Anyone who has found themselves at odds with their insurance provider knows how hard it is to go it alone against a big insurance company and their hired gun legal team. But when these policyholders look for help, they are presented with very two different avenues which they can use to help them win their case: hire a public adjuster or hire an attorney. Which should a policyholder choose? Which is the right choice?
It’s a common question we hear from people who find us online: should a policyholder hire a lawyer or a public adjuster? Depending upon your case, there are several reasons it makes sense to seek assistance from a lawyer:
- A lawyer can handle your claim from start to finish. This is the most important distinction between the two options. Public adjusters can be helpful in assessing whether you have a case and can attempt to negotiate a favorable resolution if the insurance company agrees to work with them. But that’s really all they can do for you. “Although a public adjuster can be useful to a consumer when initially dealing with an insurance company, a public adjuster cannot file a lawsuit or otherwise represent the consumer in a legal capacity. They have a more limited tool set than an attorney and the insurance companies know it and can act accordingly.” In fact, our firm routinely works with public adjusters when the public adjuster has reached the limits of their tools and abilities.
So while a public adjuster can sometimes get results when an insurer is willing to play nice and work with the adjuster to reach a fair settlement, they cannot do anything when insurance companies dig their heels in and stand firm. For example, say that you had hired a public adjuster to attempt to negotiate a claim. If they’re unsuccessful and you need legal help, you will wind up paying much more than if you had hired an attorney in the first place. Why? “Unfortunately in many of these instances the public adjuster will still insist upon being paid their full fee even though they were unsuccessful at getting the claim resolved, adding to the expense of resolving the claim.” This combined effort will also add to the time it takes to get to a resolution. To prevent this risk it makes sense to work with a lawyer who can go the distance for one agreed upon fee.
- Lawyers with insurance experience can hire an independent expert loss consultant to help assess damage to determine the merits of each claim. One of the common complaints about Public Adjusters is that they will attempt to inflate a claim’s value and then settle for a fraction of their original estimate. Having an expert that is not incentivized to increase a claim value allows your lawyer to negotiate aggressively with your insurance company, since we know the evidence is strong and also unbiased.
This helps us to build a more comprehensive case, saves our clients money, and saves them the step of hiring a public adjuster and then needing to find a lawyer later.
- Hiring a lawyer can also serve as a statement of intent to your insurance company. Nothing says “I am serious about the matter” quite like notice that you have retained a lawyer to represent you.
They will know in no uncertain terms that you are serious about fighting for your claim. Retaining a lawyer may also help expedite the claims process, as insurance companies rarely want to enter a lengthy and expensive litigation. “Sometimes the message you send by hiring a lawyer will have the insurance company reconsider their denial to avoid litigation.”
In short, hiring a public adjuster simply may not get the job done, and if that happens you will have to hire a lawyer later down the line, and you would now be responsible for paying both the adjuster and the attorney out of your settlement, leaving you with a smaller amount with which to make repairs, and delaying the already onerous process.
Should I hire a Lawyer or a Public Adjuster? Before you hire a Public Adjuster, consider that an experienced insurance dispute law firm like Daniel C. Tighe, P.A. will provide all of the services of a Public Adjuster – scoping and estimating of your damage and a low flat agreed upon fee, and also will provide all of the benefits discussed above. If you have a dispute over property damage with your insurance company, your best option will always be to seek out a qualified insurance dispute lawyer who can work to fully resolve your claim and see that you get a fair settlement.