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Types of Adjusters

Arnett & Arnett, PC April 23, 2024

When you find yourself dealing with an insurance claim, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. Among the key players in this process are insurance adjusters–the individuals responsible for assessing your claim and deciding what coverage you're entitled to. But not all adjusters are the same.

Understanding insurance adjusters, their varying roles, and knowing who you're dealing with matters. Whether you're dealing with property damage, bodily injury, or liability claims, understanding your adjuster's role can give you the edge you need to go through the claims process smoothly. 

Learn the benefits of getting to know the different types of insurance adjusters and how this understanding can empower you to advocate for yourself and achieve the best possible outcome for your claim. 

The Core Function of an Insurance Adjuster

An insurance adjuster is a professional responsible for investigating insurance claims to determine the extent of the insurance company's liability. Adjusters are pivotal in the claims process, undertaking critical tasks such as: 

  • Coverage Determination: They review policy terms and conditions to ascertain if the claimed loss qualifies for coverage. 

  • Damage Assessment: Inspect the damage to estimate the cost of repair or replacement. 

  • Settlement Negotiation: Work with the policyholder and other involved parties to reach a fair settlement amount. 

Adhering to the guidelines and ethical standards, they serve as the intermediary between policyholders and their insurance providers. 

The Pillars of Home Adjusting

When a claim is filed, an adjuster will be assigned. For home insurance claims, there are three primary types of adjusters you might deal with: 

Staff Adjusters 

Staff adjusters are full-time employees of the insurance company. They often handle routine claims locally and are generally knowledgeable about the company's policies and procedures. 

Pros and Cons of Dealing With Staff Adjusters 

Professional Knowledge and Support: Staff adjusters have in-depth knowledge of their company's claims process, able to guide policyholders efficiently through the claim. 

Limited Authority: They might have less authority when it comes to finalizing settlements, often needing approval for larger claims, which may slow down the process. 

Independent Adjusters 

Independent adjusters are contractors hired by insurance companies to handle claims on an as-needed basis. Usually, they're brought in when a company is faced with high claim volumes or specialized claims. 

Flexibility and Expertise 

Quick Response: Independent adjusters offer more flexibility in scheduling and tend to respond faster to claims compared to staff adjusters during peak season. 

Distance from Policyholder: They often work remotely and across many clients, which may impact the personalized attention given to a specific claim. 

Public Adjusters 

Public adjusters are claim advocates for policyholders, working to ensure that the policyholder receives a fair settlement. 

Extra Support for Policyholders 

Private Advocacy: Public adjusters work exclusively for the policyholder, making sure that their best interests are represented to the insurance company. 

Fee-Based Services: They charge a percentage (typically 10-20%) of the claim settlement, which may be a downside, especially for smaller claims. 

The Dynamic Between Company and Independent Adjusters

The choice of adjuster depends on various factors, including the nature of the claim, the company's resources, and strategic preferences. Here's a head-to-head comparison: 

Company Adjusters (Staff) 

They are deeply familiar with company procedures, making the back-and-forth more predictable and streamlined, but may offer less flexibility in terms of negotiation and settlement structure. 

Independent Adjusters 

They offer a fresh and unbiased approach, potentially leading to faster settlement, and can offer different claim outcomes that company staff adjusters might not consider. 

Strategies for Effective Interaction with Adjusters 

Navigating the claims process successfully involves effective communication and understanding the adjuster's responsibilities and constraints. 

Staff Adjusters 

Be patient and persistent. Understand that their primary allegiance lies with the insurance company, but be proactive in seeking policy clarification. 

Independent Adjusters 

Open communication is key. Remember they are not decision-makers, but rather they negotiate professionally and present clear evidence to support your claim. 

Public Adjusters 

Collaborate fully. They are your expert guides and often facilitate a smoother negotiation process. Ensure you maintain open lines of communication and trust their advice. 

Tips to Ensure Smooth Claim Processing

While the adjuster type directly impacts your claim's handling, your approach can significantly influence the outcome. Here are some general tips: 

  • Keep meticulous records and documentation from the moment the loss occurs. 

  • Get the help of an attorney, who can advocate for your rights. 

  • Be present and engaged during the inspection, asking questions and seeking clarification on any vague points. 

  • Politely request a second opinion from a different adjuster (if available). 

  • Educate yourself on your policy's nuances to avoid misunderstandings. 

By understanding these types of adjusters and engaging with them strategically, you can significantly increase your chances of a satisfactory claim resolution.

Remember that in the aftermath of a home disaster, claim files can be complex, and the language used is often intricate. Professional adjusters operate within a legal framework and follow strict guidelines. Approach every interaction with professionalism and readiness. After all, your home and peace of mind are worth the effort.