Q. My brother and sister-in-law own a home in the Lower Bucks County area. Their home was one of the many homes that sustained severe damage in the recent Hurricane Sandy.
They have been telling my husband and me about the numerous problems that they are facing since that time. They also mentioned that they have hired a Public Adjuster. Where would someone go to get information about public insurance adjusters? MFB, Plumsteadville
A. Public insurance adjusters are independent individuals who, for a fee, legally represent a person who has experienced a property, fire or casualty loss by aiding them in recovering money from their own insurance company. They are not a representative or employee of your insurance company.
For instance, after a consumer’s property sustains damage, they would sign a contract with a public adjuster agreeing that, for a percentage of what their insurance company eventually pays, the public adjuster will arrange to board up the property if necessary, take inventory of the damages, and then negotiate with the consumer’s insurance company.
This could be a convenient service for those who may not have the time and/or the desire to arrange these things themselves or to communicate directly with the insurance company.
Public adjusters are regulated and licensed by the Pennsylvania Insurance Commission. Consumers should always check to make sure an adjuster has a valid license and also note that it is against the law for a public adjustor to solicit a consumer within 24 hours of a catastrophe.
Once you do sign a contract, remember that you have three (3) calendar days in which to cancel or rescind the contract with the public adjuster. As with any contract, consumers are urged to take their time and read all of the fine print. It is also very important to be aware of everything that transpires between the public adjuster and your insurance company.
Never sign over power of attorney to an adjuster granting them permission to endorse any checks that you may receive from your insurance company. Pay close attention to the work that is being performed and what is being paid out and to whom for the repairs. Although emotions can run high after suffering a loss, don’t allow yourself to feel pressured into signing immediately.
For more information about public adjusters visit www.insurance.pa.gov or contact the Pennsylvania Insurance Department’s Bureau of Consumer Services toll free at 1-877-881-6388.