What is an Insurance Adjuster, and Should You Hire One?

After a hurricane as powerful as Harvey, everyone buckles down and gets to work fixing their homes, neighborhoods, and property to get back to our normal lives as quickly as possible. Some things are doable as soon as you see them, such as fixing parts of a fence or cleaning up debris. However, with time, you will come to more difficult repairs, such as fixing walls, floors and the structural parts of the house, which most of us usually seek a professional to fix. Usually the first step here is to contact your insurance company and file a claim for whatever your damages are worth. This is trickier to do than most would assume, and so this is where an insurance adjuster comes in.

An insurance adjuster is a professional who is trained to perform a multitude of assessments surrounding insurance claims on behalf of policyholders and/or insurance companies. They assess damages from flood, fire, smoke, wind and hurricane damage, as well as damage from other catastrophes. They can go so far as to assess and evaluate the damage a hurricane or flood has done on business income. In the case for those of us in Houston and along the Gulf Coast, most would seek public insurance adjusters (the ones who are on your side rather than the side of the insurance companies).

Public insurance adjusters, as opposed to company or independent adjusters, are the only insurance adjusters that work on behalf of the policyholder rather than the insurance company. They will assess and evaluate the damages incurred, and put together a detailed and accurate claim, specific to your situation, and send that to your insurance company.

The big questions for most people at this point are: “Do I need one?” and “How much does it cost?” If you’re looking to file an insurance claim, it is strongly advisable to hire a public insurance adjuster. It’s commonplace for public adjusters to visit damaged property free of charge. The adjuster will discuss the severity of the damage and what exactly it means for your claim going forward. The adjuster gets paid after you do — they’ll take a cut of what the insurance company pays out to you after you’ve filed a claim with the help of the adjuster. This cut should not exceed 10 percent, in accordance with Texas law.

A big thing to remember while working with insurance companies is that payouts are part of their job and are not considered charity. An insurance company will rarely, if at all, give you more money than you asked for or are owed. If they did, it was probably a mistake. Hiring a public insurance adjuster is one of the safer ways to make sure you get what you’re owed and what you need in order to restore you home to the same, or even better quality than it was before Harvey.

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