What Is an Insurance Adjuster?
An insurance adjuster, sometimes called a claims adjuster or claims handler, is the person who investigates claims for an insurance provider. The investigation may include interviewing witnesses, inspecting property damage, and reviewing police and hospital records.
What Does an Adjuster Do?
When you file an insurance claim, your insurer has a claims adjuster look into the events surrounding the loss. Typically, this means the adjuster:
- Collects information about the event.
- Assesses the damage and liability.
- Ensures your claim isn’t fraudulent.
- Determines the amount your insurance company should pay.
- Works with the insurance company’s attorneys if you contest the outcome.
For small claims, an adjuster may only contact you by phone. But for something more costly, like a flood claim, an adjuster may need to come to your property to survey and record the damage.
5 Tips for Working with an Adjuster
Perhaps the most important thing to remember about a claims adjuster is they work for the insurance provider — not you. While their goal is to provide a fair settlement, you may still need to be ready to make a case for yourself. These five tips can help:
- Document your possessions. Before you experience a loss, spend a little time creating a home inventory. This can help the adjuster verify your losses and speed up the claims process. You can use a written list, but you might also want supporting documentation, like receipts, photographs, video, or warranties. Store these items somewhere secure and accessible during an emergency.
- Review your home insurance. Do this before you experience a loss. Read your policy to see what events are covered, what property is covered, and what your limits are. Most policies also list steps for filing a claim.
- Make a list of questions. A major loss can be overwhelming. Take a moment to write down the things you want to know before you meet with your claims handler.
- Be honest about the loss. Overstating the extent of the damage can send up red flags, but you also don’t want to get less than what you’re insured for. Be straightforward about your loss so the adjuster can evaluate it fairly.
- Avoid altering the condition of your property. Insurance adjusters need to see the scene as is, so do not clean up or fix your damaged property. If you do have to make repairs, take photos of the property and keep receipts for the materials you use.
You have a better chance of receiving an appropriate settlement when you’ve done your research and can assist the claims adjuster.
Should I Hire an Independent Adjuster?
Some homeowners may decide to hire with an independent or public adjuster. An independent adjuster offers an objective perspective and can usually help:
- Demonstrate your losses.
- Get estimates for your repairs.
- Negotiate with your insurance provider’s adjuster.
Many public adjusters charge a fee based on the amount you collect, usually between five and 15 percent. Some will even visit your damaged property and help you determine if you should file a claim. Considering how important accurate details are for recouping the right amount of money, hiring a public adjuster after a major claim may make sense.
If you decide to hire an independent adjuster, do your due diligence. Adjusters must be licensed in their state, and most need to be bonded before they can offer services, so check their credentials. Also, be wary of anyone offering their services immediately after a disaster. That’s typically a red flag for scams.