The Insurance Bulletin
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What Is an Insurance Adjuster?

insurance adjuster inspecting car

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Elizabeth Rivelli
Updated March 7, 2023
3 Min Read

An insurance adjuster is responsible for handling insurance claims. After a covered loss, an adjuster investigates the situation, assesses the damage, and if the claim is covered, determines an appropriate payout. Depending on the company, insurance adjusters may also be called claims adjusters.

There are two main types of adjusters: company adjusters and independent adjusters. While company adjusters (also called staff adjusters) exclusively work for one insurance provider, independent adjusters are employed by third-party companies. An insurance provider might hire an independent adjuster if their staff adjusters are overloaded with claims, like after a hurricane or earthquake.

In addition, there are also public insurance adjusters, who represent policyholders. For example, if your car is severely damaged in a covered accident and your insurance company doesn’t believe it’s totaled, you could hire a public adjuster to assess the claim and negotiate with your insurance company on your behalf. 

What does an insurance adjuster do?

Insurance adjusters are responsible for managing customer claims. After a loss, an adjuster will gather information about the incident and determine if the claim is covered. Then, they use the evidence to determine an appropriate settlement for the policyholder.

Claims adjusters only deal with insurance claims. They don’t sell policies and they aren’t the first line of customer service when a policyholder has a question about their coverage. However, insurance adjusters work closely with customers during the claim process. 

If the claim involves two individuals, like in the case of a car accident or personal liability claim, an insurance adjuster will also communicate with the other person's insurance company. 

How do insurance adjusters handle claims?

An insurance adjuster’s role is to investigate and settle insurance claims. When you experience a covered loss, such as vehicle theft or a house fire, you file a claim with your insurance provider and your case gets assigned to an adjuster.

At this point, the adjuster will speak with you to learn what happened, gather evidence, and potentially speak with witnesses. They might also inspect the damage in-person. For instance, if your roof is severely damaged after a windstorm, the adjuster may visit your house to determine the extent of the damage and what it will take to fix it.

Once the adjuster has all the details of the situation, they review your policy details to determine if the claim is covered. If the loss is approved, the next step for the insurance adjuster is to calculate how much money you should be paid for the loss. This may involve some back and forth with you or your public adjuster, if you hired one. 

Tips for working with an insurance claims adjuster

If you experience an insured loss, you will probably have to work with a claims adjuster at some point during the process. However, it’s common to have reservations about working with a claim adjuster. For instance, you might think that an insurance adjuster won’t have your best interests in mind or will provide an unfair settlement (which is sometimes true). 

To make the process of working with a claims adjuster as seamless as possible, there are some proactive measures you can take. Here are a few tips for working with an insurance adjuster.

Present all the evidence

When working with a claims adjuster, you’ll want to make sure to provide as much evidence as possible upfront. If you took videos or photos of the damage, share them. Ask the adjuster to survey the damage in-person, if possible. If there were witnesses, provide their names and contact information so the adjuster can speak with them directly. Although the adjuster will investigate the claim thoroughly, they will need your help gathering all the information to arrive at a fair settlement. 

Be communicative

Claims adjusters are very busy—they could be handling hundreds of claims at one time, depending on the size of the insurance carrier. And if your claim is complicated, it could delay your settlement. During the claim process, it’s important to communicate with the adjuster on a regular basis. Don’t be afraid to check in if you haven’t received any recent updates. To avoid playing phone tag with the adjuster, consider telling them when and how you prefer to be contacted to keep your communication fluid.

Hire a public adjuster

Even if you have a solid case, hiring a public insurance adjuster can be a smart move. A public adjuster can handle difficult negotiations on your behalf, which many policyholders are not equipped to do. You might also decide to hire a public adjuster if you receive an unfair claim settlement, or if your claim is denied and you believe it should be covered. Public adjusters can potentially help you get a higher payout from your insurance company, but keep in mind that they typically charge a percentage of the final settlement.