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Do you need a public adjuster?

Insurance company claims specialists can advocate for you


To our readers:
    Sandy visited Long Island for only a few hours in late October, but we will be dealing with the mess she left behind for many months, if not years. Her devastation affected every aspect of life here on the South Shore. Some of us lost homes and material possessions; others, more fortunate, reached out to help those in need. All of us have been touched — and changed — in some way.
    Realizing that the journey to recovery is a multifaceted story with no end in sight, the Heralds will be chronicling all aspects of the rebuilding effort in a series of weekly articles with a common theme, South Shore Rising. We plan this coverage to be useful, hopeful and healing. If you think we should be writing about something we’re not, let us know. If you have a story you’d like to share, email us at southshorerising@liherald.com. If you’d like to place an ad related to Sandy and the recovery, contact rglickman@liherald.com.
    We may be down, but not for long. The South Shore will rise again.


Superstorm Sandy left your home, your possessions, even your livelihood damaged. You’ve contacted your insurance company. Now what?

Dealing with the aftermath of such a disaster is, to say the least, stressful. But what happens when you have to make a claim to recover your losses? How do you know you’re getting the proper reimbursement, or if you’re even reporting it correctly? That’s where a pubic adjuster comes in.

A public adjuster is an insurance claims specialist who advocates for you, the policyholder, in appraising and negotiating a claim. He or she is employed exclusively by you — not by your insurance company. Adjusters can help with flood, collapse, hurricane and wind damage, among other claims.

“We make sure you do your due diligence,” said David Barrack, executive director of the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters. “We’re still getting calls because people are frustrated with their insurance companies. With Sandy, as with Katrina, [insurance companies] are scrambling to cover their losses. We’re not attorneys, and we have our own estimators.”

Barrack explained that it is best to call a P.A. before your insurance company sends you a check, to see if an adjuster can help. “It’s easier before it’s been finalized,” he said. In other words, it’s more beneficial to get an adjuster involved 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 average fee between 10 and 15 percent, although some states cap the fee. Adjusters work with commercial entities as well as homeowners.

Once you’ve hired an adjuster, he or she will inspect the loss site, analyze the damage, review your insurance coverage and determine the replacement cost. He or she will also help you with other losses that are triggered by physical damage, including business income and mechanical breakdowns.

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