What Does a Homeowner's Insurance Adjuster Do?

Written by James Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

Insurance claims adjusters have several clearly-defined roles. These roles require adjusters to speak with many different policyholders. If you hold a homeowner's insurance policy, chances are good that you'll deal with a claims adjuster at some point during your tenure as a homeowner. This interaction is equally likely to occur in person or over the phone. It's also likely to be fairly brief. In addition, there's a good chance that it will be formal and highly scripted. As such, it may not shed a great deal of light on the actual responsibilities of the claims adjuster with whom you're dealing. Fortunately, the roles and responsibilities of the typical claims adjuster are common knowledge.

Most homeowner's insurance adjusters work for private insurance companies. These individuals are tasked with assessing the "damage value" of a given incident and providing a preliminary estimate of its total cost. In a typical situation, this estimate will account for the cost of cleaning up, repairing and restoring a given room or structure to like-new condition.

However, homeowner's insurance adjusters aren't required to make payout-related promises to the policyholders with whom they work. In fact, these workers are trained to ask tough questions about pre-existing damages, maintenance schedules and other issues. They're also trained to look for signs of structural wear and tear in the homes that they inspect. Depending upon their aptitude, they may be skilled at pointing to seemingly inconsequential cracks and burns as evidence of negligence on the part of the policyholders with whom they deal. In short, homeowner's insurance adjusters are responsible for minimizing their employers' payouts.

Some claims adjusters work independently or for entities that conduct "non-sanctioned" appraisals. Collectively, these claims adjusters are known as "public adjusters." Although their training and core competencies resemble those of so-called "industry adjusters," their job duties are somewhat different.

For starters, they often serve as a counterpoint to industry adjusters and act as a check on the influence of the country's private insurance companies. Homeowners who are dissatisfied with the opinions of their insurance companies' claims adjusters might call out a public adjuster to give a second opinion on the "damage value" of a particular incident.

If such claims disputes end up in court, public adjusters might serve as expert witnesses for these aggrieved policyholders. Since they often work in direct opposition to insurance companies, they're not particularly well-liked among industry adjusters. However, they tend to receive competitive compensation.

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