An insurance company may have its own adjusters or hire independent ones and their services are performed free of charge. In Massachusetts, consumers also have the choice of hiring a public insurance adjuster. Public insurance adjusters are licensed by the Division of Insurance (DOI). They are not affiliated with any particular insurer and charge a fee for their services, which may be up to 10% of the final recovery from the insurer.
When filing a property claim after a disaster, it is rarely a bad idea to employ a public insurance adjuster. However, it’s important that consumers remember scammers may pose as licensed professionals to take advantage of them in the aftermath of a disaster, when emotions and stress are typically heightened. They may charge an upfront fee and disappear without handling the claim, refer repairs to dishonest contractors for a kickback which may result in poor quality repairs, or file false or inflated claims against the policy.
Minimize your risk of getting scammed by a fake or unscrupulous public adjuster by:
- Checking that they hold a current public insurance adjuster’s license with the DOI.
- Checking their reputation. Are there any complaints on file about the adjuster or their services with the DOI? It’s also wise to check online review sites and forums, such as the Better Business Bureau, to see if there are any reviews or complaints.
- Asking around. Have your friends and neighbors needed a public insurance adjuster in the past? Is there someone they recommend? Does the adjuster you intend to hire have references who might be willing to speak with you?
- Having a signed and dated contract that outlines the services provided and the adjuster’s fee. And keep in mind that if you hire a licensed public adjuster to handle your claim and then change your mind, state law allows cancel your contract within 3 days, subject to any emergency expenses paid by the adjuster during those three days (this language should also be in your contract, in bold type!)
- Hiring a registered contractor for repairs. If your adjuster recommends a contractor they’ve worked with, check their registration status and complaint, arbitration, and guaranty fund histories with the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. Never hire a contractor who isn’t registered and be sure their registration is current at the time you sign your contract with them.