Maryland Law

Should I Hire a Public Adjuster to Help Me Settle My Claim?

       Dealing with the loss to your home, contents or other property after a major storm, hurricane, fire, or theft can be overwhelming. While many consumers are able to resolve their property claims by dealing with their insurance company and the insurance company’s adjuster on their own, sometimes consumers or businesses will decide they would prefer that someone else handle the insurance claim on their behalf.

 

These people who represent the policyholder with regard to the claim against an insurance company are known as “Public Adjusters”.

 

You can hire a Public Adjuster to act on your behalf to process and negotiate your claim with the insurance company.

 

A Public Adjuster is an insurance claim adjuster who, for compensation, acts as an advocate for the policyholder in appraising and negotiating a first-party property insurance claim under a property and casualty policy that insures the policyholder’s real or personal property, other than a motor vehicle insurance policy.

The Public Adjuster's main responsibilities may include:  evaluating an insurance policy in order to determine what coverage(s) may be applicable; researching, detailing, and substantiating damage to buildings and contents and any additional expenses incurred by the policyholder; evaluating business interruption losses and extra expense claims for businesses; determining values for settling covered damage claims; preparing, documenting and supporting the claim(s) on behalf of the policyholder; or negotiating a settlement with the insurance company on behalf of the policyholder.

 

Before hiring a Public Adjuster, you should be aware that under Maryland law, a Public Adjuster must: be licensed by the Maryland Insurance Administration; 200 St. Paul Place, Suite 2700 Baltimore, Maryland 21202 Direct Dial: 410-468-2000 Fax: 410-468-2020 1-800-492-6116 TTY: 1-800-735-2258 www.insurance.maryland.gov prior to entering a contract with the policyholder, provide the policyholder with an explanation of the types of adjusters involved in the claims process and the insured’s rights to communicate directly with the insurer or its agents about settlement of the claims process and obtain the policyholder’s signature on the form;  provide the policyholder with a written contract disclosing:

a. the terms of the contract;

b. the right to rescind or cancel the contract within 3 business days of signing;

c. that out-of-pocket expenses incurred by the Public Adjuster and approved by the insured will be reimbursed out of the insurance proceeds;

d. any compensation the Public Adjuster is to receive for services; and

e. the disclosure of any direct or indirect financial interest that the Public Adjuster or any immediate family member has with any other party who is involved in any aspect of the claim, including but not limited to the ownership of, or any compensation expected to be received from, any construction firm, salvage firm, building appraisal firm, motor vehicle repair shop, or any other firm that provides estimates for work or performs any work in conjunction with damages caused by the insured loss on which the public adjuster is engaged; and

f. the insured’s rights under the Maryland Consumer Protection Act. keep financial and business records and establish a separate escrow account for the policyholder’s proceeds.

 

The primary difference between a Public Adjuster and a claims adjuster that works for the insurance company is that the Public Adjuster works for the policyholder and is paid by the policyholder, and not the insurance company.

The Public Adjuster acts as the policyholder’s representative in dealings with the insurance company and the policyholder agrees to allow the Public Adjuster to make decisions regarding the claim on his or her behalf.

Most Public Adjusters charge a fee based upon a percentage of the settlement. This fee is paid by the policyholder, not the insurance company, and the amount is deducted from the settlement payments made by your insurance company.

The amount of the Public Adjuster’s fee is negotiable and the amount or percentage is not set by law.

 Also, you should be aware that under Maryland law, while a Public Adjuster may be named as a co-payee on a settlement check, a Public Adjuster contract may not require the insurance company claim check to be made out only in the name of the Public Adjuster, or allow a Public Adjuster to collect the entire fee from the first check issued by an insurance company if multiple checks are to be issued.

You should also remember that you have the right to cancel a contract with a Public Adjuster within three (3) business days after it has been executed without penalty to you.

If you hire a Public Adjuster, you should understand that your insurance company may or may not agree with that person’s estimate of your damage.

The insurance company is obligated to settle your claim in accordance with the terms and conditions of the policy it issued to you.

Before retaining the services of a Public Adjuster, you should make certain the person is licensed and in good standing.

You can do this by contacting the Maryland Insurance Administration at 800-492-6116. For more information on the claims process, please read the MIA’s Consumer Publications:  

 

Maryland  Tools For Loss Management

What to Do After a Loss, available at

www.insurance.maryland.gov/Consumer/Documents/publications/afteraloss.pdf;

 

Weather Related Damage

 

–Frequently Asked Questions about Insurance :

www.insurance.maryland.gov/Consumer/Documents/publications/weatherloss.pdf;

 

and An Insurance Preparedness Guide for Natural Disasters, available at

www.insurance.maryland.gov/Consumer/Documents/publications/naturaldisasters. pdf;

or by contacting resources of Maryland at 800-492-6116. We are also available to help answer your questions.

 

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This is the blurb on the home page of the Mexico Beach website: WE ARE UNFORGETTABLE#LOVEMEXICOBEACHUnfortunately, due to Hurricane Michael—a Category 4 storm which made landfall in Mexico Beach, Florida, on October 10, 2018—most of the area saw major destruction. Rest assured that we are a strong, resilient community and we will come back from this better than ever before. While there are obstacles in front of us, we will get back to that place—that place that makes Mexico Beach unforgettable. We would also like to thank all those who have offered their support, time, manual labor, and supplies in the wake of the hurricane. Your help has meant everything to us!Sincerely,Kimberly Shoaf, president of the Mexico Beach Community Development Council Righteous Claim Solutions is a premiere Public Adjuster company helping with the recovery and rebuilding efforts in Mexico Beach. Jack Taylor is one of the most honorable and respected men in the entire industry. Mexico Beach was devastated by Hurricane Michael. It’s been over two months since this catastrophic event and the rebuilding is moving forward. The before and after photos are incredible – and very sad. The Florida panhandle has always been a favorite destination for travelers in Georgia, Alabama, Texas, and beyond – even Canada. Hwy 98 is the main corridor thru Mexico Beach – it still looks like a bomb exploded. If you are someone you know need assistance with estimates and other services. Do not let thousands of dollars be remiss in your settlement when a simple consultation can be the difference. In the meantime our prayers are with everyone impacted by this devastating storm. Jack TaylorRighteous Claim Solutions 

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