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A public adjuster is an insurance claims adjuster who can be hired by policyholders to assist them in the process of filing an insurance claim. These insurance industry professionals usually accept a percentage of the payout on the policy as their fee. Not every insurance claim merits the use of a public insurance adjuster, but if a claim appears to be complex or policyholders are afraid that there will be a dispute, it can help to get a public adjuster involved.
Unlike the company insurance adjuster, a public insurance adjuster protects the rights of the policyholder. Company adjusters are responsible for ensuring that their employers pay out the least amount of money possible, with the goal of saving money for the insurance company by avoiding payouts on claims which do not deserve payouts, and by making sure that claims are not overpaid. A public insurance adjuster has the same training and knowledge as a company adjuster, but he or she is concerned with getting the best possible settlement for the policyholder, not the insurance company.
When a public adjuster is hired, he or she usually inspects the insurance policy to get an idea of what is covered and to explore the coverage limits. Next, he or she assesses the situation which is necessitating a claim, such as a house fire. The public adjuster meticulously documents the claim and packages it for the insurance company. Because he or she knows what the insurance company's adjusters will be looking for, the claim can specifically address key issues which could be used as grounds for a dispute or denial of the claim.
In an ideal world, the public adjuster's work would be done at this point, with the insurance company responding with a reasonable payout. However, a public adjuster is often forced to negotiate with the insurance company to push the payout higher. Public adjusters can legally represent their clients in negotiations, bargaining to get the best deal. Once the claim is settled, the adjuster is also available to refile if additional damage and issues are identified.
Public adjusters can also provide advice about insurance coverage. After assisting clients with claims, they commonly make recommendations about the structure of the policy, such as upping coverage limits, so that the consumer will be more protected in the future. While using a public adjuster is by no means required, it can ensure that a claim moves along more quickly, allowing people to get a payout sooner than they would by working alone.
To find a public adjuster, the best resource is a trade organization of professional adjusters which can provide a list of members in good standing in the area where a client lives.