How to Deal with Insurance Adjusters

What Is the Insurance Adjusters Role?

After a fire loss, your insurance company will send out an insurance adjuster. The adjuster’s job is to assess the damage the loss has caused, determine if the loss is a partial or total loss, if there are aspects that could be repaired, and if repair or replacement would be more cost-effective, while still maintaining the integrity of the item/structure. In short, it is the adjuster’s job to assess the scope of work for the claim.

How Do You Deal with Insurance Adjusters?

Ensuring you are present for your adjuster’s walk-through of the home to assess the loss is imperative. This is a personal experience for you, ensuring your adjuster assess all the details is important. Of course, this is their job, but there may be questions, concerns, or decisions they make that you’ll want to discuss, verify, or provide additional detail on. For example, if a quilt was damaged by smoke, the adjuster may determine it will be more cost-effective to replace the quilt rather than incur the expense of trying to clean/repair it. However, the quilt in question may be a family heirloom that’s been passed down for generations and is irreplaceable. In this circumstance, it’s important that you’re present when the adjuster walks through so you can voice your concerns regarding the quilt and explain its significance.

Can You Negotiate with Adjusters?

Of course, when it comes to determining the scope of a claim, an adjuster’s opinion may differ greatly from that of the homeowner. Can you negotiate with your adjuster? Yes, you can; as outlined in the quilt example, stating your case, outlining why you feel differently and discussing details with your adjuster is all part of the process.

What Do Insurance Adjusters Look For?

When assessing the scope of a claim, it is the adjuster’s responsibility to assess what damages were incurred, and what is the most effective way to correct the damage. Taking structural integrity and safety into consideration, the adjuster will determine if the loss is a partial or total loss, if there are elements that can be repaired rather than replaced, and what the most safe and cost-effective course of action will be.

Issues in Dealing with Your Adjuster?

If you have any issues dealing with your adjuster, generally your agent or broker can act as a buffer. If you still feel like your needs are not being addressed by the adjuster provided, there is an option to seek legal counsel, or to hire a public adjuster for a second opinion; keep in mind, these options are costly and will be at the homeowner’s own expense.

It is true that adjusters work for the insurance company and it is their job to keep costs as low as possible; however, it is also their job to ensure the insurance company’s end of the homeowner’s policy contract is upheld in good faith.  Adjusters are required to uphold legal and ethical standards and complete their job as efficiently as possible with all parties’ best interest in mind. Be patient and fair with your adjuster and you should receive the same treatment in kind.

Visit the Douglas Residential Cost Guide to calculate your replacement cost and ensure you’re armed with an accurately estimated cost figure in the event of a total or partial loss.