A public adjuster is a professional who is hired to represent the financial interests of an insured person when negotiating the resolution of a claim or claims for loss or damage to their property. They are independent insurance professionals who are employed by the policyholder, not the insurer. Public adjusters are typically hired when a policyholder has a potentially significant claim and is concerned that everything is covered, or if they have difficulty managing all the details of the claim process. A public adjuster will evaluate the damage to your property, help determine the extent of the repairs, and evaluate the replacement value of those repairs.
They will also document and negotiate your insurance claim on your behalf. If additional damage is discovered during repairs, you may want to hire a public adjuster to assess the total cost. Policyholders should be aware that they are claiming the right amount, and hiring a public adjuster can help ensure that. They have created their own regulations and licensing requirements or have adopted some form of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Public Adjuster Licensing Model Law.
Public adjusters are professionals and are unlikely to set aside costs in their calculations that the insured may forget or ignore. The landlord pays them, usually a percentage of the claim amount. Any insurance company may refuse to negotiate with a public adjuster or refuse to pay the agreement desired by the policyholder. If a disparity in the agreement is found, the public adjuster can reopen, renegotiate, or provide guidance on the next best path to achieving a fair and favorable agreement for the insured.
Research your state's regulations to find out if there are limits to the amount a public adjuster can charge. Having an adjuster throughout the process not only protects the policyholder from any inconvenience due to lack of experience, but it is a slow process that is then laborious on the part of the appraiser. Many public appraisers don't charge a fee to visit the site of the loss and determine if they will work with the policyholder on a case. But if you're exhausted, overwhelmed, or unsure of what you're owed, a public appraiser can do the work for you and may be able to negotiate a higher settlement. Often, public appraisers are members of your professional organization, requiring certain skill standards. Visit the United policyholder claims help library, read your policy and endorsements (extras), and be sure to review the policy with any public adjuster you are considering hiring before actually hiring them.