The time and energy required for documenting a property loss claim and negotiating with the insurance company for the settlement you deserve after you had just been through a fire, flood or other disaster, is more than most homeowners or business owners can take on. Hiring professional help will in most cases not just save the insured a lot of time, but will also result in a higher settlement.
Professionals that represent the insured in the claim process and negotiations with the insurance companies following a property loss are called public or private adjusters. Unlike insurance adjusters, which are hired by the insurance companies to evaluate the loss and also trained to save the insurance company money by paying out as little as possible, public adjusters are hired by the insured and represent them in the negotiations.
Like in any profession, the more experience the public adjusters, the better they will be able to handle the claim for a fair settlement. As in most states what a public adjuster can charge for his services is capped at a percentage of the settlement amount (usually 5 to 15%, depending on the type of claim), it makes a lot of sense to ask a lot of questions and do the homework before hiring one.
Some of the most important to ask prospective adjusters are:
- Are they licensed in your state? As each state has its own regulations when it comes to the public adjuster business, make sure the person you are hiring has a valid license and is fully qualified to handle your claim.
- Are they going to handle your claim personally, or will they pass it on to someone else after the sign up?
- Can they give you past references that you could call up?
- How much experience do they have in processing insurance claims?
- Is he able to bring to the table experienced contact appraisers, building estimators, and other proffesionals that assure a of successful claim?
- Is he located in your area? As the claim process can be prolonged, make sure they will be available to meet with you as many times as necessary.
- What kind of success rate did they have in the past?
Taking the time in the beginning to check references, to make sure the public adjuster you hire is experienced and certified, and it brings to the table the right credentials, commitment and work ethic you are comfortable with, will assure a smooth working relationship and the best settlement you are entitled to.