If your home or business suffers a property loss, you must immediately make a series of critical, but difficult, decisions. Amidst the chaos of a property loss, perhaps no decision is more important than hiring a public adjuster (PA) to guide you along the claims process.
The bottom line is that, after a property loss has occurred, you need a public adjuster. Most home or business owners find themselves in a completely foreign situation and become overwhelmed dealing with the loss and the complex insurance claims process. Where else can a policyholder turn for true expertise and advocacy in the area of claims processing?
What about your insurance agent? The insurance agent’s job is to put the insurance policy together, and report your loss to the insurance company. Their professional expertise is supplying coverage – not preparing detailed estimates of the damages for the insurance company. Good PAs will always work closely with a client’s insurance agent, but maintain a distinct role in that the PA represents the client – not the insurance company.
What about the insurance company adjuster? Insurance adjusters work on behalf of the insurance company. Most insurance adjusters work hard to be fair to the policyholder, but they also want to save the insurance company as much financial exposure as possible. After all, they owe their allegiance to the insurance company who pays them a salary. PAs, by contrast, are hired to represent the insured’s interests. From beginning to end, the PA will handle prep work, claims negotiations and settlement to ensure that the policyholder gets everything they’re entitled to under their insurance policy.
What is a PA exactly?
A public insurance adjuster is a professional who is licensed, trained and experienced in claims processing – and who works exclusively for you. A public insurance adjuster’s only stake is in protecting your interests and making sure that you receive what you are entitled to under your insurance policy.
Simply put, the PA devotes personalized attention and industry expertise to facilitate and expedite claims processing. A good PA will understand every detail in your insurance policy, know the entire claims process inside and out, and have ongoing and long-standing relationships with the various professionals and consultants that the insurance company retains.
Here are a few additional traits you should require from your PA:
- Professionally trained and licensed by the state
- The same people who prepare your claim should be involved from the beginning of the claims process to the end of it.
- Fluent in insurance coverage, damage evaluation, and claims preparation
- Assists and advises on the application of your insurance coverage
- Works directly with the insured with undivided loyalty
- Negotiates settlements with the insurer and secures the most favorable recovery
- Shifts the burden and provides peace of mind!
When to hire your PA
Even if you understand the need to hire a PA after a property loss, it can be hard to pull the trigger on picking one. Several PAs will directly solicit an insured at the time of a loss. It’s important to avoid making a rash decision on retaining a PA until you have processed the initial shock of suffering a property loss. Take a breath and make an intelligent decision about which PA to retain because you want the right professional managing what for you is a major asset.
At the same time, you need professional direction from the outset of this process. So, after the initial turmoil of suffering a major property loss, get back to business. Get recommendations from your professional network, get the board-up restoration services in place, and find a PA who is a good fit for you and your claim.
Remember, PAs have relationships with the insurance adjusters and other players, and understand how to navigate these interactions. A good PA will assert control early in the claims process, making sure your interests are primary and protected. This way, the process favors you and not the other stakeholders.
The value of a PA
The insurance adjuster’s job is to investigate the incident and report back to the insurance company. Insurance adjusters formulate their opinions on the amount of the loss – the “reserve” – decisions that tend to be made quickly and with limited information. An assessment by an inexperienced insurance adjuster, unmitigated by a PA’s counter-influence, can negatively impact the tone and substance of your entire claim going forward.
When you and the representative from the insurance company meet, it’s CRITICAL to have a PA on hand! Otherwise, the insurance company will take the first step, and you’ll be playing catch up, reacting to moves made by the insurance company. The PA can do the talking on your behalf.
Hiring a PA is a decision to have a true partner – someone to help navigate the issues and advocate on your behalf. A PA will get you the best possible recovery so you can get back on track – whether it’s your business or your life.