Ten Tips for Choosing a Public Adjuster
- Experience and Credentials? Public Adjusters are required to be licensed by the state. Request their license number and verify via the state’s Department of Insurance website or by contacting the DOI directly. Also, don’t be afraid to ask about the adjuster’s background. How long have they been in this line of work? Here at FirstCall, many of our adjusters also have past experience as contractors, insurance agents, etc. that bring a great deal of expertise and a unique set of skills to the table.
- References? Ask for references and follow up by calling or emailing them about their experience. Review reference letters or testimonials as well.
- Website? Do your research. Most businesses have a website these days. A quick look can tell you exactly who works for the business, can provide testimonials, case studies and free education and resources. Also, be sure to check for online reviews or complaints from third party sites like Angie’s List, Yelp, and Google.
- Memberships? Be sure to check the company’s rating with the Better Business Bureau. Most legit public adjusters will also be members of NAPIA (National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters) or AAPIA (American Association of Public Insurance Adjusters). Verify their memberships through the organization’s website.
- Questions you should ask about their business: - How long have you been in business? - Are you licensed/bonded/insured? - Do you have experience on this type of claim or with my carrier? - Will you be handling my claim personally or is there a team? - Should I still communicate directly with the insurance company?
- Ask for an evaluation of your claim: - Discuss the details regarding fees and contract terms. - Do you fee on an ACV or RC basis? Have them explain the difference. (See article: ACV vs RCV) - Policy Review – How much in each bucket (Structure/ Personal Property/ Additional Living Expenses/ Business Interruption/ Loss of Rents/ Debris Removal/ Etc.)? - Does the fee amount apply to all coverages? - Are you Under-insured/Over-insured? - Services they will provide (Inventory/ Scope & Estimate/ EUO Assistance/ Etc.) - Do you see an opportunity for improvement in the claim?
- Don’t be rushed. Make sure you are comfortable with your choice and your adjuster/company. Are your personalities a good fit?
- Educate yourself. Know the difference between when to hire a public adjuster vs. a contractor or attorney. Research the Public Adjusting regulations and laws of your state.
- Communicate. Set expectations for communication.- Will you receive weekly updates? - Communicate by email or phone? - Do you have the phone numbers/ email addresses for everyone involved in your claim? - Will you be provided with copies of all estimates and correspondence with the insurance company?
- Understand your needs and motivations. Think about why you might need a public adjuster. What are your priorities and does the adjuster you want to hire understand and address those needs and priorities?
Money – Need more money for recovery? Public adjusters can increase your payout 25-75% or more—even after their fee.
Time and Convenience– Lead a busy life? Public adjusters understand that you need to focus less on keeping after the insurance company and more on your recovery, family, school, business or career. A public adjuster can save you a ton of time and labor. Public adjusters can organize your claim, streamline communications, and handle the minute details so you can focus on other things.
Expertise – Don’t know how to tell if the estimate is accurate? Public adjusting is a unique expertise. They know what to look for, what the insurance company adjusters often overlook, and what needs to be done in order to indemnify you for your loss. Did you know that in most states, public adjusters are required to have continuing education and pass an exam for licensure, whereas insurance company adjusters are not even required to take an exam and are only trained by the company for which they work?
Negotiating Power – Need more leverage? Experienced public adjusters are experts in their field, providing them with the ammunition they need to negotiate a higher settlement. They have also honed their negotiating skills and won’t back down until they get you what you deserve.