For state insurance officials, ‘public adjuster’ can be a problem

Shhh. There’s a term state insurance officials apparently dare not use right now. That term is “public insurance adjuster.”

Public insurance adjusters are often seen by insurance companies as adversaries because — unlike regular claims adjusters who work for insurance companies inspecting damages and working up repair cost estimates — public adjusters work directly for policyholders and often challenge estimates by insurance companies’ adjusters.

In a tip sheet presented as a list of “myths” and “facts” about hurricane insurance released last week, Jimmy Patronis, Florida’s chief financial officer, avoided using the term even as he urged policyholders confronted with a claim denial or inadequate claim payment to “always get a second opinion to verify the cause of loss and/or the cost to repair or replace the damage.”

Providing second opinions — then helping manage the claim to ensure policyholders get every dollar to which they are entitled — is what independent public insurance adjusters do.

They work for a fee or percentage of the claim and, yes, they often work to the chagrin of insurers who would prefer policyholders accept their decisions as the last word.

Disagreements cost more money — whether they result in expanding the scope of the repair, or fighting it out in court.

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