There is a lot of conflicting information on the internet concerning public insurance adjusters. Some resources advocate their services, whereas others say hiring a them is not crucial to collecting on a claim and their costs will actually leave you with less money. It is important to do your homework and separate fact from opinion in order to determine the truth.
In a nutshell, public adjusters are licensed insurance claims professionals that appraise damage, prepare written estimates/documentation, and negotiate settlements on behalf of the homeowner. The difference in opinion seems to be whether or not they are worth hiring. To answer this question, we can take a look at the statistics from an independent study.
To evaluated the impact of public adjusters on insurance claims, the Office of Program Policy Analysis Government Accountability conducted an independent study on claims from Florida’s Citizens Insurance Company. The study answers a very important question about Florida public adjusters: What are the outcomes on claims processing and payments when using a public adjuster?
During the 2004/2005 hurricane season, over 300,000 homeowner insurance claims were filed with Florida’s Citizens Insurance Company. The majority of these claims were settled between the insurance company and the homeowners. However, a small portion of claims were settled using public adjuster representation.
For this study, over 76,000 claims were examined (approx 61,000 non-catastrophe and 15,000 catastrophe claims). After careful analysis, it was determined that policyholders with public adjuster representation typically received higher settlements than those who didn’t use them. If we look at claims related to the 2005 hurricanes, they achieved settlements that were (on average) 747% higher than those without representation. The study also shows more than half the catastrophe claims were re-opened by public adjusters to get clients additional compensation for their loses. This is further proof that public adjusters can get higher settlements for their clients.
If we use the figures above, the difference in settlement would be as follows:
SCENARIO A (A Homeowner with no Representation)
A homeowner experiences damage as a result of a storm, and files a claim with their insurance company. After the company adjuster visits the homeowner and appraises the damage, they give a settlement of $10,000 for the damages/loses to the homeowner
SCENARIO B (A Homeowner represented by Public Adjuster)
The same homeowner decides to hire a public adjuster, instead of trying to settle it on their own. After they appraise the damage to the home and submit the documentation for the claim, the homeowner receives a settlement of $63,495 (after a 15% fee [FL state average] paid for the adjuster’s services)
Although some might argue against the use of Florida public adjusters, statistics show they get larger settlements than those who do not use their services. This is especially noticeable with catastrophe insurance claims. The only question now is whether you want to risk a significant portion of your settlement by going against the odds and not hire one.
Collins-Gomez, Kara. “Public Adjuster Representation in Citizens Property Insurance Corporation Claims Extends the Time to Reach a Settlement and Also Increases Payments to Citizens’ Policyholders.” Office of Program Policy Analysis government Accountability, Report No. 10-06. January, 2010.