f you’re hiring a public adjuster, it’s important to keep in mind that this person is going to be working for you. You’re the boss, so you’ve got to think like a boss. That means interviewing them and asking the right questions. We’ve listed eleven questions that you should ask any public adjuster before you make the hire.
WHY HIRE A PUBLIC ADJUSTER?
Before we talk about how to hire a public adjuster, let’s talk for a second about why you would want to hire one in the first place. The short answer is that you hopefully will never need to hire one. However, if your home or business is damaged, you’ll need to fire an insurance claim, which means providing the insurance company with an estimate of the damages. If the claim is very large, or if the insurance company thinks they can get away with paying less, they will send an insurance adjuster to draw up their own estimate.
When this happens, you have a few options. You can accept the insurance company’s offer, you can sue the insurance company, or you can hire a public adjuster to make a counteroffer. Accepting the company’s offer isn’t always the best idea. In some cases, you may be asked to settle for far less than the actual cost of damages. However, suing the insurance company can get expensive. They have teams of corporate lawyers, and you’ll end up spending a lot of money on your own legal case. Meanwhile, you’ll receive no funds during the legal process, so you’ll have to repair your home or business and pay your lawyer out of pocket.
A public insurance adjuster offers a great compromise. They can get you a better settlement, and you won’t have to pay out of pocket. For more information, read our guide on when to contact a Florida public adjuster.
1. HOW LONG HAVE THEY BEEN IN BUSINESS?
There’s nothing wrong with being new to the business. Even the biggest, most prestigious firms once started as a single adjuster opening their own small business. But if someone is just starting out in their own business, you’d expect them to have previous experience working for another firm. If they haven’t, steer clear.
2. ARE THEY PART OF A TEAM?
A single public adjuster, even a very well-qualified one, can only be so knowledgeable. A team of adjusters can pool their knowledge and help each other out, leading to better results for their clients.
3. ARE THEY LICENSED IN FLORIDA?
If you’re in another state, this applies to your state as well. An unlicensed public adjuster isn’t just breaking the law by practicing without a license. They can also put you at risk, since there’s no guarantee that they’re even competent.
4. DO THEY HAVE EXPERIENCE WITH CLAIMS LIKE YOURS?
For any qualified public adjuster, south Florida hurricanes should be par for the course. But if you’re dealing with an unusual claim – for example, if a car ran off the road and into your living room – you’ll want to know that your public adjuster is qualified to deal with your claim’s quirkier aspects.
5. HOW DO THEY GET PAID?
A public insurance adjuster should only get paid when you get paid, taking a percentage of your claim. If your adjuster is asking for an up-front fee, don’t do business with them. What they’re doing is unethical.
6. DO THEY HAVE EXPERIENCE DEALING WITH MORTGAGE LENDERS?
Depending on your situation, you may still owe money to a mortgage lender, and they’re most likely not going to be patient with you while the insurance company handles your claim. An experienced public adjuster can oftentimes serve as an intermediary to help you deal with your mortgage lender’s demands.
7. WHO WILL PREPARE MY CLAIM?
The opposite problem of working with too small a team is working with a big firm that farms out their work to third-party contractors. So you can be paying for a prestigious name, but getting freelance service. Make sure that your public insurance adjuster will be personally involved with your claim.
8. CAN I STAY INVOLVED WITH MY CLAIM?
Some public adjusters prefer that their clients not communicate directly with the insurance company. Others are comfortable to share these responsibilities with their clients. There’s no right or wrong answer to this question, but it’s important that you and your adjuster are on the same page here.
9. CAN THEY PROVIDE LOCAL REFERENCES?
The average person may never need a public adjuster’s services or may need them once or twice at most. If their adjuster did a good job, they’re going to remember it. Ask your prospective public adjuster for references. If they’re not prepared to offer any, scratch them off your list.
10. HOW MANY CLAIMS ARE THEY HANDLING?
Sometimes, in the aftermath of a natural disaster, public adjusters can become overwhelmed with claims from a large number of people. In this case, a qualified, competent adjuster may simply be too busy to give your claim the individual attention it deserves.
11. WHAT ARE THEIR ERRORS AND OMISSIONS POLICY?
Errors and Omissions is the insurance industry’s version of malpractice insurance. It ensures that if your public adjuster makes a mistake that costs you money, they’ll be able to compensate you. Every licensed public adjuster should carry a policy. If they’re not willing to share this information with you, tell them to take a hike.
HOW TO FIND A CLAIMS ADJUSTER IN FLORIDA
If you’re hiring a public adjuster in Florida, consider hiring Stellar Public Adjusting. Our qualified adjusters are experienced in Florida home and business claims, and we don’t hire out our work to independent contractors. When your adjuster shows up to create your claim, you can rest assured that this is the same person who will be dealing with the insurance company on your behalf.
Use our web form to contact us today. If you have an urgent problem that requires immediate assistance, call our office at 305-570-3519.