June 25, 2021

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Understanding Home Insurance Adjusters] | Bankrate

5 min read

A home insurance adjuster typically works for an insurance company, either as an employee or contractor. When you file a homeowners insurance claim, the home adjuster will come to your property to examine what happened, determine the extent of the damage or loss, collect evidence and use the information to rule on the claim on behalf of the carrier.

Knowing how to deal with home insurance adjusters can help the entire claims process run more smoothly. Unless you are working with an independent insurance adjuster, the home adjuster represents the insurance company and will have insights into how the carrier works. They should be able to answer questions about your claim and are typically responsible for making sure it is handled as quickly and efficiently as possible.

How to prepare for a home adjuster’s visit

When you file a claim, your 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.

Before the adjuster arrives, it is helpful to document the exact time and date of the incident and other details that may be helpful. Taking photos of the damage or loss can help explain what happened. Collect documents and information the adjuster can use for evidence as part of the decision-making process. Some of the documents and information you may want to have ready are:

  • Witness statements and contact information
  • Video surveillance footage
  • Photos that were taken soon after the damage occurred
  • A police report
  • Receipts and invoices or estimates for repairs or for the items that were lost, stolen or damaged

You do not have to be present for the visit, but it would be 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.

Although the insurance adjuster works for the insurance company, dealing with home insurance adjusters is usually a collaborative experience. The short time you have with the adjuster can help them understand whether you would like repairs or reimbursement and provides you with an excellent opportunity to learn what you should expect after they leave.

In fact, before the adjuster leaves, be sure to ask what you should expect next. Most states require insurance companies to respond to a claim filing within a specific time. The adjuster should share that information with you so you have an idea of 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.

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.

Submit other requested documents and paperwork

The insurance adjuster may request additional receipts or documentation. Send them as soon as possible — your entire claim can be held up if you forget to complete this stage in the process.

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, it is usually a good idea to be honest while avoiding language that suggests you may be at fault or that the problem could have been prevented.

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.

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%) 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.

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 win a more favorable payout.

Frequently asked questions

What are the best home insurance companies?

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, Travelers, Amica, Allstate and Lemonade. To find which one is best for you, get quotes from a few carriers to compare.

What is an independent adjuster?

An independent adjuster does not work for an insurance company and 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.

How long does it take to get paid for a claim?

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.