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Homeowners insurance adjusters are responsible for investigating damage to a policyholder’s property, and assessing liability based on the terms of the insurance policy. The adjuster may be employed by the insurance agency (staff adjuster or independent adjuster) or by the policyholder (public adjuster). In either case, they work for the fairest settlement that is in the best interests of their employer.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the damage, there may be different conditions affecting who the adjuster is. If it is a single occurrence, the adjuster will most likely be assigned from a pool of adjusters in the area. If it is a large scale event (hurricane, hailstorm, etc.) adjusters may be called in from all over the country, and may be a mix of staff and independent adjusters.
Types of Home Insurance Claims
- Natural disasters (hurricanes, floods, hail, tornadoes, etc.)
- Fire and smoke damage, and damage from explosions
- Damage from civil unrest
These are by no means the only instances. The adjusters respond to any damage covered under an individual’s policy. In addition to on-site inspections, they may also check police and hospital records, and interview witnesses in order to determine liability.
Staff/Independent and Public Insurance Adjusters
Although all insurance adjusters work to arrive at what they perceive to be a fair
settlement and reimbursement for loss, they will place primary emphasis on the interests of their employers. If a policyholder does not agree with the findings of a staff adjuster, they are entitled to hire a public adjuster. Differences in assessed liability may be handled through legal channels or through a mediation board. Public adjusters work for a set fee.
Working with Insurance Adjusters
When working with an claims adjuster there are several things a homeowner can do to help to process go smoothly and facilitate a better settlement.
Know the details of your policy – What is and is not covered; policy limitations and exclusions, is reimbursement for actual cash value or replacement value; keep your policy up-to-date to reflect changes in the housing market and the value of your personal property.
Keep records – As best as possible, keep an inventory of all covered property. Have it available when the adjuster arrives.
Be available – When you set an appointment with an adjuster be there, and stay for the duration of the visit. Be available to answer any questions, and ask questions about things you do not understand.
If you are not satisfied with an insurance adjuster’s findings, do not sign anything until you have pursued your options. Among these are hiring public insurance adjusters or contacting an attorney who specializes in the particular field.