When an incident happens and a claim needs to be filed, adjusters are there to help you to fill out the paperwork. There are three types of adjusters: public, independent, and company. There is a definite difference between independent and company adjusters. But, no matter their title, these men and women all work as claims service representatives.
The greatest difference between the three types of adjusters is their employer. Public adjusters are hired by the policyholder to work on their behalf. They are compensated using part of the claim payout that the insurance company awards the insured. On the other hand, independent and company adjusters work for the insurance company. Their goal is still to help the insured work through the claims process.
Company adjusters (also called staff adjusters) are employed directly by the insurance company, while independent adjusters are contractors who are hired by multiple insurance companies (usually smaller entities, during catastrophic storms, or in remote areas). This means that the company adjusters are salaried employees and independent adjusters are hired based on their daily rate whenever needed. Both legally represent the rights of the insurance company during the claims process while investigating and resolving claims. However, they still may go through an intermediary adjusting company that supervises their work and ensures the quality of their work.
Once you begin the claims process, the company or independent adjuster uses the information provided in the loss notice to investigate the claim. This notice will include the date and location of the loss, the insurance type and the contact information for all parties involved, including witnesses. The adjuster will then travel to the site of the loss and provide additional documentation which may help in determining the validity of the claim and the payout amount. They will also interview the claimants and witnesses to the loss. If you want, you can request copies of the documentation filed by the adjuster to have for your records. They work to solve the claim quickly and efficiently compared to public adjusters who generally lengthen the processing time because of the amount of policy disputes they bring to the insurance company.
States have laws in place which dictate the duties and responsibilities of independent and company adjusters above and beyond the requirements of the companies themselves. For example, in Indiana, the duties include:
- Being honest and unbiased to both the insured and insurer.
- Giving the policyholders quick, knowledgeable, and unbiased service. Adjusters must be objective and polite when working through a claim.
- Must not deal with the legal council of the insured.
- Maintain state and local privacy laws.
- Do not from making money off an adjustment
Company and independent adjusters try to remain as neutral as possible when working through a claim. Unlike public adjusters, their goal is not to create tension and hostility between the policy holder and the insurance company. After a disaster strikes, emotions can be high and having a neutral party to communicate with can be a great advantage. As stated by one insurance expert, “All any insured need realize is that an independent adjuster would be shooting himself in the foot to cross the impartial line and become biased toward one side. Most insurer’s now prefer their independent adjusters give an insured the benefit of the doubt.”
Insurance companies realize they have an ethical duty to interpret any ambiguities in the insurance contract to favor the insured and will normally meet that standard.
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