What is a Public Adjuster?
747% More Money, that’s what! An OPPAGA report indicated that using a Public Adjuster gets policyholders an astounding 747% higher payout than filing a claim without representation.
OPPAGA- The Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) is an office of the Legislature. OPPAGA provides data, evaluative research, and objective analyses to assist legislative budget and policy deliberations. See full report Here.
But exactly what is a Public Adjuster or P.A.?
A Public Adjuster is the option no insurance company will tell you about. They are licensed insurance professionals that work for the public to represent policyholders when they’ve experienced damages or a loss. They are highly regulated by the state in which they practice, who make sure that the P.A. is operating according to state standards and statutes. In the state of Florida, Public Adjusters must not only finish an insurance course and pass a state administered bar, but comply with fingerprinting and background checks, be bonded for $50,000, and then apprentice under another licensed Public Adjuster for an entire year.
What’s the difference between the Insurance company’s adjuster and a Public Adjuster?
Insurance companies have their own adjusters that they send out to assess the legitimacy of an insurance claim, they are called Staff Adjusters or Independent Adjusters. They are very different from Public Adjusters. The first and most obvious difference is that they work for the Insurance company and NOT the policyholder. Public Adjusters work only for the public and are paid by the public, not the insurance company. They are also different in that it is much more difficult to become a state licensed Public Adjuster than a standard staff adjuster or independent adjuster. One major difference is the apprenticeship. Staff and Independent adjusters are not required to apprentice for a year or any set amount of time as a trainee. The motive is different, the program is different, the testing is different, and of course the state license and regulation is different. A Staff or Independent can become a Public Adjuster, but they have to concede to all of the requirements and relinquish their current license as a Staff or Independent Adjuster. They cannot represent both the Insurance Company and the property owner because that would obviously be a major conflict of interest. Staff and Independent Adjusters can often be one-sided, biased, and nit-picky, scrutinizing the damages to avoid awarding proper payment, or denying legitimate claims all together. The Insurance company they work for keeps record of how much they’re paying out, and if it reaches a certain number, their job could be in jeopardy. So, they’re pressured to keep their claim payouts as low as possible, to save the insurance company money. Public Adjusters are there to tip the balance scale back the other way, to look out for the interest of the policyholder. No longer are you left at the mercy of a job-scared biased party. A P.A. can be hired by you, the insured, to assess the claim, negotiate with the insurance company, and sometimes go to court (as an expert witness) to resolve your claim and get you the money you deserve for restoration of damages.
How do I choose the right Public Adjuster (P.A.)?
Make sure the Public Adjuster you choose is indeed carrying a license and bond from the state. You can easily find out if your P.A. is licensed and bonded by calling your state department of insurance, or visiting their website. Your Public Adjuster should provide you with their license number for this purpose.
References and Reviews.
You want someone that is knowledgeable and experienced, so ask for references, and work history. Check online reviews and Ask around town! Not just about the service of the company, but about the P.A. himself (or herself). Sometimes it helps to know what type of reputation the person has. P.A.s are like any other profession, there are bad apples out there that you’re better off avoiding.
To make sure that you haven’t chosen some fly by night adjuster who’s not invested a lot of thought or time into their business, it helps to find out if they are members of any business organizations, such as their local Chamber of Commerce, or any other Public Adjusting Associations. This also gives you a starting point if you want to call someone to ask about the company.
Adjusters are supposed to be professionals; your P.A. should speak, act, and dress professionally, return phone calls in a timely manner, and be willing to answer questions you may have. To obtain the services of a P.A., cost should range from 8% to 25% of your total claim. Anything higher or lower than those amounts may be a red flag as to whether or not you’ve hired the right P.A.. The contract you’ve signed should have a disclaimer explaining how long you have to terminate the contract, if you find you need to cancel.
How do I find a P.A.?
Look no further! Noble Public Adjusting Group, as you will surely find has everything on the list of finding “the right P.A.”. But to be fair, you should do some research for yourself. The internet is the best source for finding a P.A. that represents clients in your area. As you begin researching, you’ll find that most P.A. firms are located in large cities, and have a multitude of clients. You want to try to use a firm, or Independent P.A. who has a lot of business, but is not overwhelmed. Knowing that a P.A. has a secretary or supportive staff is re-assuring. There should be adequate time for focused attention on each client. Noble P.A. Group has a branch out policy in place that enables our P.A.s to focus on a minimal amount of clients at one time, by limiting the number and hiring more qualified adjusters or office staff when numbers exceed the set amount.
Our pay comes directly from the money the insurance company awards, so there’s no out of pocket expense. Based on contingency, our fee is 20% of the claim total, unless your claim is a result of a declared state of emergency in which it becomes 10%.