A home insurance adjuster inspects property damage to determine just how much money the insurance company should pay out for the loss based on damage to the structure and your personal belongings. These homeowner insurance adjusters are usually direct employees of the insurance company, but they may operate independently. The adjuster will visit your location to inspect the property, do additional research, and report their findings to your insurance company. When you file a claim, you may need help with how much your insurance company will pay you and what they consider covered. This may result in a dispute in order for you to get just compensation. This guide explains how to deal with a home insurance adjuster to get the money you need to rebuild your home and return to a normal life.
Understanding the role of a home insurance adjuster
A home insurance adjuster, or claims adjuster, is sent to your home after you file a claim to inspect the damage. These professionals have many roles and responsibilities, including:
- Performing a detailed, thorough inspection of your property and documenting the damage via photos, emails, and other means.
- Taking a list of inventory of all your damaged personal belongings.
- Investigating and verifying the cause of the damage to your home.
- Interviewing and taking official statements from you and any applicable witnesses, and either ask for or file a separate police report, depending on the circumstances.
- Speaking to contractors to get repair estimates and recommend companies to you that are verified by the insurance company.
- Reporting information to the insurance company in order to process the claim.
- Serving as a liaison between you and the insurance company to ensure that everything goes smoothly and that your claim is processed as quickly as possible.
Company adjusters work directly as employees for your insurance company. In contrast, independent adjusters work for themselves and can perform their duties for clients no matter what insurance company they have. If you’re unhappy with the inspection results and how much money you’ll receive, you may also have the option to hire a public adjuster. However, if you decide to go this route, you’ll need to pay for the public adjuster out of your own pocket.
Preparing for the insurance adjuster’s visit
Proper preparation is key when you’re filing a home insurance claim. The more evidence and details you can provide, the better the odds your claim will be approved. Here are some tips to help you prepare for the insurance adjuster’s visit:
- Document the damage as thoroughly as possible through videos and photos, including damage to the home and your personal belongings. Label each item individually so that it’s clear and specific about which areas of the home were damaged and how. Supplement this with a written list of damaged property.
- Gather your receipts for personal belongings, including electronics and furniture, if you have them.
- If you can, take testimonies or get written statements from witnesses, especially in the case of theft or vandalism. File a police report immediately after you realize a crime has occurred, and show it to the adjuster.
- Make sure that you will be home when the adjuster visits. This way, you can communicate directly with the adjuster and explain what happened, show them the damage in person, and ask questions about the next steps in the process.
- Always review your homeowner’s insurance policy so that you’re fully aware of your rights and how much coverage you have. The more you know, the more you can communicate this information with the adjuster when they arrive.
How to communicate effectively with home insurance adjusters
Dealing with damage to your home is stressful and overwhelming, but it’s imperative you maintain a professional tone when speaking to the insurance adjuster. Remember, the adjuster is only doing their job, and they have specific guidelines already set forth by their employer and current insurance rules and regulations. Make sure you clearly present your case and provide all pertinent information to the adjuster on the first visit if you can.
- Show the adjuster all physical damage to the home, both inside and outside, and show them any damage to your belongings if applicable.
- If you’ve already started the cleanup process, show the adjuster the videos or photos you took as soon as the damage occurred.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what kind of coverage you have, what to expect next, and anything you’re uncertain about.
- Be ready for additional follow-up phone calls and emails and respond to them as soon as possible. The adjuster will likely contact you several times after the initial visit for clarification or more documentation.
Common pitfalls when dealing with home insurance adjusters
Homeowners may make some common misconceptions and mistakes when dealing with a claims adjuster. First, many homeowners fail to provide adequate documentation of the damage to their homes or belongings or don’t have the proper paperwork or receipts required to get compensation for specific items. Failure to read and fully understand your policy can also result in a problem later. Some homeowners may wait too long to file a claim, resulting in major delays or even denial of the claim.
In some cases, homeowners may decide to hire a company to start repairs before the insurance claim is fully processed. If this happens, the insurance company might not pay for the repairs since they were not previously approved. Patience and diligence are key when dealing with an insurance adjuster, so make sure you give them time to do their job before you decide to do anything to your home. Don’t throw damaged items away until the adjuster documents them, or you might not be compensated. Remember that a home warranty may cover the cost to repair or replace items like major appliances that your insurance company won’t cover.
To avoid these common pitfalls, take the time to document as much as possible before the adjuster arrives. Only hire a company or contractor once your insurance company approves it. Don’t sign anything you’re unclear about or that you disagree with. Once you agree to the information the adjuster sends to the insurance company, you’re likely accountable to it and won’t be allowed to make changes later if you need more money. Try not to get too emotional when speaking to the adjuster and stick to the facts only. The more facts and information you provide initially, the better chances you have of making a successful claim and getting the compensation you need.
How to negotiate with home insurance adjusters
If you’re unhappy with the results of your claim, you might need to negotiate in order to get the compensation you deserve. The amount the insurance company offers could be too low, or they may deny the claim entirely. If you disagree with the offer you receive, you can say “no” and then file a dispute or counter the offer. Here are some tips to help you negotiate with home insurance adjusters:
- Contact your home insurance company directly and let them know that you’re unhappy with the current offer from the adjuster and ask how you can dispute it to get the claim adjusted.
- Request a written breakdown that shows exactly how the adjuster came up with the amount, then be ready and willing to provide additional documentation to show the differences you see.
- Some insurance companies will send the adjuster back to your home for a second inspection, or they may send a different adjuster to see if they come up with a different result. It’s important that you’re willing to do this so that the insurance company is allowed to perform its due diligence.
- Consider hiring an independent or a public adjuster so that you can give your insurance company a second opinion.
- Remember to be patient and persistent when you’re filing an insurance claim and waiting to get the results of your dispute. Be prepared to answer questions and try to respond to any inquiries as soon as possible to help speed things along.
When and why to consider hiring a public adjuster or lawyer
If your home insurance claim is denied or you don’t feel you’re getting the proper compensation, it might be time to consider hiring a public adjuster and/or an attorney. Public insurance adjusters are licensed to practice in different states and work independently or under a firm separate from your insurance company. These professionals know how to assess damages, gather information from witnesses, and make recommendations just as the adjuster from your insurance company does. However, since the insurance company does not directly employ them, they have no special interest in how much money you should receive or whether your claim should be approved.
Most public adjusters charge a contingency fee that ranges from approximately five to 15 percent of the final amount the insurer pays on your claim. The fees may be capped at a specific amount depending on your state. Always agree to these fees upfront before hiring a public adjuster so you’re fully aware of what you’ll be charged. Some states only allow public adjusters to charge contingent fees if they are associated with an attorney. In other cases, the adjuster may work with a lawyer to help you fight the insurance company in court. Always ensure that the adjuster is fully licensed and experienced with working on claims in your location and that they have a good track record of getting home insurance claims approved for a satisfactory amount.
Proper preparation and understanding of your home insurance policy are crucial when dealing with home insurance adjusters. Always remain informed, organized, and proactive about your home insurance so you’re ready if you ever need to find a claim. Knowing how to deal with a home insurance adjuster and understanding the role of homeowner insurance adjusters will ensure your claim is processed quickly and smoothly.