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Ask the Home Insurance Expert

My home was destroyed in a fire, and I'm questioning whether the insurance adjuster is giving me a fair shake. Who can I talk to for help?

Understanding the details of a large, complex home insurance claim is indeed a challenge. One option is to hire a public insurance adjuster who works on your behalf to get a fair settlement from the insurance company.

A qualified public adjuster:

  • Estimates the cost of the damage.
  • Deciphers the legal language of your insurance policy.
  • Helps you file the claim.
  • Haggles with the insurer to make sure you get the full payment to which you're entitled.

A public adjuster also helps keep track of communication with the insurance company and can even help you find a temporary place to live while your home is being rebuilt. A standard homeowner insurance policy includes coverage for "additional living expenses" you incur (such as the cost to rent a comparable home) if yours is uninhabitable while it undergoes repairs.

This help isn't free. Public adjusters charge a fee, usually a certain percentage of the total amount of your settlement. Keep in mind the adjuster can't get the insurance company to pay anything beyond what it legally owes you, and the fee you pay the adjuster is not covered by insurance.

The National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters can help you find professionals in your area. Check the qualifications your state insurance department requires of public adjusters. Most states require public adjusters to be licensed.

Ask friends for referrals. Don't hire someone who appears at your property unsolicited to offer services unless you check them out and are sure they're honest and qualified.

For more, see How to hire a public claims adjuster after a disaster.








Last updated: Oct. 17, 2011