A home insurance adjuster, also called a claims adjuster, is responsible for investigating and gathering evidence about the extent of damage or loss after you've filed a homeowners insurance claim. The adjuster helps your homeowners insurance company confirm the legitimacy of your claim and determine how much you are owed.
If you file a homeowners insurance claim for a house fire, for example, a home insurance adjuster will go to your home to investigate the cause, evaluate the damage, and estimate your compensation amount.
What to expect from a home insurance claims adjuster
A home insurance adjuster’s job is to evaluate your property, gather evidence of the reported loss, and determine your reimbursement amount.
When you file a homeowners insurance claim with your insurance company, they may send out a home insurance adjuster to assess the damage to your property and provide the insurer with evidence of the loss and how it happened. The claims adjuster helps determine how much the insurance company owes you for repairs by investigating the claim as well as gathering details about your home and property before it was damaged.
There are a few standard procedures a claims adjuster may take when they come out to your home:
Closely inspect the damage to your home and personal property and determine the extent of the loss
Review evidence of your loss, like pictures, receipts, or a home inventory
Interview and collect a statement from you
Review police reports or medical records if you have any
Speak with repairs companies or contractors to get cost estimates
The home insurance adjuster serves as your point of contact when it comes to your claim. A settlement amount may be made with you directly on behalf of the insurance company.
How to deal with a home insurance adjuster
One thing to keep in mind with regards to insurance adjusters is that they work on behalf of the insurance company, not you. The adjuster’s job is often to calculate the lowest possible settlement amount for their employer, so the claim check you get back could be lower than you initially anticipated. But with that in mind, a claims adjuster should act professionally and in good faith.
Even though they work on behalf of the insurance company and not you, a claims adjuster is there to reach a settlement. If you feel you were low-balled on a compensation amount, it’s your right as the policyholder to dispute the settlement.
Some insurance companies handle the claims process better than others, which is why it’s so important to take claim satisfaction ratings into consideration when deciding on an insurance company. You can read our list of best homeowners insurance companies here.
Here are some useful tips to keep in mind when filing a claim and working with an adjuster.
Get receipts ready - When filing a personal property claim, you’ll want to have receipts so you can show how much your belongings were worth and when you bought them
Collect evidence - The more evidence of the loss, the better. You should take photos of the damage before you make temporary repairs or remove debris so that you have photographic proof of the initial damage
Know your policy - It’s helpful to know how much coverage you have and the details of your policy
Prepare to negotiate - If you feel like you’ve been quoted too low of an estimate, don’t be intimidated to negotiate with your claims adjuster, they may be missing evidence and come back with a more generous settlement amount
Consider hiring your own contractors - An insurance company may have contractors or construction companies that they already work with, but you may want to consider hiring your own licensed contractors to get a second opinion. This will come in handy if you need to negotiate your settlement
Should I hire a public adjuster?
If you feel like you’ve been quoted too low and your negotiations aren’t working, or if you simply want a second opinion on a claim payout, you can hire your own public claims adjuster. A public adjuster does the same job as other claims adjusters, except they are not tied to any specific insurance company and they typically charge a service fee.
Keep in mind you’ll have to pay the public claims adjuster yourself, but it never hurts to get a second opinion on the cost of claim, especially if it's an expensive loss. If you hire a public claims adjuster, they’ll survey and investigate your claim, then work with your insurance company or their claims adjuster to reach a settlement.
What happens after the home insurance adjuster visits your property?
After the home insurance adjuster submits their final report, your insurance company will issue a settlement to cover repairs or a full rebuild of your home. If you have a mortgage on the home, your homeowners insurance company will issue two checks, one to you and one to your lender.
Depending on the extent of your claim, the settlement checks could be used to cover damage to your home, personal property loss, or additional living expenses.
How is my home insurance settlement determined?
How you’re reimbursed for personal property damage depends on if your belongings are insured at their replacement cost or actual cash value. If they’re insured at their actual cash value, your insurer will take the item's age and wear and tear into consideration and reimburse you its depreciated value. But if your property is insured at its replacement cost, you’ll be reimbursed for new items.
How long does it take to get my home insurance claim payout?
How long it takes to receive your claim payout depends on your insurance company, the specifics of your claim, and in some cases, which state you live in. Certain states require insurance companies to payout claims within a specific timeframe, while other states do not. For example, in Texas, insurers must payout claims within five days of accepting them.
Generally, if you immediately report the claim, have the evidence prepared, and work efficiently with the claims adjuster, then the smoother the whole process will be. After your claim is accepted you can ask your insurance company to give you an estimate on how long they think the whole process will take, but keep in mind they may not have an exact answer. You can read more about how long it takes to receive a claim payout here.