CPA or tax attorney?
Documentation of the loss adjustment process is critical to preserve the record of your interaction with the company adjuster. What is said today between you and the adjuster may be significantly different than what is recalled by the parties six months from now. A Public Adjuster is adept at documenting the process every step of the way to preserve the record and protect your interests.
Additionally, one of the first responsibilities a company adjuster must fulfill on behalf of his employer is to estimate a “loss reserve”. A “loss reserve” is the amount of money, in the professional opinion of the adjuster, that he or she believes should be paid in the settlement of your claim. This reserve amount is reported to his superiors and the insurer therein reserves adequate funds for the eventual payment of your claim.
The adjuster in setting the reserve has put his professional opinion on record. Very few adjusters will deviate from their initial reserve in the payment of your claim. If the reserve is set too low it is unlikely that you will ever be paid a true representative recovery on you claim. A public Adjuster is in a unique position, after handling thousands of claims just like yours, to help guide the parties in setting an accurate reserve and preserving your right to a representative and fair settlement.
If you are considering hiring a Public Insurance Adjuster to assist you in preparing, presenting and adjusting you property claim, do so as soon as possible following the loss to preserve your rights to a fair, equitable and adequate recovery.