Multiple fires threaten San Diego area in early start to season

Hiring Middleman To Fight Insurance Company

Public adjusters hired by fire victims

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC 7's Consumer Bob looks into whether its worth hiring a public insurance adjuster to deal with insurance claims, especially in light of May's firestorm. (Published Tuesday, May 20, 2014)

    Brian Rott learned the hard way that he needs help filing an insurance claim.

    "We've been through it before and the last experience was a nightmare," said Rott. 

    He had to rebuild his home after the 2007 wildfires in San Diego.

    Now, Rott had a condo damaged in the recent May Firestorm, and instead of working directly with his insurance company, he is hiring a Public Insurance Adjuster.

    "I needed somebody who understands the industry," said Rott, "and understands what the rights are for the policy holder.

    Public insurance adjusters are licensed in California and acts as advocates for policy holders, working to get their full coverage and claims. 

    But adjusters come at a price: up to 10 percent of the claim.  Adjuster Marc Gross said it's worth it.

    "It takes the burden off of them," said Gross, "not only in having to negotiate with the insurance company but deal with all the different people...the vendors, the contractors, the engineers."

    When people have damage that is covered by insurance, they are usually assigned an adjuster from the insurance company. 

    The damage is assessed, and a check is usually written to the policy holder. 

    A public insurance adjuster takes over the role of the policy holder.  They can collect and fill out paperwork and work to get the policy holder the most money they can get for their claim.

    At times, the relationship between an adjuster and the insurance company can get heated.

    "I'm not going to lie, there are cases where we do get adversarial, " said Gross, "If that didn't happen then we wouldn't be doing our job."

    The insurance industry often points out that public adjusters get a percentage of your insurance money and they can't guarantee you will get more money if you use them. 

     Gross said there are no guarantees but  adjusters often negotiate more money for their clients.

    There is no need to rush to hire an adjuster.  It is best to interview an adjuster, check their license and talk to previous customers.

    Rott said the emotion of a loss makes it difficult to work with an insurance company.  That's why he chose to hire a public adjuster.

    "If you need help," said Rott, "you call people who are smarter than you."