Few disasters can leave your life upside down as quickly as a flood. In many cases, a flood damage insurance claims adjuster will show up to assess the situation. Regardless of your role, you'll likely benefit from understanding who an adjuster is and what they will do.
Who Is the Adjuster?
Most adjusters are independent parties who've been contracted to provide assessments of claims. Some insurance companies pay for in-house adjusters, but many prefer to pay for services from third parties.
Although people generally picture adjusters as insurance companies' agents, other parties can hire them, too. For example, a claimant might hire a flood claims adjuster to provide a second opinion. Self-insuring entities can also hire adjusters to provide them with figures for business and tax purposes, usually writing down damages for reporting purposes.
What Does the Adjuster Do?
Two jobs dominate the world of the adjuster. First, they're often asked to determine whether a claim is legitimate. They may visit a site to figure out what happened and whether it is covered by an insurance policy.
Second, an adjuster is typically authorized to make a settlement offer if the legitimacy of a claim checks out. This means they'll have to calculate what the value of the property was before it was damaged. If any of the damage was the fault of the claimant, they'll also have to determine what percentage of fault was involved. They will then deduct that percentage from the offer before making it.
How Does the Adjuster Accomplish This?
Most adjusters work from data tables that allow them to quickly assess claims. For example, they might have data compiled from previous claims in the region that show what the typical payment was for damages at a property similar to the claimants' place.
In some cases, they may have to research what it would cost to replace the items identified in the claim. Depreciation is almost always applied, too.
Does the Adjuster Have a Fiduciary Duty to Anyone?
No, an adjuster is usually under no legally-binding obligation to maximize value for their client or employer. Their first duty is to provide an honest assessment of what happened at a location, with an eye toward things like fraud and negligence. Notably, the adjuster isn't allowed to consider weak evidence of either. Unless there is strong evidence of extensive fault or wrongdoing in the events leading up to the flood, the adjuster has to try to fairly settle all valid claims.