A question I often hear from prospective clients is whether I believe it is necessary for them to hire an attorney or public adjuster at that particular time. Most insurance claimants only have one or two insurance claims over the course of their life and are therefore unfamiliar with the process. This is one reason a public adjuster should be retained at the outset of a claim. Your interests and the interests of your insurance carrier are not aligned. Despite what the commercials say, you are not in good hands and you are not going to be treated like a good neighbor. A public adjuster is experienced when it comes to handling insurance claims and can efficiently guide you through the process.
Another very important reason to retain a public adjuster at the outset is so you can get an early estimate of your damages. A secret of the insurance industry is they use proprietary software to estimate claims (usually Xactimate).
This program is also used by public adjusters. Often the process works like this; the claim is reported, the carrier sends their adjuster out who writes a low estimate. The policyholder is not happy with that estimate and then retains a public adjuster who comes in and writes an accurate estimate. The two estimates are now worlds apart and that leads to larger fights. However, if you involve a public adjuster before the carrier writes their initial estimate two things can happen. First, the public adjuster can write the accurate estimate and they can then provide the Xactimate data file to the carrier’s adjuster. Second, the public adjuster will accompany the carrier’s adjuster during their inspection and can point out damage that may have been overlooked by the carrier if they were along. The carrier adjuster leaves the inspection with a digital copy of the estimate (that they can use to create their own estimate) and a thorough understanding of the scope of the damage. Nine times out of ten, this will lead to a more accurate initial estimate from the carrier which will eliminate the need for numerous claim supplements and lead to a much faster resolution of the claim.
Therefore, once you realize you have damage to your property covered by your insurance policy, your first call should be to the carrier to report your claim. Your second call should be to a public adjuster to assist you in the claim.