Independent Adjusters & the Myth of Impartiality

Because insurance isn’t complicated enough already, when it comes to adjusters, there are a number of kinds operating under a number of ambiguous labels. Much like the language of the policies themselves, adjusters’ titles can be misleading. First and foremost, there is the traditional insurance adjuster. These folks are fixtures of a single insurance company, and, accordingly, tend to earn a fixed salary. Public adjusters are hired by and work for you, but that means you’ll also be the one footing the bill for their personal advocacy. Finally, there are independent adjusters. These are the kinds of adjusters on which we will be honing today.

Contrary to what their name may suggest, independent adjusters are not third parties. Thus, they do not possess the impartial assessing skills that would seem appropriate in a situation between two fixed entities. Independent adjusters actually work for your insurance company. A form of outsourced labor, independent adjusting is sold to various companies as needed. There are various reasons why your insurance company may need to tap into a larger labor pool.

Perhaps the most common explanation is an overwhelming number of claims. Natural disasters will, of course, exponentially increase the demand on a given company. To ensure that all homes are assessed, contractors must be employed. Other times, a home in a remote area that has been the victim of a specialized climate or animal may demand the use of a specialist that doesn’t exist in an insurer’s core fleet of adjusters. Finally, laws in designated areas or stipulations in certain policies might require the use of an independent adjuster. These are factors to consider before you buy a home, as well as prior to committing to an insurance company.

As that last point may suggest, independent adjusters are subject to state licensing requirements, including, but not limited to, testing, fingerprinting, and fee payment. In Louisiana, all independent adjusters must register with the Louisiana Department of Insurance. The positive aspect of state licensing is that all registered adjusters can be located in an online database. Such tools are handy if a stranger appears at your doorstep alleging to be a legitimate component of the claims process.

Yet, even if an independent adjuster checks out with the State, that doesn’t mean that they are fair and balanced, operating completely in accordance with the law. While they may be temporary employees of your insurance company, they are still tools of your insurance company nevertheless. As a result, they will do everything they reasonably can to minimize your claim, and essentially, please their employer. Ultimately, the faster they can make the problem go away, the faster they get a cut since they don’t get paid until the claim is settled. Unless the law requires the use of an independent adjuster, you retain the right to hire a public adjuster. Still, a public adjuster is limited in their advocacy, which oftentimes leaves legal counsel as the most proactive option for maximizing your claim. While the scope of public adjusters will be scrutinized in more detail in an upcoming article, the takeaway is that lawyers can send their own adjuster to your home who will produce a report dedicated to accuracy rather than the happiness of a distant contracting party.

Call or message our New Orleans property casualty attorneys at (504) 684-5200 for a free, no obligation consultation.

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