How to Work with an Independent Insurance Adjuster
Any time you make a home insurance claim, you’re going to be dealing with an insurance adjuster. In the event of flooding, fire damage, smoke damage, and natural disasters, insurance companies will likely send an adjuster to assess the extent of the damage and recommend how much the insurer should offer as a settlement to you, the policy holder.
Dealing with insurance adjusters can feel stressful and overwhelming, especially when you’re dealing with smoke or fire damage in the aftermath of a tragic loss. It helps to know who they are, what their job is, and how you can deal with them.
Who Are Home Insurance Adjusters?
In many cases, an insurance company will have an in-house insurance adjuster handle your claim. In others, they may use an independent adjuster.
An independent home insurance adjuster is a third party contracted by the insurer to investigate your insurance claim. Their job is to:
- Assess the extent of the physical damage to the structure of the home;
- Determine how much damage the insurance company is responsible for covering;
- Work with contractors to get a scope of work and/or an estimate for the cost of structural repairs;
- Assess the extent of the damage to personal contents an evaluate a reasonable course of action for restoration and/or replacement;
- Assess additional living expenses, for example, by reviewing receipts;
- Negotiate your claim.
Tips for Dealing with Insurance Adjusters
If you make a claim and you have to work with the insurance adjuster, there are a few things you should know that might make the process easier:
- Keep records of everything, including receipts for additional living expenses such as hotel stays or takeout while you are not at home,
- Document everything, including structural damage, damage to personal belongings, etc., before removing them from the site or beginning clean-up and repair,
- Don’t settle for an offer you feel is too low: you can talk to a public insurance adjuster or an attorney if you disagree with the offer, and
- Be careful about what you say to the adjuster or provide in a written statement, as the insurance company can use these statements to impact your final payout.
Handling a Disagreement
Although adjusters are often brought in to provide the insurer with an accurate picture of the damages, the insurer’s offer may not include everything you might be entitled to. For example, they may suggest repairing damaged belongings rather than replacing them, or offering less than what you’ve been quoted for the structural work.
Should a disagreement come up, getting someone to help you negotiate can save you time and ultimately get you a fairer settlement. If you find yourself disagreeing with the adjuster in your negotiations, there are professionals available who can guide you through the process and assist you with your claim.
Examinations Under Oath
Finally, a home insurance adjuster has the right to demand an examination under oath with the policyholder. The adjuster may request an EUO if they believe that the cause of the loss (such as a fire) was deliberate or that some kind of insurance fraud is going on. They may also request an EUO simply as a matter of due diligence.
At the end of the day, insurance adjusters are professionals who are hired by insurers to provide an accurate account of the damages and the insurer’s responsibilities. Nevertheless, you should still be vigilant about making sure your best interests are being looked after when dealing with them.