The requirements regulating public adjusters can be confusing.
You cannot control a natural disaster. New Jersey is located in the Atlantic coastal region, with 130 miles of coastline. Its location makes New Jersey a prime candidate for flooding, high winds, and blizzards, resulting in extensive damage to your property.
For these reasons, every business owner needs insurance – or better yet, maybe what you need is a little reassurance.
One way to have reassurance is to anticipate what can happen (even though you can’t predict it) and to take steps to safeguard your assets.
Have you thought about how you would survive? The time to think about this is before tragedy strikes.
Imagine you are taking a trip. It starts with knowing where you want to go and how you are going to get there. Think of this as your roadmap.
If you’ve done the wise thing, you’ve kept an updated inventory, and housed it in a safe location.
The process of hiring a claims adjuster is much like hiring an employee. Who that person is working for depends on who is paying him or her.
Step One – Insurance Claims Adjuster vs. Public Adjuster – Know the Difference
You can choose to use the insurance company’s adjuster or hire your own.
Insurance claims adjusters are paid by the insurance company. It is their job to reach a settlement that is as low as possible. Public adjusters are paid by you. It is their job to get you the highest settlement possible.
Step Two – Know the Requirements
New Jersey does not require claims adjusters to be licensed.
So do you hire an adjuster with no license? The answer is no. Excuse the pun, but to hire an adjuster who has no credentials sounds a lot like playing with fire. When it comes to your commercial property, you should work with a professional.
Some states license their claims adjusters. New Jersey doesn’t, but Texas does. Texas offers an online All-Lines Adjuster License, which means that an adjuster is not required to live in Texas in order to be licensed by Texas. Once the license has been issued, he or she can practice in a non-issuing state.
Hiring a licensed public claims adjuster has its advantages. First, it is a good benchmark that the individual has the knowledge and training to do the job.
Second, the public adjuster gets paid when you get paid. The adjuster does not want the claim sitting around on his or her desk, which is an incentive to get out into the field as soon as possible and get the claim processed.
Whether you choose to go with a claims adjuster provided by your insurance company or hire your own, either way, you are required to sign a contract and have three days to rescind.
The bottom line is that the Insurance Department requires adjusters to be licensed, so you should, too.
Step Three – Know the Job Description
Understanding the duties helps you make an informed decision.
Each task is one that requires comprehension of the terminology and language, and to hire someone without this expertise is like going on a safari without a tour guide. A good public adjuster won’t just file the claim; he or she will guide you through the process.
While they are varied, the duties require expertise; this can include reviewing the policy and translating it into terminology understandable by the policyholder, including the fine print and loopholes. Investigating damages, taking statements from witnesses, and submitting reports to the insurance company are other tasks that require a high level of skill.
Another is to estimate fair market value. If it is not a total loss, how much will the insurance company need to pay to restore your business to prior working conditions?
Just because that Duncan Phyfe dining set (that you are still using in your employee lounge) cost $99.95 in 1950 doesn’t mean you can replace it for that amount today. Triple that amount, depending on the brand. You will want to check out your own prices on items that you need to replace and get at least three estimates.
Negotiating settlements and payment processing require some know-how, as well as soft skills such as empathy, listening, and communication. More technical skills would include computer knowledge, familiarity with software, negotiation skills, and networking relationships.
As you can see, public adjusters need a wide range of skills, knowledge, and professionalism in order to provide a thorough service.
Step Four – Obtain Referrals and Check References
Reach out to your connections and ask if they know someone who has had similar situations. People don’t refer professionals to their associates and acquaintances unless they have a high regard for the quality of work, because to do so puts their own reputation on the line.
Conduct an internet search, read the reviews, and ask questions. What are others saying about your candidate? How satisfied were the person’s clients? Would they use the service again? How successful were the claims and did the client benefit?
One thing to remember is that when the need arises for a public adjuster, things move fast. You won’t have much time, but don’t let that stop you from at least getting a feel for how the person conducts business. How was the professionalism? Did they show up on time? Did they return phone calls? Texts? Emails?
Step Five – Interview
Conduct your own interview. Don’t leave it to someone else to choose for you. Check credentials. Find out if the adjuster is licensed or bonded, and ask to see his or her portfolio (this can be online).
Step Six – Selection
Finally, who’s in charge – you or your insurance company? With your premium, you’ve supported your insurance company for years, and now it’s their turn to support you.
Getting the outcome you desire is the destination. Hiring a public adjuster is like hiring anyone else. When all is said and done, the adjuster will want your recommendation.
Just like any other professional, a public adjuster is accepting a job. The important thing to remember is that the person is working on your behalf, not the other way around. Having confidence in your adjuster is just as important as having insurance.
So how do you get the best settlement?
Be in charge.
Do your homework, and expect your public adjuster to do the same.
And call us – Expert Claim Solutions.