FAQ - Common Questions about Arizona’s Best Public Insurance Adjusters - AJR
I just discovered my property has damage from (fire, wind, water, hail, theft, etc.), when is the best time to enlist the help of a Public Adjuster?
Upon discovering your property has damage it’s best to contact AJR immediately so we can help you report your claim. Delay in engaging our services, puts the amount that you're entitled to recover at risk. Always wanting to put your best information forward, contacting AJR immediately is to your benefit. Your interest and the insurance company's interest are not the same. Commercials indicate that the insurance companies have your back; this might not always be the case. Many times insurance carrier’s claim centers ask tricky questions to potentially confuse policyholders into saying things which may compromise coverage on their claim. As the saying goes “anything you say, can and will be used against you”. To protect yourself against these errors, it’s best to contact a Public Adjuster at the first sign of damage to your home or business. The Public Adjuster will gather all the correct pertinent information and help report the claim in a timely efficient manner to the carrier.
The insurance company sent out an adjuster, why do I need a Public Adjuster?
There are three types of adjusters, a company adjuster who the insurance company has on staff. An independent adjuster, who the insurance company hires. The insurance company pays them to handle their claims and protect their interests. A Public Adjuster is the only adjuster who is the policyholder’s advocate. The Public Adjuster works only for the policyholder, representing their interest and maximizing the claim for the insured, not minimizing for the insurance company.
How do I find a good Public Adjuster in my area?
You want to make sure you hire an experienced licensed Public Adjuster. All Public Adjusters must hold an active license in the state. A Public Adjuster with many years of experience is valuable, as they have seen many things in the industry. The adjuster should have good valid references with whom you can speak to about their experiences. NAPIA – The National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters is the oldest/largest professional organization for this industry. On their website you can find many helpful links.
The insurance company and their adjuster say that hiring a public adjuster will delay and slow down the process?
Think about it, the insurance company makes out better if you are not on a level playing field with them. They use lingo special to the insurance industry that you may not fully understand. Hiring your own expert will not slow down the process actually it puts you in the same league as the insurance adjuster. Insurance contracts can be a confusing mix of words, leaving policyholders unsure of what coverage’s actually may be. Though your insurance agent placed your coverage, their allegiance is to the insurance company. Additionally they might not be able to clarify to your satisfaction the questions you may have.
If you were called to the IRS for an audit, would you take an accountant with you to represent your interests? Why would you deal with an insurance company's professional adjuster, without someone to professionally represent your interests?
What’s the best way to level the playing field in claims?
Claim adjusting is a really specialized industry. It is not just putting numbers to the paper and receiving all you have asked for. There is negotiation involved in the process and preparing the claim to put you in the best situation for this negotiation. Relying on your insurance company to calculate the amount of damage and honestly putting forth what you are owed, you are not likely to recover a full fair settlement.
Insurance companies who are in the business to turn a profit send out their adjuster who will possibly value damages to your property differently than you. Many times they make a decision you are not covered for some of your damages. Often times their offer will not even come close to the value needed to restore the damaged property.
This is where an experienced expert, Arizona’s Best Public Adjuster AJR, will help put you in the same ballpark as the insurance company.
Who at the firm will personally handle my claim?
Many times companies send out solicitors to “sign up” losses. In times of desperation many people engage in services they later realize might not have been in their best interests. The solicitors who sign the claim up generally are not the ones who handle the claims. You always want to make sure you know who will be personally handling your claim. You want to feel comfortable with that person, their level of experience and their demeanor. They will be your representation with the insurance company and you need to feel comfortable that you have someone putting your best foot forward in negotiations.
Who does my insurance company speak with after I hire a public adjuster?
Once you sign a contract with a Public Adjuster, they will notify your insurance company. At this point all correspondence will be directed towards the public adjuster. The public adjuster should continuously keep you informed and updated of all correspondence and make you aware of the progress of your claim.
The insurance company sent out a mitigation company to help with the clean-up, should I always just use this company?
Mitigation/Restoration companies sent out by the insurance company are beholden to the insurance company. Their bread-and-butter business comes directly from the insurance company; it is not in their best interests to protect you and your concerns with your claim. AJR works with many restoration/mitigation companies who have one job to satisfy their clients not the insurance company. Insurance companies send out their own preferred contractor whose job it is to define the scope of damage and estimate costs for repair. These companies as stated previously are measuring the loss for the insurance company not for YOU. Their job is to protect the financial goals of the insurance company not protect your goals as the policyholder.
The mitigation/restoration company wants me to sign and hire them to repair my property and sign a power of attorney stating they can talk with my insurance company about my claim, should I?
The only licensed professional’s to represent a policyholder with an insurance claim is a state licensed Public Adjuster or a lawyer. The benefit of hiring a Public Adjuster over a lawyer is number one it does not make economic sense. Number two is the daily experience the Public Adjuster has in this field. Lawyers are qualified to do this work, but generally this is not the only work they do. Public Adjusters review and handle claims 365 days a year and stay current with education on new laws/rules to adjusting.
