Do I need a public adjuster?

Three types of adjusters:

  • Company staff adjusters: Insurers employ company staff adjusters to assess, evaluate, and pay claims.
  • Independent adjusters: Independent adjusters are contract workers hired by the insurance company to settle claims.
  • Public adjusters: A public adjuster works on behalf of the policyholder to settle a claim.

Filing a claim on your insurance policy initiates the loss settlement process. The insurer assigns a file number and staff or independent adjuster to the case. This individual verifies coverage, investigates the loss, assesses damages, estimates the cost to rebuild or repair, makes a settlement offer, and closes the claim with the policyholder.

Policyholders that sign on with a public adjuster authorize another person to settle the claim on their behalf. The public adjuster performs services similar to staff and independent adjusters. He may also inventory destroyed property, meet with insurance company adjusters, inspectors, and contractors, and negotiate a settlement offer. Public adjusters tend to focus on claims involving major dwelling or commercial losses.

The price to hire a public adjuster is outlined in a contract between the individual and the public adjusting firm. Payment often ranges from 5% to 15% of the claim settlement. Review contract terms and ask questions before signing on the dotted line. For example, verify the public adjuster is licensed to work in Illinois. Find out exactly who will handle your claim, and check references. Also, look into costs for terminating the contract early.

The magnitude and circumstances of the loss, specifics of your situation, personal preferences, and fees are factors to consider when hiring a public adjuster. Do not rush into making a decision or swayed by an aggressive sales pitch.