Are Public Adjusters Worth the Money?
Updated: Jan 9, 2020
Purchasing a home can be an exciting time, but in doing so, a whole slew of additional responsibilities are laid on the homeowner’s doorstep. In addition to the overall maintenance of the house and surrounding property, it’s critical to think long term and always have a contingency plan if something ever happens to your home. A public adjuster is instrumental in the process of recovering lost assets in the event of any kind of damage, and a lot of things can go wrong without the help of their expertise.
When disaster strikes, it can be an emotional rollercoaster for homeowners. With claims sometimes taking over a year to resolve, it leaves the insured in a state of limbo until a settlement is reached. Working with the insurance company can be an incredibly draining process with piles of paperwork to be filled out.
After experiencing something like a house fire, the time to orchestrate a claim simply may not be available to you. Many policyholders choose to obtain the representation of a public adjuster to help them through the process, but it is always an option to submit a claim on your own.
What Is a Public Adjuster and How Can They Help File Your Claim?
In the event you are forced to file a claim, it can be extremely helpful to hire a public adjuster to assist you through the entire claim process. A public adjuster is an agent that advocates solely on behalf of the insured, and handles the negotiations and filings with the insurance company directly.
Though it is not required to hire a public adjuster, it can certainly make your life easier in the end. So many things can go awry if you attempt to navigate the claims process on your own. Public adjusters are trained and experienced professionals that can take much of the unknown out of the equation when filing a claim. It is what they do every day, instead of an average policyholder trying to submit a large claim on their own.
Typically, public adjusters work for a percentage of the final claim settlement on their client’s policy. The larger the claim, the more the public adjuster will make. These fees can vary depending on who you choose to represent you, so it’s important to do your homework before selecting an agent.
It is important for homeowners to weigh the pros and cons of the adjusters they research, and to find someone that fits their particular situation. If you are going to spend months working with a public adjuster, you want to make sure that you are comfortable with them and your communication styles are similar in nature.
If homeowners choose to navigate the process alone they may be saving themselves the fees from hiring an adjuster; however, there are a multitude of hurdles they may encounter along the way. Ultimately, by choosing not to hire an adjuster, homeowners could be missing out on a larger settlement in the end.
In some situations, it is more beneficial to just pay the public adjuster fees and end up with more recovered in damages. Below are five big issues homeowners face without a public adjuster.
1. Dealing with Time-Consuming Paperwork and Phone Calls
In most cases, people filing a claim under their homeowners’ policy have just experienced some kind of damage to or significant loss of property. Fires, floods and other catastrophes can put families into a complete tailspin. When these events occur, the last thing people should be worried about is filling out document after document for submission to their insurance company.
Public adjusters are able to take this burden off of the insured so they are able to focus on the important things, like family and rebuilding their home. Without a public adjuster, policyholders may find themselves spending hours of their time on the phone with the insurance company trying to satisfy required documentation and inquiries regarding property value.
2. Giving the Insurance Company The Upper Hand
Public adjusters are there to alleviate stress off of the homeowner so they can relax and work to rebuild. If a homeowner chooses not to hire a public adjuster, they are putting themselves in a position that leaves them vulnerable during the claims process. It’s very similar to an individual choosing to represent themselves in court instead of hiring an attorney.
Without the “expert in the room”, it’s difficult to predict the best outcome for the insured party. If a homeowner chooses not to have a public adjuster represent them, they are essentially giving the insurance company the upper hand in the negotiations of the claim. Undoubtedly, the insurance company has experts in the industry on board, so without representation, homeowners are left with many unanswered questions and uncertainties.
3. Missing Out On The Largest Possible Settlement
No one wants to leave money on the table, especially when it comes to valued property like a home and all of its treasured possessions. Unfortunately, because the claims process can be so complicated, many homeowners lose out on money they could have recovered simply because they didn’t know the reimbursement for a particular item was an option.
Homeowners that are represented by a public adjuster have the peace of mind that a professional in the field is scouring their policy to include every possible property value to increase recovered damages and losses. If a homeowner chooses to file a claim on their own, that peace of mind is gone, as they are left to interpret their policy coverage alone.
In addition to the complicated language included in homeowners insurance policies, it is only natural to possibly overlook certain items in the midst of a disaster. As a homeowner, when disaster strikes, your mind is elsewhere. When you are focused on other things, it could be very easy to overlook things during the claims process. Without a public adjuster, homeowners are alone to advocate for themselves and their property value.
