What Is an Insurance Adjuster and What Do They Do?

by Shelley Frost
A male insurance adjustor stands in the driveway of a residential house as he inspects the building for damage following a tornado, tornado damage, damage, building, house, home inspector, inspector, driveway, brick house, brick, insurance, insurance adjustor, insurance adjuster, shrubbery

At some point in your life, you may need to make an insurance claim. Whether it's your car insurance or homeowners insurance, you'll likely deal with an insurance adjuster as part of the process.

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Understanding the role of the claims adjuster makes the process easier to navigate and could help you get better results from your insurance claim.

What Is an Insurance Adjuster?

An insurance adjuster investigates insurance claims after they're filed. Their job is to first determine whether the insurance company should pay for the claim, which could include compensation for property damages and injuries to people. Then, they figure out how much the insurance company should pay for the covered damages and injuries. You'll likely interact with the insurance claims adjuster throughout the process.

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What Does an Insurance Adjuster Do?

Your claims adjuster does several activities to come to a conclusion on the claim. Some of the tasks the adjuster does include:

  • Review the coverage. The insurance adjuster needs to review the insurance policy coverage and consider what happened during the event to determine whether the coverage applies.
  • Look at the evidence. Your adjuster will dig deeper into the case to figure out what happened. This might involve reviewing police reports, if there are any, talking to witnesses, looking at photos or videos and talking to experts.
  • Inspect the vehicle or home. Sometimes, the adjuster will look at a vehicle or property to see the damage themselves. They might also take photos to document what they see.
  • Calculate payment amounts. With all the information available to them, the claims adjuster will decide how much the insurance company should pay for the claim.
  • Advise you on next steps. The adjuster typically communicates with you to let you know what to do next. They might give you repair options or explain how the payout will work. You can also ask the adjuster questions at any point if you're unsure of what's happening with the claim.

What's the Difference Between Public and Independent Adjusters?

An independent insurance adjuster works for an independent firm. When an insurance company needs an adjuster, it contracts with the firm to have an independent adjuster do the work. Independent adjusters only work on behalf of the insurance company.

Public adjusters work on behalf of insurance policyholders, not insurance companies. You might hire a public adjuster if you don't agree with the decision of the adjuster working for the insurance company. They can offer another evaluation and help you negotiate with the insurance company. As the policyholder, you would be responsible for paying for the services of a public insurance adjuster. They might receive a percentage of the settlement amount, similar to a lawyer who works on a contingency basis.

Some insurance companies also hire internal adjusters who work for the company and represent its interests. While similar to an independent adjuster, this type of adjuster works for only one company, instead of doing contract work for multiple insurers.

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Tips for Working With a Claims Adjuster

The insurance adjuster plays an important role in settling your claim. The following tips can help make your interactions with the claims adjuster go smoother:

  • Record the details. Document the name of the adjuster who contacts you. It's also a good idea to write down when you talk to them and what you discuss for your records.
  • Stay calm and polite. Dealing with an insurance claim is a frustrating situation, but it's important to stay calm when dealing with adjusters. Becoming angry or combative can increase tensions and interrupt the process.
  • Respond quickly. The adjuster might contact you for more information during the investigation phase. Whenever the insurance adjuster reaches out to you, respond quickly to avoid delaying the decision.
  • Present information. Adjusters sometimes need information and photos to evaluate the situation. They might need to come to your home to assess the situation. Being cooperative with these requests helps the adjuster do their job. It also helps create a positive relationship, which can make the claims process smoother.

If you don't agree with the adjuster's decision, you can try to negotiate with the insurance company. They might adjust the offer if you have solid evidence as to why you should receive more money. You can hire a public adjuster or attorney to help you with your situation.

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