A public adjuster is an insurance claims adjuster who is an advocate for the policyholder in appraising and negotiating a first party insurance claim. Aside from attorneys and the broker of record, public adjusters licensed by state departments of insurance are the only type of claims adjuster that can legally represent the rights of an insured during a property insurance claim process. A public adjuster will be most beneficial when it is clear that the insurer will pay the claim and the only issue is the proper identification and valuation of the loss. Most public adjusters charge a percentage of the settlement (with the percentage being lower for larger losses (over $250,000)), with the average charge being between 10% to 15%, although some states cap the fee. Primarily they appraise the damage, prepare an estimate and other claim documentation, read the policy of insurance to determine coverages, and negotiate with the insurance company’s adjuster.
There are three classes of insurance claims adjusters: staff adjusters (employed by an insurance company or self-insured entity), independent adjusters (independent contractors hired by the insurance company) and public adjusters (employed by the policyholder). “Company” or “independent” adjusters can only legally represent the rights of an insurance company.
Outside the United States Adjusters are commonly called (or translated into English as) “insurance loss assessors” (or simply “loss assessors”) and staff adjusters or independent adjusters are called or translated as “insurance loss adjusters” (or simply “loss adjusters”).