You’re caught in a deadlock with the insurance company and your hurricane insurance payment is too low. What next? This is the stage that thousands, if not millions, of property owners are currently facing after filing their insurance claims for property damages, especially after mass destruction like we’ve seen from Hurricane Laura. Coverages were lowballed or denied entirely, and policyholders received a check which does not cover the cost of their repairs. Many people begin hunting for someone to negotiate and represent them on their claim - but hiring outside help can seem daunting or expensive. There are advertisements for public adjusters and attorneys everywhere, but many people are not sure what direction to go in. Here are some things to think about when considering a public adjuster versus an insurance claims attorney.
What’s the key difference between a Public Adjuster and an Insurance Attorney?
The short and sweet of it is - negotiating power. Public Adjusters can be very valuable to help assess the full extent of your damages and negotiate for a higher settlement with your insurance company, but they have no position of authority or legal power over the insurance company. Therefore, insurance companies have no legal obligation to accept a public adjuster’s report, and oftentimes disputes will arise. Attorneys represent their clients inside and out of court and have the litigation power against the insurance company to maximize their claim. Public adjusters are usually in the range of 10% - 20% in their fee arrangements, and attorneys are generally in the range of 33-40%. They both assume much risk up front and have full intent to try and win the highest settlement for your claim, but attorneys can pursue legal action and other awards for damages where a public adjuster cannot.
How are Public Adjusters and Insurance Attorneys similar?
Both public adjusters and insurance attorneys work for you. They can be hired with no upfront costs and usually do not charge any fees on any money you have already received from the insurance company. They work on a contingency basis meaning their fees will only be paid from any further money they are able to win for you.
For example, the insurance company sends you a payment for your claim for $10,000. When a public adjuster or attorney is hired, that $10,000 payment would not be considered in their fees. If a public adjuster or attorney were then able to negotiate for $40,000 more from the insurance company, the $40,000 is the amount they would base their fee percentage on. The total amount in the claim from the insurance company would be $50,000, but the fees are only on the $40,000 they were able to recover for you which would be in the vicinity of $10,000 – $16,000 from your settlement offer. Out of $50,000, you would have received a total between $34,000 - $40,000, where originally you had only started with $10,000. Every case is different, but this is an example to give you an overall idea.
Getting the Most for your Claim
In many cases, hiring a public adjuster is a good option for your situation. They can help you understand your policy coverages, calculate your property damages, and re-file a claim to the insurance company to help negotiate a higher settlement, acting as your representative in what can feel like a nightmare process.
On the other hand, many cases are best to start with an experienced insurance attorney. An attorney can be a valuable asset in fighting the legal battles to get you everything you deserve in your claim, especially on more complicated or severe cases where the property damages are extensive and the insurance company is not acting in good faith. You should consider contacting an attorney versus a public adjuster when:
You have questions regarding your policy coverages
The insurance adjuster’s estimate is lower than expected
Damages are extensive and claims are more complex
Claims are delayed or denied
At Galindo Law, we’re fighting for thousands of property owners that are being treated unfairly in the claims process in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura & Delta. Our team offers care and legal support when dealing with hardened insurance companies. Call the Galindo Law Firm at 337.777.1000 for a free legal consultation to find out if you were underpaid on your claim.
You might also like to read the Why is my Hurricane Laura Insurance Claim such a Battle?