Key takeaways

  • A home insurance adjuster, also called a property claims or insurance adjuster, is responsible for investigating insurance claims.
  • Most adjusters are employed or contracted by insurers and don't charge policyholders for home visits, but homeowners can hire public adjusters as well.
  • To dispute a claim, you can hire an independent adjuster who only works for you.

If you’ve recently filed a home insurance claim, you might be curious about what exactly a home insurance claims adjuster does. Simply put, their job involves looking into the claim to evaluate damage and determine a fair settlement. If you’re in the middle of a home insurance claim, it’s crucial to get ready for the adjuster’s visit and stay in touch afterward to keep the claim moving smoothly. Knowing what to expect from this process and how to navigate it can help provide you peace of mind throughout the process.

What is a home insurance claims adjuster?

A home insurance adjuster is a professional responsible for assessing and determining the extent of damage or loss covered by a home insurance policy. When a homeowner files a home insurance claim, the insurance company assigns an adjuster to investigate the situation. The adjuster may be employed by the insurance provider or may be contracted by the company.

The adjuster’s role includes inspecting the property, evaluating the damage and calculating the appropriate compensation or settlement that the insurance company should provide. Home insurance adjusters play a crucial role in facilitating the claims process and ensuring that policyholders receive fair and accurate compensation for covered losses.

It is important to determine whether or not to file a claim before undergoing this process, as an adjuster may deny a claim if it does not meet the necessary criteria to move forward. Plus, your claims history can impact the home insurance rates you secure in the future.

What is the difference between an independent adjuster and a public adjuster?

There are several different types of claims adjusters. An independent adjuster is contracted by an insurance company to assess and investigate claims. Independent adjusters are expected to operate impartially to recommend a settlement. Independent adjusters are assigned when an insurance company chooses to contract with them, but your policy provider may also have in-house adjusters who can be assigned to a claim.

Public adjusters are hired by policyholders and advocate for their interests in the claims process. They will similarly assess damage and recommend a settlement, but they can also negotiate on behalf of the policyholder to reach an agreement with the insurance company. Homeowners who feel the independent adjuster’s assessment was incorrect or unfair might consider a public adjuster to get a second opinion.

What does a home insurance adjuster do?

When a homeowners insurance adjuster arrives at your home, their primary task is to assess the damage claimed in your insurance report. You can expect that they will inspect the areas that were damaged and will likely take pictures and make notes about the observable damage. They may also examine collateral property such as gates, decks or other areas to determine how widespread the damage is. They may ask questions about how the damage occurred or when you noticed it, and make assessments as to the structural integrity of your home to determine if any of the damage may have happened before the cited incident.

You can expect the process to last about an hour or two. After that, the insurance adjuster will file a report containing their findings and recommendations. Some insurance adjusters can authorize a claim on the spot, but it is more common that you will have to review the report and communicate with the insurance company to finalize the claim.

How to prepare for a home insurance 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. While the adjuster will likely take their own photos to document the damage, taking photos of the damage or loss can be helpful for your records.
  • Collect 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 the next steps. 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 insurance claims 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. Delayed responses to adjuster questions or follow-up requests may delay the claim payout process.

  • Submit other requested documents and paperwork: If you’re asked to fill out paperwork or provide documents, complete the forms and return them as quickly as possible so your claim isn’t delayed. For example, you might be asked to provide a receipt showing when you last replaced the roof or had the heating system inspected.
  • Keep an eye out for emails and calls: Make yourself available by phone, text or email to stay in the loop about your claim. You might receive updates or be asked to provide further information so it’s important to keep the lines of communication open.
  • Follow up: Most insurance adjusters will give you a timeline of the claims process, but keep in mind that each claim is different so the amount of time it takes to receive a payout can vary. If you haven’t received an update in a while, you might want to reach out to the adjuster and see if they need any additional information from you.

How much does a home insurance 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 a public 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 public 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 public adjuster. The main reason is usually that you do not agree to the insurance carrier’s offer, or the company may have rejected your claim outright. You do not have to accept an offer you believe is not favorable. You could refrain from accepting and dispute the offer or denial.

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. If you choose to hire a public adjuster, provide the information to them 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

Understanding how to successfully deal with a property claims adjuster could help maximize your settlement or reimbursement. Here are three tips:

  • Record and log conversations 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 notes or recording the dialogue, 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 to the adjuster ahead of time.
  • Avoid signing any documents from the home insurance adjuster too early. 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, negotiations may stall. 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. It will vary depending on the type of coverage you need, your home and your budget. To find the best coverage for your home, most experts recommend narrowing down carriers based on your priorities and then comparing personalized quotes to see which offers you the best rates.
    • It is difficult to pinpoint how long claims take to pay out. Some claims may take only a few days while others could take weeks. Your state’s regulations may set a maximum time for your carrier to make a decision. In addition, some carriers work faster than others. Stay in contact with your insurance company and adjuster to follow up on the claim and its progress.
    • If you need to file an insurance claim and you receive a payout from the insurer, you can usually 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 might consider shopping with other carriers or addressing your personal rating factors to reduce your risk as a policyholder.