They perform extensive research on the property itself and its contents to make sure that no stone is left unturned. Unfortunately, policyholders that do not have a public adjuster miss out on potential recouped damages that they overlook when documenting their claim.
Everyone knows contracts can often be confusing to anyone who doesn’t practice law, and insurance policies are certainly no exception. Most policies contain numerous clauses with unfamiliar terminology that is often looked over by the insured party. When it comes time to file a claim, each word included in the policy could make a difference to the policyholder and the outcome of the settlement.
If they are not familiar with certain clauses in the policy, they may very well overlook a chance to include certain items for recovery. The last thing a homeowner wants to do is lose out on damages. With a public adjuster, homeowners have someone who knows the terminology inside and out and has experience in negotiating claims, so they are more likely to receive a larger settlement.
Even though homeowners pay a fee to the public adjuster, in the long run, it may be worth the difference. In some situations, it is more beneficial to just pay the public adjuster fees and end up with more recovered in damages.
4. Drawing Out The Length Of Time Needed To Settle
Filing claims without a public adjuster may also draw out the length of time it takes to settle the claim and close the matter. Processing claims can be tedious, and sometimes require multiple submissions to the insurance company. The back and forth simply to establish the proper total cost of damages could take months, weeks or even years to finalize on your own.
The insurance company may reject certain submissions if they are incorrect or incomplete. Each time this happens the finish line to settlement is extended even more. As a homeowner, you may not have that time to give. When dealing with a loss of property, people are typically frantic to find a new temporary place to live, replacing belongings and recovering from the incident.
This doesn’t leave the time required to effectively and efficiently handle a claim alone, which leads to missed opportunities or mistakes. If a homeowner chooses to hire a public adjuster, they can step in and help expedite the claims process and act as the negotiator between the policyholder and the insurance company.
5. Experiencing a Loss Of Recovered Damages
It is not uncommon with homeowners insurance claims to have additional damages surface after the fact. In these cases, it can be incredibly challenging to reopen a claim with the insurance company.
Many people wouldn’t know where to start to begin negotiations again. With a public adjuster on their side, homeowners have an industry expert working diligently for them to ensure they are recovering all possible losses, including those they may surface post-settlement.
Without a public adjuster, most people just assume that there is not an opportunity for a larger settlement. After experiencing a disaster at home, finances can be a very touchy topic for homeowners. Knowing that something was missed in a claim could be devastating, but fighting to reopen a claim may be too much of a burden for the insured to take on.
The process of reopening a claim can be just as frustrating as filing the initial claim. In some cases, maybe more difficult to get the insurance company to negotiate after the fact. As the insurance industry is there to make money, once a claim is fully processed, they may push back more to reopen for additional negotiations. Without a public adjuster, homeowners are left to respond and negotiate on their own.
Though homeowners pay into their policies for the sole purpose of coverage in these situations, the insurance company will still only try to pay out what they absolutely have to. If they can, they will push back so they don’t have to spend additional labor hours negotiating a claim, or additional funds to pay out in more damages. After all, insurance companies are there to make money.
No matter what the situation is, it’s never easy to be faced with a loss or damage to your home, and it’s definitely not something you have to go through alone. Public adjusters are there to serve and assist homeowners during these times, and can absolutely ease the process from start to finish. Though it is possible to navigate the claims process without one, so many things can go wrong without a public adjuster.
When weighing your options on whether or not to bring on a public adjuster, think about these potential hurdles and determine if those risks are worth the potential savings in fees paid to a public adjuster. A house is so much more than brick and mortar – it’s a home, a place of memories and happiness.
When a home is damaged or lost entirely, it only makes sense to proceed in the claims process with the best possible team on your side so that you can get back to normal life as soon as possible with the highest total in recovered damages. Without a public adjuster, homeowners may never know the full potential of their claim.
Don’t let the unknowns during the claims process get the best of you, or allow the stress of intense negotiations in a matter take over your life. As a homeowner, it’s critical to make sure you are informed of all available options before proceeding with a claim, including whether or not to hire representation by a public adjuster.
Knowing the benefits of having representation may sway your decision a bit. If you choose to proceed without a public adjuster during the claims process, it may also be helpful to review what could possibly go wrong without someone advocating for you. Deciding not to hire a public adjuster could make a world of difference in the outcome of a final claims settlement.
If your home or your business has suffered a loss, please call our experts at (305) 956-3666 or visit www.piccfla.com for a FREE claim analysis with PICC.