As a policyholder, you may prefer to work with just one adjuster, but having a company send more than one person can be beneficial. A particular appraiser might take charge of the claim due to their experience with certain types of damage, such as fire or flood. After a big loss, many people describe their experience with an insurance claim as a full-time job. The claims process involves preliminary work, paperwork, math, insurance rules, and negotiation.
Listing, describing, and valuing everything that has been damaged or destroyed, meeting with adjusters, inspectors, and contractors, and reviewing reports and estimates takes a lot of time and effort. On top of that, negotiating a fair claim settlement can be very difficult, especially after an emotionally devastating catastrophe. UP offers tips and tools to help you process your claim on your own. After all, the insurance protection you paid for includes a good claims service. But insurance is big business and you're not on an equal footing with a big insurance company.
You may find that learning the jargon, doing the math, and making sure your claim is thoroughly investigated and fairly paid is too much for you to handle on your own. Depending on your situation: work commitments, health, car-sharing obligations, an uncooperative insurance company, etc., everyone's experience and situation are a little different. When it comes to deciding whether or not to hire a professional to let go of the challenges of insurance claims, the only “right” option is the one that best fits your personal situation. If you have problems with your insurance company or if your personal or professional situation makes it difficult for you to manage all the details, you can hire a professional to help you in case of claims. In most of the U.
S., you can hire an authorized public appraiser for a “contingent” (percentage) fee who will handle your claim and negotiate a settlement on your behalf. A public adjuster is a claims assistance professional that you can hire to represent you in the documentation and negotiation of your insurance claim. A public appraiser works only for policyholders, not for insurers. Once you decide that you want to hire claims help, the key is to find an experienced public appraiser with good references who will accept you as a customer for a fair price. The larger your claim, the easier it will be to find someone who meets those requirements.
Many of the most experienced public appraisers prefer to handle large commercial and dollar lawsuits because they generate higher fees. Be very careful when reviewing references before hiring a public appraiser for a smaller dollar loss. Smaller losses can take just as long as larger losses, so you should make sure that the person you hire doesn't enroll you and then spend their time on bigger losses and leave you in suspense. As with all professionals, it's important to carefully check references and hire someone you trust and feel comfortable working with. You can use the United Policyholders' “Find Help” directory to locate professionals in your area. Your insurance company may assign one or more different adjusters to your claim over time.
Everyone can have a different approach and level of experience. One may have very little experience and be difficult to communicate with; another may be very friendly and have a lot of experience. Many people inform United policyholders that their first appraiser offered them a settlement sum; then left the company or was reassigned; and when a new adjuster arrived, that new adjuster canceled the offer or forced them to start from scratch with the claim. We refer to that problem as “rotary adjusters”. United Policyholders has helped pass laws requiring insurers to submit claims status reports to protect consumers from frustration, delays, and confusion due to appraiser turnover.
When you file a claim, you may do well on your own or you may do better if you hire help; it's an individual decision that you must make based on your own circumstances. A licensed public adjuster can be your representative and advocate in the process of getting your claim “adjusted (processed)” and “resolved” (paid). As with any professional, some public adjusters are better than others; the last thing you need when you've suffered a major loss are additional problems; so review them carefully before hiring. Resist high-pressure sales pitches and don't hire prematurely. Documenting and managing a catastrophic property loss is time consuming and burdensome for even the most sophisticated policyholders. It's hard for them -the insured- to know if they're getting everything they owe under their insurance policy.
In fact, their policy can provide them with extended coverage beyond the dollar limits established in the policy and much more than what the insurer offers. An experienced claims advocate on their side can be a strong voice for them in the process and provide them with much more information and negotiating power in their final insurance agreement than they would have on their own. Rather than relying on the insurance company to decide how much they should be entitled to rebuild their home, hiring a good public appraiser can help them receive the best possible settlement. It is essential to check references and agree on fees and conditions before entering into a contract with a public appraiser.
Once the contract is executed, they are required to pay for the services provided during the term of the contract. Visit the United Policyholders' claims help library; read their policy and its endorsements (extras); and be sure to review the policy with any public adjuster they're considering hiring before hiring it. The tip sheet above was prepared by Amy Bach -co-founder of United Policyholders- and Robert Crown -UP volunteer and licensed public appraiser living in San Francisco Bay Area at Crown Adjusting LLC-. The claims and redress process can take a significant amount of time; so if it becomes too overwhelming for even sophisticated policyholders -or if they want more information or negotiating power- they can always hire an experienced public adjuster who will work diligently on their behalf.