A PA works only for you–not an insurance company, not a roofing company, not a repair company, or general contractor. A PA is an important protection for your rights as a policyholder.
When handling your claim for property loss, insurance companies use their own licensed claims adjusters, or sometimes contract with licensed independent adjusters. Their job is to represent the insurance company’s interests. The public adjuster focuses only on your interests.
There are three types of insurance adjusters: Company adjusters who work for the insurance company; Independent adjusters, who may work for several insurance companies; and Public Adjusters, who ONLY work for the policyholder.
We firstly inspect and measure your loss, review your policy, confirm the date and type of loss, and claim appropriate loss amounts based on a thorough site inspection. We review your insurance company’s correspondence and damage estimate.
We review your policy, declaration page, and all the fine print that came with it to determine the full extent of coverage under the policy. Please note that it must be the policy that was in place on the date of loss.
We review your contractor estimates, invoices, and receipts and use these facts to ensure accuracy in our estimates. We complete our own estimate of the damages including a site inspection, measurement, count, photographs, materials costing, labor costing, and other best practices in loss estimation.
For unique claims, we can recommend retention of appropriate outside experts from our network of subject-matter specialists, such as engineers, architects, meteorologists, general contractors, electricians, and other specialty trades.
We submit a claim for damages on your behalf, including our estimate of damages and repair costs, photographs, and correspondence with the carrier regarding what is covered by your policy. We demand settlement from your carrier, and negotiate on your behalf throughout the settlement process.
We provide updates on your claim status throughout the process. We represent the policyholder only.
We need your Insurance Policy, including Declarations page that was in place at the time of the loss. This helps us advocate for recovery of insured losses.
Save photos of the damage. If only a few pictures, they can be emailed. If the quantity of photos is large, mail us a CD. We include this evidence in our claim file along with our own thorough documentation of your loss.
Send us all correspondence between you and your carrier regarding this claim. This allows us to assess how you have been treated so far, and how to handle the claim resolution.
Regarding inventory damage, provide copies of purchase receipts, cover pages of owner’s manuals, model and serial numbers of major items, and quotes if they are repairable. We can assist you in preparing an inventory of damaged contents in a spreadsheet format. This helps us prepare an accurate estimate of your damages.
We are paid a minority percentage of insurance payments issued after we became involved in your claim. The rate for adjusting services is limited by state law.
- Carefully review your insurance policy. Insurance policies can be long, detailed, and sometimes difficult to understand. Policies can change from year to year and often require that insurance claims meet specific conditions. Not meeting the conditions can result in your claim being denied or reduced payments for the property loss. A public adjuster makes sure that a claim meets all the requirements of your policy.
- Thoroughly document your loss. The public adjuster should prepare your claim, including all estimates, inventories, photographs, and other factual information that is required to prove the extent of your loss. They can inspect your property loss and submit a Notice of Loss to your insurance company.
- Work with the insurance company adjuster to agree on the proper amount owed to you. Usually, the public adjuster and company adjuster settle the claim without controversy.
Fees are negotiable, and are usually based on the size, location, and complexity of the property loss. Some public adjusters charge flat or hourly rates, but the total fee may not exceed 10% of the settlement of the claim. Much like accountants, realtors and other professional consultants, public adjusters offset their fees in the time they save their clients and in the amount of the claim recovery. The public adjuster does not receive a fee until the insurance company pays your claim.
- License: Make sure they have a current license to practice in Texas. Ask for his or her license number. If you have any concerns that it’s not a real license, before you enter into a contract:
- No conflict of interest: Beware of contractors who offer to handle your claim “for free” if you let them do the work (sometimes called “contingent agreements”). Since public adjusters must be licensed, such services are technically illegal. A professional public adjuster will prepare your claim without committing to a contractor. That leaves you free to collect your money and then decide with whom and how to spend it.
Also, beware of contractors and public adjusters who try to push you towards an attorney when there is no sign of a legal problem. Most property insurance claims can be settled if both parties act professionally.
- Experience: Public adjusters come from a wide range of backgrounds with different areas of expertise. Ask questions to make sure you select a public adjuster with experience that matches your specific loss. Feel free to ask for and talk to references.
- Professionalism: Do not sign a contract unless you’ve been given a thorough explanation of how the public adjuster will handle the claim, how they will communicate with you throughout the process, and how they will determine the fee you will pay. Never sign a blank contract.
- Comfort level: Be sure you are comfortable talking to and working with the public adjuster. It’s important for you to feel like he or she understands your needs and can communicate in a manner you’re comfortable with.
- Texas Association of Public Insurance Adjusters: TAPIA members subscribe to the highest level of professional conduct and all members adhere to a strict code of ethics. Find a list of TAPIA members on the TAPIA website mytapia.org.