Any situation in which a small business owner needs to file an insurance claim is likely already stressful. It might be a fire, a hurricane, a break-in, or another type of adverse event, but one thing is for sure: It’s a lot more difficult for a small business owner to go it alone in the business insurance claims process. A public adjuster is an insurance professional who policyholders hire to help them file and settle an insurance claim. The public adjuster’s job is to represent the business owner’s interests and help them get the maximum settlement from the insurance company. Below, we’ll explore five reasons that adjusters can often get higher settlements for businesses and make the process easier along the way.
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Public adjusters work for the policyholder, not the insurance company.
A public adjuster is bound by the law and the rules of their profession to represent their client’s interests. In many U.S. states, they’re also covered by a public adjuster bond that guarantees they’ll fulfill their obligation to their clients. In short, public adjusters, by law, work for your business during the claims process.
These services are important for businesses because the insurance company has adjusters of its own, called corporate or independent adjusters, who represent its interests. These adjusters will work to minimize the amount of money that the insurance company is required to pay out. They may even try to find a way for the insurance company to deny your claim entirely.
This is a completely normal and legal practice that every insurance company engages in. Thus, if your business doesn’t have an adjuster working on your claim, you’re starting at a huge disadvantage against a company that has a staff of trained professionals working to minimize the settlement you get.
Public adjusters have the expertise to understand complex insurance policies.
Most small business owners don’t have the specialized knowledge to understand the ins and outs of a business insurance policy, especially in terms of how it interacts with state and local insurance laws. This knowledge gap is another reason that insurance companies start with an advantage in negotiations with small business owners.
A public adjuster, on the other hand, specializes in understanding insurance policies and the relevant laws. Most states require licensing classes and/or an apprenticeship with experienced professional adjusters as part of the process for becoming a public adjuster, with the result that good public adjusters have an extensive knowledge of insurance law and case precedents.
When your business hires a public adjuster, the adjuster will use their expert knowledge of insurance policies and claims to get you the maximum settlement that the insurance company owes you. They’ll independently investigate your claim, determine how it aligns with your insurance policy, and use the results of their investigation to negotiate your settlement.
Public adjusters help make the claims easier to understand.
Filing an insurance claim can be a long and sometimes difficult process, especially for larger and more complex claims. Without a professional helping you to navigate the process, you could be vulnerable to making mistakes in your claim filing that could—at best—drag out the process, or at worst result in a lower settlement check or denied claim.
A qualified public adjuster can help your business work through the challenges of filing a claim and advise you on best practices to ensure that your claim is accurate and legally sound. They’ll make sure you include all of the must-have documentation that proves your claim, and they’ll keep you updated throughout the process.
If these services sound like a luxury, you might not be experienced with just how difficult it can be to deal with the bureaucracy of an insurance company. When you work with an adjuster, there’s always someone on your side who you can call when your insurance tries to reduce your settlement, sends you a form you don’t understand, or otherwise puts you in a tough situation.
Public adjusters typically don’t require an upfront fee.
Many public adjusters work on contingency rather than taking payment upfront. That means that the adjuster is compensated with an agreed-upon portion of the eventual settlement from the insurance company, rather than an upfront payment from the policyholder.
The contingency basis is important for a few reasons. For one, it makes it easier for businesses that have limited financial resources to get started with filing a claim. In addition, it gives adjusters a powerful incentive to use all of their resources in advocating for their clients because their income depends on it.
If you’re unsure about whether hiring a public adjuster is a good idea for you, look for an adjuster who works on contingency. Working with an adjuster whose payment is linked to their performance can help set your mind at ease, and it can lighten the financial pressure that many businesses are under during the insurance claims process.
Public adjusters help businesses get back on their feet more quickly.
As a small business owner, you want your claim settled as quickly as possible, but you also don’t want to leave money on the table that the insurance company owes you. A public adjuster will help you do both, and improve your business’s ability to start functioning again in the process.
Experienced public adjusters know how to move a claim through the insurance company’s process. They know who to contact when the claim hits a snag, and they can generally expedite the process to help your business get the settlement sooner. Ultimately, that helps reduce downtime and speeds the rebuilding process.
In addition, a public adjuster’s accumulated expertise often includes connections throughout industries like disaster recovery, commercial construction, and insurance law. Because they often work with clients who need these services, seasoned professional adjusters often have go-to recommendations for vendors who can help your business get back on track.