In “What Is a Public Adjuster and When Do You Need One?” we suggested that policyholders ask these questions to potential public adjusters they are considering hiring:

  • Do you belong to any professional organizations, such as the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA)?
  • How many years have you worked as a public adjuster?
  • Do you specialize in certain types of insurance claims (e.g., fire damage, water damage, hurricane damage)?
  • Can you provide examples of similar claims you’ve successfully handled?
  • How do you calculate your fees? (Typical structures are a percentage of the settlement or an hourly rate.)
  • Are there any additional costs I should be aware of?
  • Will you be handling every aspect of my claim, from assessment to negotiation?
  • Can you explain the typical timeline and what to expect during the process?
  • What actions would you recommend be taken for my claim?
  • Could you provide me with references from past clients or testimonials?

I am certain that there are other questions that policyholders should inquire about before selecting the public adjuster they want to hire. In Policyholders Should Carefully Select Their Public Adjusters, I noted that policyholders with a property insurance claim should always consider hiring a public adjuster and further stated:

When hiring a public adjuster, perform due diligence and vet them properly. Make sure they are licensed. Check their credentials. Check to see if they participate in your state’s professional organizations for public adjusters. Generally, the best public adjusters are active in the field, are highly experienced, undertake continuing education, and work in leadership roles.

From the quote posted above, I would suggest that policyholders ask the following additional questions:

  • Are you licensed in this state?
  • How long has your firm been licensed?
  • How long have you individually been licensed?
  • When did you first join a national or regional public adjusting association?
  • Are you active in that association? Have you been a leader?
  • Can you provide me a CV or resume’ listing your credentials?
  • What credentials do you have from other organizations that show me that you can do this job?
  • What makes you highly experienced enough to handle my claim versus that of other public adjusters?
  • Why are you better, and what can you show me to prove it?

In Policyholders Should Carefully Check Public Adjuster Credentials Before Hiring a Public Adjuster, I made the following warning about selecting public adjusters about advertisements made on social media versus finding genuinely qualified professionals:

For policyholders, the essential question is, “Which public adjuster should I hire?” Credentials are crucial. Be wary of social media advertisements featuring public adjusters flaunting large checks. This isn’t always a sign of success. In fact, some internet-advertising public adjusters may give an illusion of expertise, playing on emotional greed purely for sales, suggesting they achieve superior outcomes. In reality, they might not be securing the best possible settlements. For instance, settling a $10 million claim for $5 million might appear impressive, but it means they missed out on half the potential settlement.

A takeaway for policyholders: The most proficient public adjusters often negotiate private settlements and maintain the confidentiality of settlement amounts. It’s the law to keep these figures private unless you agree otherwise.

Public adjusters should be committed to ongoing personal growth and improvement. I recently dined with….a member of the Rocky Mountain Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (RMAPIA) and the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA). Brett recently earned his Associate in Claims (AIC) designation and the Senior Professional Public Adjusters (SPPA) title. He shared with me that a speech I gave on choosing the right public adjuster had inspired him.

Consider this analogy: Would you trust a brain surgeon advertising your success story online, detailing your precarious health situation? Top-notch brain surgeons don’t need to advertise in such a manner. They have a long list of patients waiting for their expertise. Similarly, public adjusters showcasing large settlements online may not necessarily be the best. Their approach leans more towards appealing to greed rather than highlighting genuine credentials.

Policyholders should indeed seek out public adjusters. However, the emphasis should be on choosing those with genuine credentials and integrity rather than being swayed by mere salesmanship.

One commentator to that post noted:

I feel like this article was in response to a specific Mr. Big Shot public adjuster or a half dozen of them for that matter where we all see what they are flaunting online but those in the know, know how it’s all an act and nothing more than a sales pitch and their actual results are about as impressive as their actual resume, which is laughably minimal! It’s an excellent article that should be plastered for everyone to see and consider. The legitimate public adjusters are not trying to convince you how great they are by showing an estimate that they wrote that wasn’t even approved or if it was, wasn’t for anywhere near that number.

I have been providing and tweaking a speech, “Would You Hire You?” to various public adjuster and appraiser groups over the past year. One point that I make is that teams can be, but are not necessarily, stronger than individuals. Policyholders should try to find out who the team is and also ask:

  • Will you be handling every aspect of my claim, from assessment to negotiation?
  • Will you hire any experts on my claim, and what are their credentials?
  • How big is your firm, and will others in your firm be working on this claim?
  • What are the credentials of others in your firm who will be working on this claim?
  • Are you just the solicitor, and will you stop working on this claim after it is signed up?
  • Tell me about the team of people in your firm who will work on my claim. Can I meet them or speak with them before I sign a contract?
  • Do you hire outside non-licensed public adjusters to do any estimating of loss for real or personal property?

Finally, policyholders should ask about the contract and the amounts to be charged. Policyholders should never be pressured into signing a contract. Policyholders should know that public adjusters are expected to pay for the costs of investigating and making estimates of loss for all coverages for which they are making a claim. Engineers and technical experts are often not included in those fees. Who pays for those engineers and technical experts should always be discussed. Policyholders should ask the following:

  • How do you calculate your fees?
  • Is the percentage fee based only on the money which is paid?
  • Can you provide examples of how the fee works and what I will be charged?
  • Will you charge me for any other costs?
  • What experts do you pay for?
  • How will I pay for those experts if I do not have the money?
  • Are there any out-of-pocket expenses that I have to pay other than those noted in your contract?

I am writing this blog post because this topic has been on my mind. A prominent insurance defense attorney wrote to me over the weekend asking about a public adjuster whom I know is doing a poor job for his clients, leaving vendors unpaid and claims not settled. I am also helping a policyholder on a pro bono basis who has been duped into being overcharged and having a non-licensed person doing all the work, including negotiating her claim. These public adjusters are the exception to the rule, but I wish these policyholders had not hired those bandits in the first place.

My advice is to hire a public adjuster if you have a property insurance loss. I just want policyholders to select those who are ethical, competent, and striving to be the best they can, and among those whom other public adjusters would hire if they had a loss.

For my public adjuster friends, what questions would you ask?

Thought For The Day

I’ve always believed that if you put in the work, the results will come. I don’t do things half-heartedly. Because I know if I do, then I can expect half-hearted results.
—Michael Jordan