Contractors, Mitigation Companies, Restoration companies are not authorized to represent you in insurance claim negotiations, nor are they professionally licensed or regulated by your state insurance department/agency to do so.
No one should ever request a power of attorney be signed over, BIG RED FLAG. Public Adjusters have state licensed contracts clients must sign. These are determined by the state.
The insurance company is offering to pay out immediately. Why would this be a problem?
Insurance companies lead you to believe that a quick payout is in your best interests. Policyholders will be more satisfied and look favorably on the carrier. BIG MISTAKE. What looks like great customer service may actually be an attempt to settle a claim and convince you to settle for less money due to stress you are under and just a desire to “finish the claim”. We recommend taking your time and making sure you are completely protected. Don’t feel rushed or sign anything until you understand all ramifications of your claim.
My damage is extensive, how can I be sure to recover all my damages?
Severe property damage creates all kinds of complicated issues. Coverage’s you are due under your policy and damage you can’t see may be missed. Experience professional help ensures you will not miss damages that can be submitted as part of your claim.
What should I do if my insurance carrier delays the claim?
Insurance carriers are required to respond to you and process your claim in a specified period of time when certain conditions are met. The public adjuster understands these nuances and can assist with this. If you are getting the run-around with your claim, seek immediate help from an expert in this field.
How do I pay for the Public Adjuster services, will my insurance company pay for this?
The Public Adjuster is paid on a contingency fee basis. Be careful when you are interviewing adjusters, this fee should not be more than 25%. The fee you agree to pay is dependent upon the size, type of loss and status of the loss. The amount the adjuster is paid comes from the proceeds you receive from the insurance company. The contract you sign is between you and the adjuster not the insurance company. The adjuster with their knowledge and experience are better suited to maximize your claim and get a better return than trying to handle a claim without their professional advice.
What if I can’t agree with my insurance company as to the final $ amount of my claim?
If the dollar offer the insurance company is making is too low to cover your repairs or losses, there is a clause in every policy called the appraisal clause. This is when you, the policyholder demand an appraisal, which is similar to arbitration in other fields. Each side chooses an appraiser then agrees on an umpire. Each appraiser states the value of the property and amount of loss. If they cannot agree, decision goes to the umpire. Two out of three binds the award. A Public Adjuster is fully capable to act as your appraiser if this situation arises.
Is a Public Adjuster an attorney? Can’t I just hire an attorney to represent me?
This is a common question and NO Public Adjusters are not attorneys. They are state licensed professionals whose sole job is to represent policyholders with insurance claim negotiations with insurance company. Knowledge is important; this is the only industry Public Adjusters engage in. Their experience matched with information gained over years puts public adjusters in the best position to negotiate your claim. There is a monetary consideration when deciding whom to engage to represent your best interests with a claim.
There may be times an attorney is needed if legal issues arise in your claim. Denial of claim, and bad faith are two examples of conditions that require an attorney representation.
I have already settled my claim and now discover there are additional damages I was not aware of; can I get a public adjuster involved now?
As long as you did not sign a full and final release, YES you can engage a public adjuster. You may be required to sign a proof of loss or partial proof of loss, in order to receive some check from the insurance company. There are also statute of limitations that you need to be aware of that may apply to your claim.
Do they raise my rates if I file a claim?
There are many factors that are included in rate determination. Your rates aren’t guaranteed to rise or even be dropped by the insurance company if you do file a claim. With that in mind, it is not recommended to file claims for every small loss that occurs to your property. It may work against you in the future; if insurance companies see you consistently file claims for minor damages. We buy insurance to protect us in time of a loss. If you are unsure whether to file a claim or not, give AJR a call. We will discuss your situation and help you decide the best course of action to move forward with.
My insurance company has sent me a check what do I do? It is not enough money to fix the damages.
At this point, please reach out to a licensed, experienced Public Adjuster. Evaluation of the policy and documenting papers needs to be made to determine if you are giving up all future rights if you deposit this check. AJR does not charge a fee to come and evaluate your particular situation any step along the way.
Should I ask for references of the Public Adjuster?
A quality licensed Public Adjuster should be able to provide at least three references for you to speak with about their claim. When speaking with the references a few good questions to ask are:
- If you had another disaster would you hire this public adjuster again?
- Do you feel the fee you paid was worth the service you received?
- After you signed the contract, was the same adjuster involved with your claim or did someone else take over at the firm?
- How long did it take to settle the claim?
- Was your settlement enough to restore the property to prior condition?
- Were you able to get enough money to replace all of your personal property?
- Did the Public Adjuster keep you abreast of all that was happening in your claim?
- Did the Public Adjuster take your phone calls in a timely manner?