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Should I hire a public claims adjuster?

By Nathan Guss|4 min|February 2023

When filing a home insurance claim, when do you need to hire a claims adjuster? This article explains the difference between a claims adjuster and a public claims adjuster and covers when you should consider hiring the latter

Most people have never heard of a claims adjuster, but they become a crucial person in your life when disaster strikes your home. Assigned by your carrier, he or she will assess the damage and propose a settlement based on your policy. An even less well-known professional, the public claims adjuster, can play an equally important role. He or she guides you through the process of filing a claim.

What’s the difference between a claims adjuster and a public claims adjuster?

A claims adjuster works for an insurance company. Playing the same role, an independent claims adjuster is hired by insurers when they don’t have a claims adjuster available in your area.

On the other hand, a public claims adjuster works for you, and you pay his or her fees.

All types of adjusters must meet the same licensing requirements, which are set by individual provinces and territories. As part of this process, they both must complete courses offered by the Insurance Institute of Canada to develop their expertise in the field.

To sum it up:

  • Insurers pay for claims adjusters’ services.
  • You pay for a public claims adjuster’s services.
  • Both are subject to the same licensing requirements.

When do you need a claims adjuster?

Both types of adjusters play complementary roles.

A claims adjuster’s job is to evaluate the insurance company’s liability and prevent fraud. They have a complex set of tasks, including interviewing you, arranging temporary housing, coming up with estimates, analyzing your insurance policy, coordinating construction work and negotiating a settlement.

A public claims adjuster deals with aspects of the claims process that you would otherwise be responsible for:

  • Making an inventory of lost goods
  • Handling paperwork
  • Keeping you up-to-date on the status of your file
  • Helping you make sound decisions
  • Serving as a liaison between you, the insurance company, lawyers, witnesses, etc.
  • Negotiating with the insurance company

When is it the best choice for you?

Whether hiring a claims adjuster makes sense depends on your situation. With a routine claim, you probably won’t need outside assistance. Moreover, some claimants prefer taking care of the entire claim and settlement process themselves. Others prefer to delegate all or some of those tasks.

When you have a large claim, such as the total loss of your home, hiring a claims adjuster can be helpful. He or she will save you the many hours of paperwork and discussions. This can lessen the load when you are already dealing with the hectic, stressful situation of property loss or damages.

When evaluating whether you can afford a public claims adjuster, keep in mind they have varied approaches to billing: some charge by the hour or a flat rate while others take a percentage of the settlement.

You may want to consider a claims adjuster in the following situations:

  • It fits your budget.
  • You’ve suffered major damages.
  • You lack the time and energy to deal with your claim.
  • You want to avoid costly mistakes.
  • You need help negotiating with your insurer.
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