Following severe weather disasters, residents who have suffered damage to their property may be approached by a public adjuster. This type of adjuster may offer to represent the homeowner in settling claims with their insurance company for a fee, which is usually a percentage of the claim settlement.
Consumers need to know that there are different types of adjusters, and that their roles, services and fees differ, say representatives from the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration. In the case of larger weather events or disasters, not all adjusters will live or work in Missouri. Some adjusters may be sent from other states to help when there are a large number of claims.
“When you’ve sustained a significant loss, it’s natural to want to move quickly to restore your home and property and return to a sense of routine,” said Chlora Lindley-Myers, director of DIFP. “Consumers should work first with their insurance companies. If they do enter into a contract with a public adjuster, it’s important they know they are responsible for all of those fees.”
Lindley-Myers also reminds consumers the Department of Insurance is available to assist them with their questions or complaints. The agency’s services are free of charge.
An adjuster is a person who will determine the amount of damage to your home and property, what can be repaired or replaced, and at what cost. An adjuster will review your insurance policy to determine if the damage is covered and if there are any dollar limits or deductibles that would apply. They should also explain your policy’s coverage for the claim. There are three types of adjusters: company, public and Independent. Company and independent adjusters are paid by insurance companies. The Post-Disaster Claims Guide provides more details regarding the different types of adjusters and how they serve consumers.
If you hire a public adjuster, the insurance company may still send its own adjuster. The insurance company doesn’t have to accept the estimates of your public adjuster. The insurance company will typically send either a company adjuster or independent adjuster to assess and estimate damage to your home or property.
If you hire a public adjuster, it’s your responsibility to pay their fee.
• Public adjusters can charge a flat fee or a fee that’s based on a percentage of the settlement you get from your insurer. Since this amount usually is paid from your insurance settlement, DIFP recommends asking about and understanding the fees you will pay. Make sure you will still have enough money to repair or rebuild your home.
• A public adjuster should give you a contract. The contract should explain what services the adjuster will provide and how much you will pay.
• If you hire a public adjuster after your insurer has made an initial claims settlement, your contract should state if the settlement amount is the least you’ll be paid after the adjuster takes his fee from the final settlement.
• You should ask your public adjuster to routinely provide you with updates on the status of your claim.
Lindley-Myers suggests checking with the Department of Insurance to verify the public adjuster is licensed. Consumers with questions or complaints can call the Insurance Consumer Hotline at 800-726-7390 or visit https://insurance.mo.gov.