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What Does an Insurance Adjuster Do, and Are They Worth the Cost?

July 17, 2020

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If you’ve suffered a catastrophic loss, someone might suggest you hire an insurance adjuster rather than simply accepting a settlement offer from your insurance agency. For someone who has never worked with a public adjuster, you might wonder what they do and if they’re worth the cost!

An insurance adjuster investigates insurance claims and negotiates the highest payout possible from an insurance company. The adjuster might interview witnesses to an event, inspect damaged property, and even review medical records as needed.

While an insurance claims adjuster might not be needed for every property damage case, they provide an invaluable service in cases of major disasters and losses. While it’s hoped that no one goes through such an event, it’s also helpful to know more about what an insurance adjuster does so you know when to hire one!

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You might also consider some additional tips on what to do if your property suffers storm damage, vandalism, or a fire, or if you’ve had valuable property stolen. These tips will ensure you do everything possible to protect your claim and even reduce stress throughout the cleanup, restoration, and insurance claims process.

What Does an Insurance Adjuster Do?

To better understand the role of a public adjuster, keep in mind that he or she works for you, not for the insurance agency or anyone else. Very often an insurance adjuster is paid a percentage of the claim they secure for you, which means they work hard to get you every dollar possible after a catastrophic loss or severe property damage!

  • A public adjuster investigates an accident, property damage, vandalism, and the like. They might take pictures of damaged property, review bids and quotes for cleanup and repairs, review medical records, and even interview firsthand witnesses.
  • An insurance claims adjuster also researches the value of damaged property; this might include looking at home values in your neighborhood or checking the resale value of a damaged car, appraisals for artwork and other items, and so on.
  • Your adjuster also notes expected medical costs for injuries, such as slip and fall accidents or dog bites, and for illnesses, such as those caused by an unsafe workplace. He or she will take into account both immediate and potential long-term costs, including physical therapy, medications, future testing, and so on.
  • Insurance adjusters also note your expected wage loss or loss of earnings potential due to illness or injury, or loss of business due to theft, vandalism, or damage to a commercial property.
  • Your adjuster also takes into account payments you might receive from companies other than a specific insurance carrier; for example, if you’ll be eligible for public assistance or unemployment benefits.
  • An insurance adjuster will also review your insurance policy or the policy held by the company where you suffered an injury or accident, so they have a thorough understanding of those policy details. This includes what damage is covered, maximum payouts offered, any specific damages excluded by the policy, and so on.
  • If you have not yet filed a claim with your insurance agency, your adjuster can help in that process. He or she will assist in filling out paperwork and ensure you have all supporting documentation.
  • If you’ve been offered a settlement by your insurance agency, your adjuster will review that offer; if they feel it’s too low, he or she will then typically begin negotiating with the agency for a higher payout.

What an Insurance Adjuster Does Not Do

Unless a claims adjuster also has a law license, note that he or she cannot give legal advice or represent you in court! In some cases, there might be question over what is called an issue of coverage, meaning whether or not an insurance policy covers certain losses or damages in the first place.

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When an issue of coverage arises, a legal claim might need to be filed. The courts then decide if an insurance policy does or does not cover that particular damage or loss. If the courts decide that certain losses or damages are not covered under that policy, there is little or nothing the claims adjuster can do at that point.

An insurance adjuster also can’t tell you the best way to restore your property; he or she is not in the business of recommending fire damage cleanup methods or water removal companies, for example. It’s also not their job to recommend certain insurance agencies or companies! It’s best to speak with an insurance attorney if you’re looking for certain coverage or want to know the best policies for protecting your home, business, and other property.

Are Insurance Adjusters Worth the Cost?

First note that a claims adjuster typically works for a small percentage of the amount of your payout so there are usually no out-of-pocket expenses for you to hire one. Because they receive a portion of your compensation, it’s then in their best interest to negotiate as skillfully as possible on your behalf, working to get the maximum payout possible.

When considering if the cost of an insurance adjuster is worth it, note that an insurance company is not in the business of paying out claims; they’re in the business of making money! This doesn’t mean that every agent will try to “lowball” your compensation but they also aren’t likely to offer you the maximum amount available under your policy as well. Many agents know that policyholders are often willing to take the first offer they receive simply because they want that payout as quickly as possible, and also might not know the real value of their claim.

insurance adjuster

An insurance adjuster cost is also worth the amount of stress and hassle they typically save policyholders. Trying to file an insurance claim and negotiate with an agent is difficult enough under any circumstances; if you’ve been through an accident or suffered severe property damage, those circumstances only add to your stress! Relying on an insurance adjuster to help with your initial claim and then having them negotiate with an agent can free you up to concentrate on healing from an accident or restoring your property as needed. This alone makes the cost of an insurance adjuster well worth it.

What to Do When You’ve Suffered Storm Damage or Other Property Loss

If you’ve suffered storm damage, a fire or flood, vandalism, theft, or other losses, your health and safety are of first concern! Never approach a damaged area of your home without ensuring there is no risk of electrical shock or other injuries, and never stand under or anywhere near a collapsed roof, crumbling walls, cracked windows, and the like.

Once you are safe, your first step should be to notify your insurance agent; delays in notification can sometimes be used to deny claims! Even leaving them a voice mail message quickly describing the incident can ensure he or she doesn’t accuse you of any delay in reporting.

It’s also vital that a property owner document damages and losses as much as possible. Take as many pictures as you can of all your damaged property; this includes items inside a home affected by a flood or fire, trees that have been downed by a storm, and the like. If your commercial building has been vandalized, check for damage to fences and other points of entry, alarms, cameras, and so on, and ensure you document that as well!

While you might be eager to get your life back to normal, use caution about trying to restore or repair damage yourself before your insurance adjuster arrives. He or she will also want to document all that damage as well so they can evaluate your losses properly.

Note, too, that repairing and restoring property is often more difficult and even downright dangerous than you might realize. A sagging roof might collapse without warning, soot and ash from a fire might become airborne and present health hazards, and floodwaters bring hazardous contaminants with them. Save your storm damage, fire repairs, water removal, and other cleanup efforts for a professional restoration company instead.

Related Questions

Can an insurance adjuster get you a faster payout?

An insurance adjuster’s job is to negotiate your potential payout skillfully, so they do need to research your policy and damages suffered properly. However, relying on the assistance of an adjuster to file your claim can ensure you don’t overlook needed documentation, that you file the claim with the right office, and so on, thereby avoiding any potential delays.

Will a claims adjuster always get you a higher payout?

An insurance adjuster is your best choice for getting the maximum payout from an agency. He or she knows how to negotiate claims, ensuring no details and costs are overlooked, and also knows standard settlements and judgments for claims like yours. While there is no guarantee of how much you might receive for any claim, the work of an insurance adjuster typically means you’ll get far more than if you attempted to negotiate with your agent yourself!


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