What is the difference between a public adjuster and an insurance adjuster?

Insurance companies pay independent appraisers to adjust the claim on their behalf, while “public appraisers” work exclusively for the insurance policy holder. Public appraisers can work on their own or as part of a larger public appraisal company. A common fee for public appraisers is 10% of the final amount of the settlement of the claim. Unlike independent appraisers who routinely handle claims, public appraisers must request or sell their services.

Becoming a public appraiser requires a license, but it also presents some additional challenges to get started. You must pay a bond, pass a strict background check, and may be required to complete an apprenticeship period of up to one year. Public appraisers negotiate with the staff or independent appraiser assigned to a particular claim and often hire them when the claimant fears that they will not receive a fair settlement. Understanding the differences and similarities between public experts and independent experts can help you decide if you need to hire a public appraiser.

However, if you have a large or complex insurance claim, it's a good idea to go to a public appraiser who has experience handling similar claims. A well-kept secret in the insurance industry that few policyholders understand when starting the claims process is that the insurance adjuster sent by the insurance company does not work on their behalf. Insurance adjusters can present themselves as independent adjusters; however, they are hired by their insurance company. And unless you have the time, experience, and knowledge to negotiate with an insurance adjuster and deal with contractors, your claim could quickly turn into a nightmare.

According to some people who have access to certain information, insurance companies only pay part of what they actually could; if the consumer had an independent claims appraiser to represent them, they are more likely to receive more than 25 to 40%, which is typical of an average payment. A certified and licensed public appraiser is an expert in insurance claims and will defend you during or even after the claim process. The easiest way to check if someone is a licensed public appraiser is to visit the website of your state's Department of Insurance. Because of the nature of the two positions, independent and public experts are often placed in conflicting positions at the negotiating table.

The goal of a public appraiser is to help ensure that you receive the maximum amount you are entitled to under your insurance policy. Once you've hired an adjuster, don't talk to the insurance company without the adjuster present. People often associate this with major events, such as hurricanes, but that's not the only time insurers have used AI firms or independent appraisers.

Becca Snowdon
Becca Snowdon

Evil bacon junkie. General twitter trailblazer. Hipster-friendly foodaholic. Incurable twitter scholar. Amateur coffee trailblazer. Freelance music guru.

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