Public Adjusters vs Independent Adjusters

There are major differences when it come to the difference between public adjusters vs independent adjusters and what they do or who they work for.

All claims adjusters (insurance, independent or public) investigate insurance claims by interviewing the claimant and

Insurance Policy Holderswitnesses, consulting police and hospital records and inspecting property damage to determine the extent of the company’s liability. The documents they handle contain technical terms such as depreciation, replacement costs and actual cash value that they have been specifically educated about through special training and licensing. Adjusters may handle property claims involving damage to building and structures or liability claims involving personal injuries or third-person property damage from liability situations, such as motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls, dog bites or alleged negligent behavior. Some adjusters are trained to handle both types and are known as Multi-Line Adjusters. Also, All Lines Adjusters, may handle any type of claim already mentioned plus Professional Liability, Hospital Professional Liability, Excess Liability, Physicians and Surgeons Liability, Aircraft Liability/Hull, Inland Marine, Ocean Marine, Boiler and Machinery and various types of Bond Losses.

Public Adjusters work exclusively for the insured which means there is no inherent conflict of interest when it comes to advocating on behalf of the policyholder to the insurance company. Both types of adjusters can have any or all experience with any kind of claims and experience varies among adjusters. An independent adjuster could be working for multiple insurance companies or self-insured entities. If licensed by the state authority they represent the pinnacle of property loss knowledge in their field; whether it be residential, vehicular, marine, etc.

An adjuster will frequently verify if an insurance policy covers the claim damages. They will investigate liability for the damages caused and make compensation to the injured person based on their emotional or physical property damages. Many homeowners reach a fair settlement with the insurance adjuster or the independent adjuster working on their behalf but when this is not the case, a public adjuster can be hired to reopen the claim to do their own investigation and negotiate more money if they find the settlement could have been better for the claimant based on their findings. If the damage is over $10,000 it may be advised to hire a public adjuster up front since there may be more details and opportunity for loss as the insurance adjuster’s main interest will be to save money for the insurance company that employs them. Public adjusters claim that many homeowners do not collect all the money that they are entitled to due to lack of familiarity with the claims process so insurance adjusters have the advantage over them. The use of a public adjuster may mitigate this risk and could help put the policyholder on a more equal footing with the insurance companies who use experts to support their side of a claim settlement.

Public adjusters do charge for their services but it does not come out of pocket up front from the policyholder who hires them. The standard rate is 10% of your claim settlement based on what state your claim is in and many times depending on the track record and experience of the adjuster. Some states enforce caps on what Public Adjusters can charge for their services while others operate in more of a free market. Based on the 10% average fee, if you suffer a $300,000 fire loss, the public adjuster fee for assisting you would be $30,000 which would be deducted by your claim settlement. Thus, the more the Public Adjuster recovers, the higher their fee is so it behooves him to put in the additional effort to find as much recoverable money as possible which means they are truly working in your best interest. A good public adjuster will be detailed oriented and take the extra time it takes to investigate the claim.

Some states now require public adjusters to disclose to claimants whose interest specifically independent, staff and public adjuster represent before they are retained from the policyholder. There is no such requirement at this time for insurance companies to do so. Many states require a state certification in order to practice as any kind of adjuster and continuing education to maintain a license.

Claims adjusters work long hours including work nights and weekends. Their work is appointment based around the needs of their clients. Staff adjusters, who work for a specific insurance company, work from an office while Independent and public adjusters often work from home. They receive their work assignments daily by fax, email or by checking a designated website while staff adjusters receive their assignments when they arrive at the office first thing in the morning. In the case of a severe natural disaster such as floods or tornadoes, independent and public adjusters travel to the area to supplement local adjusters. Often this requires incoming adjuster’s presence in the field for days to weeks at a time. Most adjusters enjoy the variety this type of work offers and many start out working for an insurance company or independent adjusting company then venture into public adjusting to become self-employed for the flexibility it provides.