Every day, people make claims on their insurance policies. For most of us, it's bound to happen at some point in our lives. And in many cases, it simply means completing and returning a claims form and maybe speaking to your insurance company. But quite often, especially with higher-value claims and incidents like storm damage, you may have to deal with an adjuster – an expert working on behalf of your insurance company who assesses the value and accuracy of your claim.
There are about 300,000 adjusters in the United States. They may be employed by the insurer or work for an independent adjusting company, and you may have to deal with more than one, even for a single claim. Why you ask? Because many adjusters are specialists for particular aspects of a claim.
Understandably, many people are quite suspicious of adjusters. They may be regarded as attempting to reduce the amount you receive for your claim. And while there certainly are a handful of unscrupulous adjusters looking to keep the amount you receive for your claim as low as possible, the real aim should be to arrive at a negotiated settlement that works fairly for both sides. You can help yourself and smooth the process of dealing with a claims adjuster by following these steps:
- File your claim as promptly as possible, providing as much information as possible. When you call us to report your claim, ask for our advice if you have any questions regarding this process
- Be honest about the nature of the incident and the value of lost or damaged property or other costs.
- Prepare an inventory of affected items and don’t dispose of them (if you still have them). Gather any receipts or other evidence that establish the value of the items.
- If you don’t have records, spend time writing down what you can remember.
- Take photos of damaged items and get your own contractor or other repair/replacement information. We always recommend you deal with someone you trust to be honest and up-front with you about your damage and the expected cost to repair or replace.
- If you're seeking compensation for an injury, take time to consider the importance of consulting with a professional and obtaining their opinion.
- Keep meticulous, written records of all dealings with adjusters, including phone calls. You can record conversations as long as you inform the adjuster that you're doing so.
- Don’t accept any offer without carefully weighing your options and seeking expert advice if appropriate.
If you deal with a claims adjuster, you almost certainly won't get the chance to change your mind if you accept an offer. But, if you later discover further loss or damage that wasn't in your original claim, you can likely make a claim for that within the period specified in your policy.
Keep in mind, the advisors at Hill & Hamilton have over 100 years of combined insurance experience. We’ve handled thousands of claims so if you’re unsure or uncomfortable with anything you’ve been told by your adjuster or your insurance company, call us. We can help guide you through the process to ensure your claim is settled fairly.