What is a public adjuster & when should I hire one?

When you file a home insurance claim, you can hire a public adjuster to assess the damage and negotiate a claim payout on your behalf. You may want to hire one if you’re filing a claim and feel you were quoted too low or just want a second opinion.

Kara McGinley

By

Kara McGinley

Kara McGinley

Senior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley is a senior editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she writes about homeowners and renters insurance. As a journalist and as an insurance expert, her work and insights have been featured in Kiplinger, Lifehacker, MSN, WRAL.com, and elsewhere.

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When you file a home insurance claim, your insurer will send out a claims adjuster to evaluate the damage and estimate your claim settlement. The claims adjuster represents your insurance company and generally keeps their best interest in mind when determining your payout. 

What is a public adjuster?

To level the playing field, you can hire a public adjuster to help you during the claims process and make sure you’re getting a fair reimbursement. Unlike your regular insurance adjuster, public adjusters work on behalf of the homeowner, meaning they have your best interest in mind throughout the home insurance claim process.

While you typically have to pay your public adjuster a small percentage of your final claim payment, the additional peace of mind often makes it worth the extra expense.

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When to hire a public adjuster

A public adjuster can serve as an expert resource and help you through a potentially complicated claims process. They may also be able to assist you in getting the best claim payout possible. Ultimately, it’s up to you whether you want to hire a public adjuster, since the homeowner is the one who pays for them.

Below are a few instances when hiring a public adjuster may be worth it.

  • Your claim is larger or complicated (such as a roof replacement claim)

  • You aren’t familiar with the claims process 

  • You don’t have time to communicate with the insurance company directly

  • Your past claim payouts have been too low

Essentially, a public adjuster is going to cost you money, but they may also help you maximize your claim reimbursement from your insurance company — as well as save you time by handling the negotiations for you — so it might be worth it in the long run.

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How much does it cost to hire a public adjuster?

Public adjusters generally take a percentage of 5% to 20% of your final claim settlement. You’re responsible for paying the public adjuster, not the insurance company, so you’ll want to consider both the size of your claim and the adjuster’s fee before going ahead with hiring one.

Let’s look at an example of how this works. 

Say your public adjuster has a fee of 10% and they help you negotiate a $100,000 claim payout. You’d owe them $10,000 (10% of $100,000).

What to expect when you hire a public adjuster

When you hire a public adjuster, they'll handle the claims process on your behalf and communicate with your insurance company for you. They typically come to your home to survey the property damage and give you an estimate.

You may want to have a few things on hand for your public adjuster to speed up the process:

  • Your home insurance policy for them to reference

  • Proof of damage if you made temporary, emergency repairs (like pictures or videos)

  • Receipts for your personal belongings if you are filing a personal property claim

Your public adjuster will submit their documents to your insurance company and communicate with them about the claim reimbursement.

How do I find a public adjuster?

To find a public adjuster, NAPIA has a directory on their website with a list of public adjusters in different states. Below are some tips to keep in mind when looking for a public adjuster, according to the Insurance Information Institute. [1]  

  • Use the NPIA directory to make sure the public adjuster is licensed or accredited 

  • Ask for recommendations from family members or friends

  • Beware of public adjusters who are too pushy or pressure you

  • After a natural disaster, make sure you’re checking your state’s department of insurance for updates and regulations around insurance adjusters — they may be permitted to only charge a certain amount due to the increase in claims

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Frequently asked questions

What's the difference between a public insurance adjuster and independent insurance adjuster?

Both independent and public insurance adjusters assess property damage and estimate claim settlements. Independent adjusters work on behalf of the insurance company, but they're not directly employed by the insurer — they work as a third-party contractor. Insurance companies may also have staff or company adjusters who they directly employ. Public adjusters work on behalf of the homeowner, meaning the homeowner hires and pays them.

Why should you hire a public adjuster?

Public adjusters can help navigate the claim process for you and have your best interest in mind. It may be a good idea to hire one if you have a complicated claim and are unfamiliar with the claim process. Just keep in mind that you have to pay a public adjuster.

References

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  1. Insurance Information Institute

    . "

    What is a public adjuster?

    ." Accessed September 29, 2022.

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Author

Senior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley

Senior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

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Kara McGinley is a senior editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she writes about homeowners and renters insurance. As a journalist and as an insurance expert, her work and insights have been featured in Kiplinger, Lifehacker, MSN, WRAL.com, and elsewhere.

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