What Is An Insurance Adjuster?
So, you had some damage to your home or property theft. You have to call in an insurance adjuster to help you out. So, just what is an insurance adjuster and what do they do?
An insurance adjuster or claims adjuster determines how much your insurance company should pay you should you make a claim. They speak with you, assess for damages, speak with any witnesses, and more to ensure you get the best amount for your claim possible. The insurance adjuster starts the process by opening a claim file. They plan to present the claim file to the insurance company and you, the insured, just like a lawyer presents a case to a judge and jury.
Let’s give a scenario. You have lived in your home for the past 15 years. You love it, you’ve put work into making it your own. Then, a Category 2 hurricane comes through and causes extensive property damage to your beloved home. The insurance adjuster will come in, take photos of the damage, talk to any witnesses to make sure you aren’t trying to scam your insurance company, and give their own assessment on how much you should receive.
If it’s a scenario like a car accident or your neighbor's tree fell into your yard- it’s a little more complicated. If it’s your neighbor's tree but your yard- who pays? And how much do they pay? That’s where the insurance claims adjuster comes in to make the decision on your behalf. The insurance adjuster will come to your place, take pictures, assess the damage, speak with you and your neighbor, and may also interview witnesses and consult with experts in roofing or landscaping to get their opinions. They then compile everything in a report for your insurance company.
Every state has different laws and practices when it comes to filing insurance claims and working with an insurance adjuster. In the state of Florida, this can mean a variety of things. According to myfloridacfo.com, A licensed contractor under Chapter 489, Part I, or a subcontractor, may not adjust a claim on behalf of an insured unless licensed and compliant as a public adjuster. However, Florida Statute 626.854(15), F.S., clarifies that a licensed contractor may discuss or explain their bid for construction or repair of covered property with the owner of the residential property or the insurance company that is covering the property if they are doing so for the usual and customary fee that applies to the work they will be performing as stated in the contract between the contractor and the insured.
Be careful who you go to to have your claim handled. The Florida Bar has recently made it clear that if a public adjuster files a claim of lien against a customer on their behalf or on behalf of their adjusting firm, which is a fictitious entity requiring representation by a lawyer, it would be considered engaging in the unlicensed practice of law. There is no statutory authority to authorize the conduct as section 713.03, F.S creates liens rights in favor of numerous occupations and professions, but fails to include public insurance adjusters.
Any public adjuster that engages in this type of activity is subject to disciplinary action by the Florida Bar and the Florida Department of Financial Services if a violation of the Florida Insurance Code is committed. There are different types of insurance adjusters- company, independent, and public. According to Insureon:
- Company adjusters are employees of the insurance company. Since company adjusters work for your insurer, they primarily serve the needs of their employer. Although they consider your concerns, they’re largely focused on settling claims quickly and reducing claim payouts for their companies.
- Independent adjusters are self-employed adjusters whom insurers hire in certain circumstances. Independent insurance adjusters also work for insurers, except on a freelance or consulting basis. Companies may use them in cases where they don’t have a claims employee in a geographic area, are overloaded with claims, or lack an adjuster with experience in a certain type of claim.
- Public adjusters are similar to independent adjusters, except they work for the insured, not the insurer. Because insurance consumers hire them, public adjusters are in a better position to provide objective advice on settlements, a percentage of which serves as their fee. And since larger settlements increase their compensation, a public adjuster’s interests will usually align with yours.
Public adjusters are better if it’s a bigger claim. If it’s a simple small business claim or just a few hundred or a few thousand dollars, a different adjuster may be best for you. If you suffered a major loss or a major financial asset was taken from you, a public insurance adjuster may be the way to go for you.
Insurance adjusters can be a big help in times of tragedy or major stress. When a catastrophic event happens, the last thing you often think about is insurance. They are able to help in multiple ways and take some of the
stress off your plate.