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What does an insurance adjuster do?

A day in the life of an adjuster

We hope you never have to file a homeowners insurance claim, but if you do, your insurance adjuster will be there for you at each step. You may not know what an insurance adjuster does, but each day they are focused on moving your claim through each step and toward a resolution as smoothly as possible. Here’s a look at the role of an insurance adjuster.

What is an insurance adjuster?

Also called a property claims adjuster, an insurance adjuster is your primary point of contact with your insurance company after you file a claim with your homeowners insurer. Whether it’s for theft or damage, the adjuster reviews and documents what happened. Adjusters collect photos, receipts, estimates, police reports where necessary, and accounts from your experience to capture a complete picture of the loss that has occurred.

Are there different types of adjusters?

Adjusters can be desk adjusters, field adjusters or public adjusters, and while they have the same word in their title, they have different roles in the claims process.

  • Desk adjusters work for the insurance company. Most of your communication with them will occur on the phone, through email or via text. They oversee the claim on behalf of your insurance company.
  • Field adjusters also work for the insurance company or are contracted on behalf of the insurance company but travel to the location of the loss to collect more detailed information and provide it back to the desk adjuster.
  • Public adjusters do not work for your insurance company. They are hired by you and act as a representative on your behalf. Be sure to thoroughly review a contract before hiring a public adjuster. And remember, a public adjuster does the same work the adjuster from your insurance company does, but as a third party, they often require a fee for their service.

Desk adjusters provide oversight to the entire claim experience, and they will work with you throughout your experience. Here’s a closer look at the role of a desk adjuster.

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Adjusters contact policyholders when a claim is received

Reporting a claim can be done online or over the phone. Once the first notice of loss (FNOL) is received, your insurance company opens a claim record, and your claim is assigned to an adjuster. That adjuster is then responsible for following up with you. In many cases, you can choose how you’d like to communicate with the adjuster, so you might opt to select text messages, a phone call, or even an email as your preferred method of communication.

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Adjusters help customers understand the nuances of insurance

So much of what an adjuster does involves informing policyholders about their policy. From deductibles to recoverable depreciation, adjusters understand the ins and outs of insurance coverage. They can answer your questions and even help you understand components of your policy you probably didn’t even know existed.

Take for instance, recoverable depreciation. Most policies provide a claim payout for the actual cash value of your lost, stolen or damaged property. But what something is worth right now might be less than what it costs to replace it. Recoverable depreciation allows you to replace or repair your loss and recover the difference in cost by showing that you completed the repair or replaced the item. Most homeowners who have never filed a claim are unaware of how this process works.

And this is just one example of how an adjuster can educate policyholders on the nuances of insurance. Endorsements, managed repair programs, home warranties vs. insurance coverage — there are so many things your adjuster can help you navigate.

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Adjusters follow up on active claims

Good adjusters spend much of their time reviewing the open claims they are responsible for and working to keep each moving forward, checking to confirm that the process is coming to a resolution promptly. That means scheduling field adjuster visits if necessary, confirming receipt of documentation and following up on contractor visits.

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Adjusters review supplemental contractor requests

Adjusters collect information about the loss or property damage that has occurred and write an initial estimate to resolve the claim. Sometimes, the estimate is accurate and settles the claim. Other times, the contractor arrives at the home and begins the work only to discover more extensive damage than the estimate covered. In a situation like this, the contractor can propose additional work necessary to properly repair the damage and submit it to the insurance company. The adjuster is responsible for reviewing this proposal, providing approval and adjusting the claim payout.

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Adjusters evaluate field adjuster estimates

Remember, there are a few types of adjusters. The extent of loss and scope of work to restore the homeowner is best understood when a field adjuster can see the damage or loss firsthand. Your desk adjuster will assign a field adjuster to inspect the situation and provide an initial estimate. The desk adjuster reviews the field adjuster’s notes to see if the scope of work is provided for by the policy and confirms if anything is missing, like special needs related to building codes, before sending it back to the homeowner.

Understanding what an insurance adjuster does can help the claims process move along smoothly for you.

How do I talk to an insurance claims adjuster?

Remember, adjusters are people just like you, and many take great pride in having a job that helps restore policyholders to their pre-loss state — making good on your insurer’s promise to be there after some of life’s worst moments occur. Yes, they will be documenting what happened, but they are humans who can relate to the loss and devastation you’re experiencing, and they want to help you. Assisting homeowners through a claim is what they do every day. You can share your experience, ask questions and work together to resolve your claim.

Whether they are in direct contact with you, answering questions and educating you about your coverages, or working behind the scenes to document and review your claim, each part of a claims adjuster’s work focuses on providing a settlement offer that restores your home to what it was before your loss.