Why You Need Our Help
Insurance Attorneys Vs. Public Adjusters – Part 1
You have just experienced property damage and loss resulting from a fire, wind, water, vandalism or other perils. You contact your insurance company to file a claim. That’s just the beginning. The insurance company advises that it will have an adjuster contact you. The next thing you know, you get contacted by a Public Insurance Adjuster (“PA”).
Let us be clear, a PA is not associated with your insurance company. Although their title seems to infer that they are agents of your insurance company, they are not. Truth be told, you and a PA have equal clout with your insurance company. Although PA’s will tell you that they understand your insurance policy better than you will, and that might be true, PA’s are not attorneys. They are not licensed to practice law and certainly not qualified to give you legal advice. Moreover, it is illegal for PA’s to give legal advice.
Public Insurance Adjusters are eager to have you sign a contract allowing them to manage your insurance claim. They will tell you that there are difficulties in dealing with your insurance company. They tell you that your insurance policy is a difficult document to understand, and without their expertise, you will be taken advantage of by your insurance company. They tell you that their fee is “contingent” on how much money you collect from your insurance company. They only get paid if you get paid. Usually PA’s charge somewhere around nine (9%) percent of the amount you recover from your insurance company. Although we know of some PA’s that charge a higher percentage, nine (9%) percent seems to be the going rate.
Although nine (9%) percent may seem nominal, keep in mind that most Public Insurance Adjuster contracts obligate the insured to pay the same percentage on monies the insurance company pays voluntarily. In other words, if the insurance company declares your loss to be of a certain amount, the PA gets a percentage of that money before a finger is lifted.
I generally encourage prospective clients not to hire anyone right after a loss. If your claim is legitimate, your insurance company will pay you some amount towards the loss. It seems senseless to pay a percentage of what the insurance company voluntarily pays you. On the other hand, if or when your insurance company declares your loss not to be covered or only partially covered, then it’s time to contact a lawyer, not a PA. The reason is simple. PA’s are not licensed to practice law. They cannot help you force the insurance to pay more for a loss.
One of the frequent complaints we hear from clients who previously hired Public Adjusters is that the contract they signed requires them to pay the Public Adjuster a percentage of proceeds that they didn’t recover. For example, if the insurance company decides to cut off benefits, the public adjuster has no recourse other than to recommend retaining an attorney. Nevertheless, the Public Adjuster will generally continue to expect to receive a percentage of what is recovered by the attorney.
Public insurance adjusters are not lawyers. They have no ability to challenge your insurance company when it says that your claim or part of your claim is not covered. Public Adjusters only get paid if your insurance company agrees to pay. If your insurance company agrees to pay, it seems pointless to hire a public adjuster.
It’s good to know that insurance attorneys have the qualifications to help you get the insurance you need where others cannot. It’s important that you have an attorney who can answer your insurance questions and concerns. That way, you’ll feel more confident in their ability to help you in your specific case.