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If your home insurance claim has been assigned to an adjuster, you might be wondering, “What does a home insurance adjuster do?” In a nutshell, the adjuster is responsible for investigating the loss, assessing the damage and calculating a fair settlement. If you are currently dealing with an active home insurance claim, it’s important to prepare for the adjuster’s visit and follow up afterwards to keep the claim process moving forward.
- A home insurance adjuster is responsible for investigating insurance claims.
- Most adjusters are employed by insurers and don't charge policyholders for home visits.
- To dispute a claim, you can hire an independent adjuster who only works for you.
How to prepare for a home adjuster’s visit
When you file a claim, your home insurance company will typically set up an appointment for a home insurance adjuster to visit. Knowing what to expect from home insurance adjusters can help you get ready. Here’s a brief step-by-step guide to preparing for a home adjuster visit:
- Document the damage: Before the adjuster arrives, you should make sure to document the exact time and date of the incident and write down any other details that may be helpful. Taking photos of the damage or loss will also be helpful to provide to the adjuster.
- Collect helpful documents: Collect documents that the adjuster can use for evidence as part of the decision-making process. Some of the documents you may want to have ready are witness statements and contact information, photos or videos taken of the damage, and receipts or estimates for repairs or for the items that were lost, stolen or damaged.
- Plan to be home during the visit: Although you are not required to be present for the visit, it’s a good idea to be home to answer questions and make sure the adjuster does not overlook anything. You may want to have some estimates ready to compare to the adjuster’s findings.
- Ask about next steps: Before the adjuster leaves, be sure to ask what you should expect as a next step. Most states require insurance companies to respond to a claim filing within a specific period of time, so ask the adjuster how long it typically takes to receive a response about your claim.
What to do after a home adjuster’s visit
Once the insurance adjuster leaves, you will probably have some “homework” to do. It is essential to act quickly and respond to any requests as soon as possible. The longer you take, the longer it will be before you receive a payout.
1. Send your list of damaged property
Depending on the damage, you may need to provide the adjuster with a list of lost or damaged property. Making a list is typically the best way to itemize your losses.
Be sure to include the estimated value of each item and any photos or receipts. It may sound like a lot of work, but it is important to remember that insurance companies need detailed information to replace your items or reimburse you for them. If you do not already have one, it may be a good idea to start a home inventory to help with any future claims.
2. Submit other requested documents and paperwork
The insurance adjuster may request additional receipts or documentation. For example, the adjuster might ask for paperwork to determine when the roof was last replaced or when the electrical system was last inspected, to check if there’s any question of homeowner negligence. If you’re trying to use your medical payments coverage, you may need to provide medical records from recent doctor’s visits if the damaging event caused injuries. Remember to send your records as soon as possible; your entire claim can be held up if you forget to complete this stage in the process.
3. Respond to the home insurance adjuster as soon as possible
Be on the lookout for further phone calls or emails in case the adjuster has additional questions. When responding to further questions, make sure you are confident when talking about the incident and what happened. Be prepared with the right information to prove that the claim was the result of a covered loss, rather than homeowner negligence or an accident.
4. Follow up
Feel free to follow up after you submit any requested documents or around the time you believe a claims decision should have been made. The insurance adjuster should let you know roughly how long it will take to investigate and settle the claim, but there’s no guaranteed timeline. If you don’t hear back from the adjuster, it’s a good idea to follow up once per week to see how things are progressing and if they need any additional information from you.
How much does a home adjuster cost?
In most cases, a home adjuster works for the insurance company. They do not charge you a fee because the carrier pays them.
If you choose to hire an independent home insurance adjuster, they typically take a percentage of the claim (around 10 to 15 percent) instead of an upfront fee. If your home burned down in a fire and you dispute your insurance carrier’s offer and eventually agree to a payment of $300,000 to rebuild, the independent adjuster could earn a fee of $30,000 to $45,000. Although it sounds high, the fee may be worth it if you have trouble getting a fair settlement offer from the insurance company.
How to dispute an insurance claim
As mentioned, there are occasions when you may want to hire your own independent adjuster. The main reason is usually that you do not agree to the insurance carrier’s offer, or the company may have outright rejected your claim. You do not have to accept an offer you believe is not favorable. You could refrain from accepting and counter the offer.
To dispute a home insurance claim, start by speaking with your insurance company’s customer service about the offer and request a written breakdown explaining how they came up with the amount. Provide the information to the independent adjuster so they can build a case in your favor.
The adjuster could provide a second, more objective opinion that could help you negotiate a better settlement from your insurance company. Keep in mind that they need time to investigate the claim and prepare a response backed by their professional findings to help you potentially win a more favorable payout.
Tips when dealing with a home insurance adjuster
Your insurance company will send out a home insurance adjuster to look at the damages listed on your claim. The adjuster will use the notes taken during their visit to determine your settlement or reimbursement amount. Understanding how to successfully deal with a property claims adjuster could help maximize your settlement or reimbursement. Here are three tips:
- Record and log conversation with the adjuster. You’ll likely cover several talking points when a home insurance adjuster arrives and you may not be able to remember all of the details. Although your adjuster will be taking their own notes, recording the dialogue or taking your own notes on important conversation points can help you remember what was discussed. If you plan to record conversations, be sure to disclose this information with the adjuster ahead of time.
- Avoid signing any documents from the home insurance adjuster too early. Insurance companies generally want to get the cheapest settlement or reimbursement costs. If your home insurance adjuster asks you to sign any documents, be sure you understand exactly what the documents include. If you need some time to review the documents or want to consult someone else beforehand, let your adjuster know when you expect to get back to them.
- Consider hiring a public adjuster. When negotiating with your home insurance adjuster, you may come to a stall in negotiations. If you are concerned that your insurance company is acting in bad faith, hiring a public adjuster or a lawyer can help provide peace of mind that someone is working on your behalf to keep the claims process moving forward.
Frequently asked questions
The best home insurance company is different for everyone. Our picks for the best home insurance companies narrowed the list down to a handful, including USAA, Allstate and Lemonade among the top options. To find which one is best for you, get quotes from a few carriers to compare.
While the name may suggest otherwise, an independent adjuster works on behalf of the insurance company and is licensed to work in compliance with the laws of the state. Independent adjusters are different from public adjusters, who are hired by policyholders. Public adjusters may be hired by you if you need help negotiating a better home insurance settlement. They typically receive a percentage of your claim’s payout.
It is difficult to pinpoint how long claims take to pay. Your state’s regulations may set a maximum time for your carrier to make a decision. In addition, some carriers work faster than others. For example, Lemonade Insurance states that they typically pay claims out nearly instantly.
If you need to file an insurance claim and you receive a settlement from the insurer, you can expect your premium to increase. However, the actual rate increase will depend on a variety of factors, including the extent of the damage and the type of claim. To lower the cost of home insurance after a claim, you can ask your insurer about ways to save money. You might also consider shopping around for quotes to see if you can get a cheaper rate from another insurer.