“Hey, Clint—what’s a public adjuster?”
This is a common question I receive from policyholders after they experience a loss. The term adjuster is used in the insurance industry to describe someone who inspects a loss, documents the loss, and determines whether the loss is covered. The insurance companies hire what they claim are independent adjusters. But those “independent” adjusters are hired by and work at the direction of the insurance company. Luckily, policyholders have their own advocates on the adjusting side: public adjusters.
Public adjusters work for homeowners and business owners. The laws regulating public adjusters help ensure that policyholders are treated fairly and ethically. Public adjusters provide crucial services to their customers, including:
- Inspecting the loss;
- Documenting the loss with photographs, videos, and sketches;
- Working with other professionals, like contractors and mitigation experts, to fully estimate the cost for repair or replacement of the damaged property;
- Interpreting insurance policy provisions to determine whether a loss is covered by the policy;
- Communicating with the insurance company on your behalf throughout your claim;
- Advocating for compliance with time limits imposed on insurance companies;
- If your claim is denied or underpaid, by communicating with your attorney to help facilitate any legal action taken.
Public adjusters are usually paid a percentage of what they recover for you. For hurricane losses, if the claim is made within the first year after the date of loss, then the fee is limited to 10% of the recovery. After year one, and for all other losses, fees range from 10%-30%, with most being in the 10-20% range. This is where an attorney may be able to put more money in your pocket.
Attorneys can usually recover their fees separately from the indemnity paid to the client. That means the client would pay the public adjuster’s percentage from their indemnity check. However, if a client hires an attorney, that attorney can pay the public adjuster a flat fee to provide the same level of service. Depending on the amounts of the fee, claim, deductible, and total coverage limits, this could put thousands of dollars into the client’s pocket.
For example, on a $100,000 paid loss with a 20% public adjuster fee, the client pays the public adjuster $20,000 and keeps $80,000. However, if that same client hired an attorney and that attorney hired the public adjuster for a flat fee of $2,000, then the client walks away with a total of $98,000 (with attorney’s fees paid separately).
For those familiar with this industry, there are certainly more factors to consider than the simple example above. However, the fact remains that public adjusters provide valuable, necessary services to policyholders. Clint & Company, P.A. works with many of these outstanding public adjusters regularly and can assist policyholders in obtaining their services.
Call me right now at (407) 212-7598 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.