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Dealing With Public Adjusters

"Public adjuster" firms work for building owners. For a fee, these state-licensed firms attempt to obtain coverage awards from insurance companies. They claim, I gather with at least some success, that they can obtain larger amounts compared to amounts that owners would otherwise obtain by themselves. 

Years ago I worked on a few assignments for public adjustment firms. I have also had contact with public adjusters during assignments while working for insurance companies or for other engineering firms that were hired by insurance companies.  

Such limited experience does not substantiate any general conclusion. However, just about each public adjuster I had contact with tended towards gross exaggeration, a characteristic which I gathered might just be their primary skill. 

During investigations after Hurricane Sandy, I met public adjusters from Florida representing homeowners who were living elsewhere. They made sure to point out everything they could think of to try and influence me to favor conclusion of structural damage caused by floodwater. I was quite amused to hear their bizarre theories. It was very clear they did not know much about function and behavior of structural components of buildings. 

If you are building owner, I advise that you should be skeptical about qualifications of public adjusters relative to structural damage claims. Especially if structural damage is primary focus of an insurance claim, consider retaining qualified structural engineer first to obtain evaluation of damage. 

For some cases, conditions that may at first appear to be major structural damage are not, irrespective of wild claims by public adjuster. On flip side, conditions that may appear to be minor could indicate hidden structural problem. All-too-often, in their fervor to general excitement, public adjusters fail to realize the difference.  

If you are an adjuster for insurance company, or otherwise work for insurance company, consider services of qualified structural engineer to minimize risk that public adjusters greatly and unfairly inflate structural damage claims.  

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