Public insurance adjusters are somewhat similar to traditional insurance adjusters and independent adjusters, with some small nuances and one main difference — their employer. Almost all insurance companies usually have their own adjusters, employees of the company referred to as staff adjusters. From time to time, insurance companies also use independent adjusters as contractors. These are usually during times of high volume or catastrophe. Both staff adjusters and independent insurance adjusters report to the insurance company and are legally bound to the company, not the policy holder or claimant.
A public insurance adjuster is not employed by the insurance company but by an independently operated company or consulting group, or he may be self-employed. A public insurance adjuster works on behalf of a policyholder or claimant. These adjusters often will come in to negotiate or find a fair value for damage. They work directly with the insurance company so the insured does not have to do so.
Public adjusters most often charge a percentage of the settlement as their fee. The percentage may vary, depending on the size of the loss and whether it is clear the company will pay the claim. Some adjusters will not take a claim if there is a chance the claim will not be paid.
In late 2010, 44 of the 50 U.S. states have laws regarding a public insurance adjuster license. Each jurisdiction will vary as to the specific public insurance adjuster training and requirements. Many of these adjusters previously worked for an insurance company and already have some of the background necessary to quickly get a license. Some public adjuster companies will pay for training.
The duties of a public insurance adjuster vary depending on each specific loss, though there are some duties that exist in all scenarios. These adjusters must have great customer service skills. Policyholders and claimants want someone on their side; they want to make sure they are secure, respected and cared for. Public insurance adjusters will also need to be able to review an insurance policy and determine coverage. This should be one of the first steps they take to make sure there is coverage available, because there is no claim without coverage.
The next step is evaluating the loss. Most public adjusters handle property and business claims, rather than casualty and health claims, so these adjusters are out at the site of the damage, inspecting vehicles, reviewing all documents and aspects of each loss. They must know how to inspect a property or car and be very hands-on during the inspection process. The adjuster will then need to evaluate the damage for worth, determining business interruption, values and any extra expenses. This information is compiled into a report on behalf of the insured that is presented to the insurance company for review and consideration.
If there are any discrepancies, the public insurance adjuster will negotiate the claim with the company's adjuster. During all of the processes, the public adjuster needs to stay in contact with the insured and keep that person apprised of the status of the claim. Once an agreement is reached, the adjuster will take his portion of the settlement. If the claim is re-opened for any reason, including additional findings or damage, the public adjuster will step back in to address any concerns and review. Public adjusters are at all times working on behalf of the insured.