Dealing with an insurance adjuster after your property is damaged can often be a daunting task. Following a major storm event, your insurance company will dispatch independent adjusters to your area to document all of its policyholders’ covered losses. These adjusters can come from in-state or travel from out-of-state. While most independent adjusters are hardworking and trustworthy individuals who want to do what’s best for you, it is certainly not the truth for all adjusters.
To get the most out of your engagement with an independent insurance adjuster, keep these tips in mind:
1. You are likely not the adjuster’s only claim.
Depending on the size and magnitude of the storm event, an independent adjuster can be handling anywhere from 10 – 100 individual claims at one time (sometimes more!). It’s important to make sure that when you speak to your adjuster, he or she knows exactly which claim you are inquiring about. Be sure to include your property’s address, policy number, and claim number (if you know it) so they can easily differentiate your loss from the others they are handling.
Don’t forget the old adage the squeaky wheel gets the grease. If you contact the independent adjuster on multiple occasions, it is more likely that you will get a response than if you try to contact them once and forget about it. This is not to say you should pester your adjuster for hourly follow-ups, but keeping in regular contact with your adjuster is the best way to make sure your loss isn’t being overlooked.
If your independent adjuster simply won’t make contact with you, call your insurance company and let them know. Your insurance company may instruct your adjuster to contact you, or even re-assign your loss to another independent adjuster who will do a better job of maintaining contact with you.
2. Know who you are dealing with.
Adjusters are often not employees of the insurance company. While some are employees of the insurance company, your independent adjuster is likely an employee or independent contractor of an adjusting firm, which is a separate company from your insurance company.
However, the reality is that the insurance company pays the adjusting firm, and then the adjusting firm pays the independent adjuster. So, while the independent adjuster usually works for a separate entity, his or her livelihood depends on the insurance company funneling claims to the adjusting company. An independent adjuster is supposed to put you ahead of the insurance company. Unfortunately, adjusters often do what’s best for the insurance company, rather than the policyholder. Make sure your adjuster is doing what’s best for you!
3. Ensure the adjuster documents your damage.
Make sure you show your adjuster all damaged areas of concern during the inspection. The adjuster’s photographs, in particular, are often the best evidence of your loss. During an on-site inspection, make sure you supervise the adjuster to make sure he or she is taking photographs of all the damage. If the adjuster misses any areas you believe are damaged, request that they take multiple photographs of that specific area for their file. Otherwise, the insurance company may not consider those areas.
4. Watch what you say.
As personable as some adjusters may be, it can sometimes be easy to forget that they are agents of your insurance company. It is important to keep in mind that a written or recorded statement can have severe consequences on your overall claim. For example, if the adjuster asks you about the condition of your exterior siding, and you respond with, “It’s okay,” then the insurance company is likely going to use that statement against you when deciding how much your claim is worth. Always be honest when dealing with your adjuster or the insurance company, but also do your best to not hurt your claim with an inadvertent choice of words.
5. Understand the difference between payment “recommendations” and payment “approval.”
Only in rare instances do independent adjusters have the authority to offer you a payment on the spot. Most of the time, independent adjusters make recommendations to the insurance company regarding which items the adjuster thinks the insurance company should pay for. The insurance company can then accept or reject the adjuster’s recommendations, so it is important to remember that your insurance adjuster makes a recommendation, not a promise to pay.
If you hear your independent adjuster say, “we can pay for this” or “this is not covered,” remember to take it with a grain of salt, since the adjuster’s recommendations will likely need to be approved by someone working for your insurance company.
Don’t let the insurance company or independent adjuster push you around. If you are having difficulty dealing with your independent adjuster or your insurance company, make sure you understand your rights under your insurance policy.
It is not too late to contact an attorney, so if you are having any problems with your adjuster or your overall claim, reach out to Pandit Law Firm. We can help you get your life back in order with your property claim.