Having insurance is an essential part of maintaining a healthy financial life. You never know what unexpected events could suddenly darken your doorstep. A distracted driver, a thief or natural disaster could leave you unable to replace or repair your belongings or to pay huge medical bills.
When you encounter an unforeseen event and file an insurance claim, it’s important to understand the settlement process. The person who holds the fate of your insurance case in his or her hands is called an adjuster.
An adjuster may be an employee of your insurance company or an independent person who works with different insurers. They typically work on car and home insurance cases, but also may get involved with other types of claims.
Your insurance adjuster will document the damage to your property, take photos and ask questions. He or she may also consult with building contractors or auto mechanics to determine the cost of repairs.
An adjuster’s job is to evaluate the merits of each claim, make recommendations to the insurance company and ultimately settle valid claims with a fair payout.
Seven ways to get a fair insurance settlement
To work effectively with your insurance adjuster and get a fair settlement, follow these seven tips:
- Read your policy carefully so you understand what’s covered. Of course, doing this before you ever need to file a claim is always best.
- Keep an inventory of your belongings, update it every year, and keep it in a safe place so it will be at your fingertips (and cut headaches) when you sustain an insurance loss.
- Get contact information for the insurance adjuster and his or her supervisor the first time you speak. Ask for direct phone numbers so you can reach someone right away if you have concerns about your claim.
- Ask questions if you’re unsure about the claims process. Find out what your claim number is, who’s responsible for collecting repair estimates, how your settlement amount will be calculated and how long the entire process should take.
- Call your agent for help communicating with the adjuster if you can’t reach him or her. Agents also may negotiate on your behalf if you think your settlement offer is too low.
- Dispute your claim with the insurance adjuster or the supervisor if you don’t think your settlement is fair.
- Hire an attorney to negotiate your case with the insurance company if there’s a large amount of money at stake.