Public Adjuster vs. Attorney: Who Should You Hire?
Megan Simonsen | Aug 16, 2023
When navigating insurance claims, many policyholders need help deciding whether to hire a public adjuster or an attorney. While both professionals bring valuable expertise, understanding their roles and specialties will help you determine which is best for your situation.
In this blog post, we’ll compare public adjusters vs. attorneys, so you can make an informed choice that maximizes your chances of success in your insurance claim journey.
A claims specialist can save you money and expedite the settlement process if successfully negotiated; otherwise, the claim may end up costing you more in the long term.
Best for claims with significant or complex damage, like a fire.
Legal experts can increase the value of your claim through legal proceedings, if required. Pursuing a legal route may result in a longer and more expensive process.
Best for denied, underpaid, or delayed property insurance claims.
Comparing Public Adjusters vs. Attorneys
Public adjusters and attorneys bring unique qualities and expertise to the table when it comes to assisting with insurance claims. While they both play crucial roles, they possess fundamentally different skill sets that can greatly impact the outcome of your claim. Hiring a public adjuster or an attorney depends on the specific circumstances of the claim, the complexity of the case, and the policyholder's preferences and needs.
What Is a Public Adjuster?
A public adjuster is a licensed professional who advocates for policyholders during the insurance claim process. They specialize in assessing property damages, interpreting insurance policies, and negotiating settlements with insurance companies.
Public adjusters work independently of insurance companies and are hired by the policyholder. Their main goal is to ensure a fair and accurate evaluation of the damages and to maximize the claim payout for the policyholder.
The Pros of Hiring a Public Adjuster
- Expertise in insurance claims: Public adjusters specialize in this field and understand policy terms, coverages, and claims processes. They know how to navigate complex insurance policies and communicate with insurance companies.
- Property damage assessment: Public adjusters have experience evaluating property damages and can accurately estimate the extent of the loss.
- Negotiation skills: Public adjusters are often skilled negotiators and can advocate for the policyholder's best interests during settlement discussions.
The Cons of Hiring a Public Adjuster
- Can be expensive: Public adjusters typically charge a percentage of the final claim payout as their fee, ranging from 5-20% of the settlement amount. On top of that, if a public adjuster can't get the claim approved, they will often send it to an attorney. This means that both the public adjuster and the attorney will get separate percentages of the final payout.
- Limited legal knowledge: Public adjusters lack comprehensive legal knowledge and can't provide extensive legal advice or assistance beyond the claim process. Their scope of services is limited to property damage assessment and negotiation with insurance companies.
- Dependency on the policyholder's involvement: Public adjusters require active participation from the policyholder throughout the claim process. While they handle most of the work, policyholders may need to provide relevant documentation and information and cooperate with the adjuster's requests, which can be time-consuming.
What is an Insurance Claim Attorney?
An insurance claim attorney is a legal professional who can specialize in various areas of the law, including insurance law. They’re licensed to provide legal advice, handle legal disputes, and represent clients in court.
When it comes to insurance claims, an attorney can provide legal guidance, review insurance policies, negotiate with insurance companies, and, if necessary, file a lawsuit on behalf of the policyholder.
The Pros of Hiring an Attorney
- Extensive legal expertise: Attorneys specialize in all legal aspects of insurance claims and thoroughly understand insurance laws, providing valuable legal advice, identifying issues, and protecting policyholder rights. They navigate complex legal matters, identify loopholes or bad faith practices by insurance companies, and take appropriate legal action.
- Litigation representation: In cases where negotiations fail, or the insurance company acts in bad faith, attorneys can file lawsuits on behalf of the policyholder. They can represent the policyholder in court and ensure their best interest is defended.
- Comprehensive support: Attorneys handle policy language, legal documents, and communication with insurance representatives for a comprehensive claim resolution approach.
- Access to a network of experts: Attorneys have access to a network of industry experts, including appraisers and engineers, who can provide valuable insights and evidence to bolster the policyholder's claim. These connections allow attorneys to gather expert opinions and gather strong supporting evidence, ultimately strengthening the case for the policyholder.
The Cons of Hiring an Attorney
- Higher costs: Because of their involvement and knowledge, attorneys can charge higher fees compared to public adjusters. They may charge an hourly rate or work on a retainer basis, which can be costly for some policyholders.
- However, it is important to note that most insurance lawyers (including The Lane Law Firm), work on a contingency basis. That means that any fees due to the attorney come out of the settlement, so clients never have to pay out of pocket.
- Lengthier legal process: Including an attorney in the claim process has the potential to lengthen the timeline. Legal actions, such as filing a lawsuit, can be complex and result in delays.
Should You Hire a Public Adjuster or an Attorney?
The choice between utilizing the help of a public adjuster or an attorney ultimately depends on the specific circumstances of the claim. If you have worked with a public adjuster and your claim has not been resolved to your satisfaction, you should speak to an experienced attorney who can work with that adjuster to comprehensively review your case.
In cases with complex legal issues, such as disputed liability or coverage denials, attorneys can conduct thorough research, develop strategies, file lawsuits, navigate the court system, and effectively present the policyholder's case, while public adjusters cannot.
An attorney also enhances leverage during negotiations, since insurance companies recognize their power to pursue legal action. Insurance claim attorneys handle all aspects of the claim and ensure all legal considerations are appropriately addressed.
Trust the Insurance Dispute Resolution Attorneys at The Lane Law Firm
If your home or commercial property has been affected by weather, theft, fire, or vandalism, your insurance company is supposed to help you pay for the damages. If your insurance claim has gone unpaid or underpaid, you have rights. Protect your property and get the repairs you need by working with the experienced insurance attorneys at The Lane Law Firm.
Our Texas lawyers have been fighting and winning against insurance companies since 2009 and always keep your best interest at the forefront. Let us handle your denied, underpaid, or delayed property insurance claim and get you paid, risk-free.
Schedule your free consultation with The Lane Law Firm today!