Your house was just damaged by fire or water -- should you look into property damage insurance consulting? Hiring a consultant, also known as a public claims adjuster, can help you navigate the claims process and receive a fair settlement. The adjuster, however, will also take a portion of your settlement as payment for his or her services. Is it still worth it then to hire an adjuster? Read on to find out.
What is Property Damage Insurance Consulting?
Normally when your home sustains damage that is covered by your homeowners policy, you deal directly with the insurance company to settle the claim. You may, however, feel intimidated by the process. Even worse, you might suspect that your company is trying to pay you less than what your claim is worth.
Wouldn't it be nice if there was an expert who could consult with during the claim? That's exactly what property damage insurance consulting is all about.
What Does the Adjuster Do?
If you hire a consultant soon after you have a loss, the consultant will take over and handle the entire claim for you. This includes filing the claim with the insurance company, collecting all relevant papers, inspecting the damage and negotiating the settlement.
If you wait until later in the process to hire a consultant, he or she can still help negotiate a settlement, or review the settlement offer that has already been made.
To receive the full benefit of hiring a public adjuster, contact one immediately after your home suffers damage.
When to Hire a Consultant
Since the adjuster will be taking a portion of your settlement, it's important to know when you should consider hiring someone to help with your claim.
- Large Loss. If you have extensive damage to your home, the need for a consultant is greater than when there is only minor damage.
- Insurance Company is Slow. Your insurance company adjuster should contact you within 24-48 hours after you file the claim, and then maintain contact at regular intervals afterwards. If this is not happening, the presence of a public adjuster may speed the claim along. Note, however, that if your damage is the result of a storm, delays should be expected.
- The Claim is Complex. Many claims are cut and dry and require minimal negotiation to settle fairly. Some claims, however, are far more complex. The difference between replacing your roof and repairing it can be a judgment call, for example. A consultant will act on your behalf to help ensure that your claim is settled with your best interests in mind.
- You Don't Have Time. Your life is likely very busy already, and having to deal with your insurance company and the repair people may be too much to handle. Relieve the pressure by hiring someone to take care of the details for you.
Tips and Advice
Before you hire an adjuster, you should consider the following factors:
- May Anger Your Insurance Company. The company adjuster may get upset if you hire someone. This could cause him or her to drag out the claim or make a lower settlement offer. If you have your insurance with a company known for it's excellent claims service, you might want to see how your claim is handled before hiring a consultant.
- Costs You Money. The public adjuster will take anywhere from 5% to 50% of your settlement. This could be worth it if you don't have time to handle your claim. However, if your goal is to maximize your settlement, you might take home more money if you handle the claim yourself.
- Find an Adjuster Ahead of Time. Most people buy insurance and then forget about it -- until disaster strikes. The problem is that when you most need an adjuster, you are in the worst position to find one. Avoid this problem by searching before the flood or fire strikes. Even just having a few names and phone numbers written down helps tremendously.
- Find a Good Consultant. Co-workers, neighbors, friends, and acquaintances may have a reference -- ssk around to see who has hired a public adjuster. You can also contact your state insurance office for assistance as well.