What is an Independent Adjuster?
An independent adjuster is a professional who is responsible for evaluating an insurance claim and determining what coverage an insured is entitled to under his or her insurance policy. Frequently, when an insurance claim is made, an insurance company will send an independent adjuster to assess the damage and to prepare an estimate for the amount of damage that was sustained. For example, if there is a fire in your home, an independent adjuster may visit your home and inspect the damage. He will then prepare a report which will describe the damage that the fire caused and will estimate what it will cost to make necessary repairs.
What Should I know About Independent Adjusters?
Recently, a Connecticut court issued a ruling that policy holders should be aware of. In the case of Shlank v. Middlesex Assurance Co., 61 Conn. L.Rptr. 339 (Conn. Super. 2015) the court decided that an independent adjuster who is hired by an insurance company owes a duty to the insurance company who he was hired by, and not to the policy holder. Thus, the policy holder was unable to hold this independent adjuster liable for negligently adjusting her claim. The insured argued the independent adjuster didn’t correctly advise her of her policy coverage causing her to lose money.
This case essentially says that when an independent adjuster is sent to your home to inspect a loss, this individual is working for the insurance company and owes a duty to the insurance company, not the policyholder.
What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?
It is important to understand the independent adjuster, working for the insurance company, owes no duty to the homeowner and may not be responsible if he/she gives the homeowner wrong information. To protect yourself, consider hiring a public adjuster. Public adjusters work for policy holders and not for insurance companies. When an insured hires his own public adjuster, the public adjuster will owe a duty of care to the insured and not to the insurance company. Thus, a public adjuster who is working for an insured will have the responsibility to inspect a loss and to ensure that his report encompasses the full extent of the loss and that nothing has been overlooked. By hiring your own public adjuster, you will ensure that you are fairly compensated under your policy. You may also consider hiring an attorney experienced in handling first party property insurance claims.