Dealing with property damage after a storm can be overwhelming. Aside from emotional distress, homeowners and business owners in South Carolina often face complex insurance claims. During such times, many consider hiring a public adjuster to guide them through the process. If you’re on the fence, this article will provide a balanced view to help you make the best choice.
What is a Public Adjuster?
According to Title 38, Chapter 48 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, a public adjuster, by definition, is “any individual who, for salary, fee, commission, or other compensation, engages in public adjusting and who is licensed under Section 38-48-20. A public insurance adjuster is not an attorney licensed to practice by the South Carolina Supreme Court who adjusts insurance losses in the course of the practice of law. A public insurance adjuster is not an adjuster representing an insurer and is not licensed in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 47.”
The South Carolina Department of Insurance defines public adjusters as independent insurance professionals who advocate for you, assisting in the filing, investigating, appraising, and settlement of a claim. Before you hire one, consider the following benefits and disadvantages.
Pros of Hiring a Public Adjuster
- Expertise in Claims. Public adjusters understand the complex language of insurance policies and ensure that you get the compensation you deserve.
- Time-saving. With their expertise, public adjusters can expedite the claims process, letting you focus on rebuilding and returning to normalcy.
- Maximizes Your Settlement. They negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, often resulting in a higher payout than if you had navigated the process alone.
- Professional Assessment. Public adjusters conduct an independent evaluation of your damages, ensuring nothing is overlooked.
- Peace of Mind. Knowing that a professional is handling your claim can reduce your stress during an already difficult time.
Cons of Hiring a Public Adjuster
- Fees. Public adjusters charge for their services, typically a percentage of your claim amount. While they can secure higher settlements, you’ll need to factor in their fees.
- Not Always Necessary. For minor damages or straightforward claims, hiring a public adjuster might not be ideal.
- Potential for Miscommunication. Introducing another party can sometimes lead to miscommunication between you, your insurance company, and the adjuster.
- Varying Quality. As with any profession, the expertise and efficacy of public adjusters can vary. It’s vital to research and choose a reputable adjuster. Here’s a list of licensed public adjusters in South Carolina.
Tips to Avoid Scams
Regrettably, there are instances where individuals might exploit others during their recovery process. It’s always crucial to protect your personal information, but it becomes even more vital after a natural disaster. To avoid scams, here are some tips from the South Carolina Department of Insurance.
- During the recovery process, you’ll be talking to many people like government officials, banks, insurance companies, and repair guys. Always ask for identification and double-check who they are before you share any information, especially personal and financial details. You can call their company to verify their identity.
- If you’re sharing information, do it securely. If someone’s repairing your home, don’t pay in full upfront. Always get an agreement/contract on paper first before the work starts.
Deciding whether to hire a public adjuster is a personal choice that should be based on the nature of your claim and your comfort level with the claims process. However, remember that recovering from a storm is not just about paperwork; it’s about restoring your property to its original state.
If you’ve faced damages from the recent storm in South Carolina and are looking for expert restoration services, consider ServiceMaster of the Upstate. We specialize in water and storm damage restoration in Greenville, SC and have been serving South Carolina residents with dedication and excellence. Trust in our experienced team to bring your property back to life.