Home Damaged? Should You Call an Insurance Lawyer or a Public Adjuster?

Home Damaged

What do you do after your home has suffered colossal damage? Most people will have an emotional response, which is only natural given how important our homes are. After they have gathered themselves, they will start working on the insurance-related paperwork.

Some people buy home insurance and then assume they’ll be fully covered in the event of a disaster. Sadly, they only learn that this isn’t so after it’s too late. Who is the right person to call?

Let’s look at what insurance adjusters, public adjusters, and insurance lawyers do for people in this situation.

What Do Insurance Adjusters Do?

Insurance adjusters are sent by the insurance company to assess and verify the details of the claim in the wake of a flood or fire to a home. They will evaluate the extent of the structural damage, seek proof of the cost of any property damaged, and review any receipts related to additional living expenses incurred after the disaster, such as takeout or gas.

If they cannot determine the cost of the structural damage themselves, they may hire a contractor to arrive at one for them. There isn’t really a legal protocol they must follow here, which can cause confusion and disagreement between you and the insurance adjuster.

Insurance adjusters are the main point of contact between a claimant and the insurance company, but it’s important to remember that the insurance adjuster works for the insurance company, either directly as an employee or on a freelance basis. They will often advocate for their interests, which are necessarily against yours. The less the insurance company has to pay out, the lower the settlement you’ll get, and the adjuster is incentivized to report the costs as low as possible. This often means that what they are quoting for is not of comparable quality to what you had in your home.

Public Adjuster

Public adjusters work for the policyholder, not the insurance company, though they all undergo the same licensing process. Public adjusters in Canada may be self-employed or work with a firm, though some independent adjusters may work for the insurer in some cases.

A public adjuster’s role involves ensuring your paperwork is submitted properly. They may bring in experts to argue that the insurance company undervalued your damaged property or structural damage. If it’s at issue, they can also help negotiate the terms of the settlement.

Insurance Lawyers

Those wondering how an insurance lawyer can assist you need to understand that they do what a public adjuster does and then some. Insurance lawyers are by your side at each step of the process, starting with ensuring you understand your policy in full.

If the adjuster or the company is being unreasonable, insurance lawyers help you push back. They can recognize all the industry’s pressure tactics a mile off and help you steer clear. For example, sometimes, companies try to get the policyholder to agree to a Final Proof of Loss before releasing any advanced funds. They hope you are so desperate for money now that you’ll accept a lower total.

Not only can insurance lawyers help you recognize and fight back in such circumstances, but insurance companies are usually less likely to even try such subterfuge if they know you have an insurance lawyer by your side.

If you need to take the insurance company to court over a dispute or denial in your claim, a public adjuster can’t represent you, but an insurance lawyer can. More often than not, insurance companies are trying to pay out claims less and less. This means that they may investigate your claim in more detail before agreeing to provide coverage. This may involve a formal questioning period, where an insurance lawyer can represent you and help you prepare.

Hopefully, disaster doesn’t strike your home. But if it does, understanding the role insurance professionals play should help you get the right insurance coverage and legal representation when you need it most.

Img Credit: Yevhen Sukhenko via Pexels

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