What Is a Public Adjuster and When Do You Need One?
When filing an insurance claim for your commercial property, you would hope that the process would be smooth and simple. After all, isn’t your insurance company supposed to have your back when you need them too?
Unfortunately, that’s not usually the case. Insurance companies are ultimately looking out for their best interest, and that can mean your commercial insurance claim could be reduced, delayed or, at worst, denied. When you need a fair claims process, a public adjuster should be the first person you contact.
Now, you may be asking, what is a public adjuster? We’re here to answer all of your questions on the topic to ensure you’re prepared if you ever need to make an insurance claim.
What is a public adjuster?
In the world of claims adjustment, there are typically two types of personnel you will encounter: Public adjusters and insurance adjusters (also known as an independent adjuster). Insurance adjusters are those hired and typically trained by the insurer. As the job description in the Bureau of Labor Statistics highlights, these individuals are tasked with inspecting property on which claims have been made (including homes, apartment buildings and commercial buildings) to make recommendations on compensation.
Public adjusters do the same core functions, however they work on behalf of the insured, not the insurance company. As the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters explained, these adjusters are employed exclusively by a claimant who has experienced an insured loss and needs assistance preparing, filing or adjusting their claim. They will arrive and inspect your losses, analyze property damages and come to their own conclusion about replacement costs. Their expert insurance knowledge and commitment to their clients ensure the policyholder receives the most equitable, fair and fast settlement possible.
And because public adjusters are employed by their client, they only get paid when the insured does. They typically work on a contingency basis throughout the claims process, meaning they only take a percentage of the settlement when it’s complete. Some public adjusting groups even front the expert assessment needed to document damages depending on their client’s situation.
Essentially, a public adjuster does many things an insurance professional does not, but most importantly, they work to fully indemnify or maximize your final restitution. An independent insurance adjuster, on the other hand, is working to save their company money.
When you need a public adjuster
Because part of a public adjuster’s role is to assist a client throughout the entire claims process, any person considering filing a property insurance claim should think about hiring one. Wading through the legal jargon and paperwork of filing a claim can overwhelm anyone, no matter how organized or prepared they may be. As experts in all things insurance, including legal terminology, the dollar value of property losses and the documentation needed, a public adjuster can help you file a claim from start to finish.
They will come to assess your damaged residential or commercial property and estimate the losses fairly. They will not leave out costs or try to undervalue the damage like an insurance adjuster may do. You may need the services of a public adjuster if your property has been damaged by:
- Theft and vandalism
- Collapse or sinkhole
- Cast iron pipes
A public adjuster knows how to accurately calculate damages caused by these events and help you submit a complete and detailed claim to ensure you receive the maximum settlement amount.
What to look for in a public claims adjuster
While you can’t go wrong with hiring a public adjuster to help with your insurance claim, it’s still important to take care when choosing who to hire. First and foremost, many states require public adjusters to obtain an adjuster license to practice. The job listing site Indeed explained that some states make adjusters complete a pre-licensing course, receive their license, pay a surety bond and then maintain their status through continuing education credits and renewals. You should always review your state’s requirements and the qualifications of your public adjuster to ensure they align.
Then, it’s important to choose an adjuster who specializes in your property loss. For instance, if your automobile was damaged you would need a public adjuster with the knowledge of car insurance claims that may differ from residential or commercial property. Even for property damage, you want to ensure your adjuster has knowledge of your specific building. For instance, you could need to file a commercial claims for any of the following buildings:
- Condo or apartment buildings
- High rises
- Public buildings
All of these buildings differ from residential housing because claims are often much more extensive. Furthermore, each property has unique features, equipment and insurance coverage that a public adjuster will need to have knowledge about to help a client with their claim. Don’t hesitate to ask a public adjuster what their experience is with your unique commercial insurance claim to ensure they can help you.
When you have been affected by storm damage to a commercial building, fire damage in a condo complex or anything in-between, the public adjusters at Stone Claims Group are here to help. Headquartered in Florida and offering services in over 100 cities, our licensed public adjusters that specialize in commercial building insurance claims know that these are unique from any other settlements in the industry. Their years of experience and knowledge of a range of building types means they are ready to handle your claim process for destruction caused by anything from high winds to water damage and vandalism. Contact us today to learn more about what an experienced public adjuster can do to maximize your next commercial building insurance claim.
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