This information will assist property owners who suffer fire damage or flood damage. This guide will provide answers to some questions about Public Adjusters. Further questions can be answered by calling our Law Offices.
What is a public adjsuter? How are they different from company adjusters from my insurance company
This information was developed to provide consumers with general information and guidance about insurance coverage and laws. It is not intended to provide a legal advice or formal, definitive description or interpretation of the Illinois Department Insurance Policies. For specific information of the Illinois Department of Insurance on any policy - on any issue, regulated entities (insurance industry) and interested parties you should contact the State of Illinois Department of Insurance or speak with an Attorney. You need to have all the facts and understand how the process works.
Fires and natural disasters are unforeseen and unpredictable, and the recovery process can be overwhelming. If you're Business, property or home was insured you will need to work with the insurance company and through the claims process. You may be approached by an "insurance adjuster" who claims he or she can obtain a more favorable settlement from your insurance company. You should always be sure to run back ground checks and seek references. Check with the Better Business Bureau, the Illinois Department of Insurance and ask your Attorney to look into the matter. Be careful of any individual offering a service or benefit that sounds or appears "too good to be true" and contact the Illinois Department of Insurance before entering into a contract or formal agreement that raises questions or suspicion.
This fact sheet provides information about public adjusters and answers some frequently asked questions. For more information please visit http://www.insurance.illinois.gov or call the Department toll-free at (866) 445-5364. Or ask to speak with a representative of Harris Claims Services. Call 847-329-8444 or visit www.HarrisClaimsServices.com
There are three types of insurance adjusters. Some work for the property onwner only.
A "company adjuster" is an employee of your insurance company. They represent the interest of the insurance company and are paid by the insurance company. They will not charge you a fee.
An "independent adjuster" is hired on a contract basis by your insurance company to represent the insurance company's interest in the settlement of your claim. They are paid by your insurance company. They will not charge you a fee.
A "public adjuster" does not work for any insurance company, is not a public employee, and does not work on behalf of the State of Illinois, Department of Insurance, or any other public agency. They work for you to assist in the preparation, presentation and settlement of your claim. You hire a public adjuster by signing a contract agreeing to pay a fee or commission based on a percentage of your settlement, or other method of compensation.
DO I HAVE TO HIRE A PUBLIC ADJUSTER TO DEAL WITH MY INSURANCE COMPANY?
No. However, many consumers find that the services offered by public adjusters can be of a benefit if that Public Adjuster is qualified and has then knowledge and integrity to get the job done. Unfortunately, many of the Public Adjusters in the Chicago Land area are not qualified, and do not have the knowledge. Note if it is a legal issue you need to retain an attorney and not a public adjuster. Attorneys are not public adjusters trained in the area of estimating and adjusting losses. But an attorney can handle a legal issue sometimes there is an overlap. The author of this guide is both and attorney and public adjuster.
IS A PUBLIC ADJUSTER'S FEE COVERED IN MY INSURANCE POLICY?
No. Insurance policies do not cover the fees of a public adjuster. However, a good Public adjuster will earn his fee in the recovery he makes by increasing the claim.
HOW DOES A PUBLIC ADJUSTER GET PAID
You must pay for the services provided by a public adjuster. Typically, public adjuster's charge a fee equal to a certain percentage of the claim paid by your insurance company.
ARE PUBLIC ADJUSTER FEES NEGOTIABLE? How do i know i can trust them? Should I run a back ground chec
Yes. All fees charged by the public adjuster can and should be negotiated. Take your time and interview a few companies and of course seek legal counsel to do a back ground check on any company you are considering. Many public adjusters in Illinois tend to be simply repair contractors. Some have not even passed the public adjuster exam and found loop holes in which to get licensed. Some Public Adjusting companies are not even controlled or owned by a Licensed Public Adjuster but rather a contractor, who may or may not have been charged with insurance fraud or other crimes. The simple fact is you need to do your homework, meet the owners, and speak with an attorney to run a back ground check on any one you are thinking about trusting hundreds of thousands of dollars with. The person you hire will have their name place on your insurance settlement check.
DO I HAVE TO SIGN A CONTRACT WITH A PUBLIC ADJUSTER?
Yes. Illinois law requires the public adjuster to provide you with a written contract that specifies the services the public adjuster will provide for you and any salary, fee, commission, compensation or other consideration he or she will receive for those services. The contract you sign with the public adjuster is binding and can only be canceled by certified mail within 5 business days after the date the contract was signed.
ARE THERE RESTRICTIONS ON WHEN A PUBLIC ADJUSTER CAN SOLICIT ME?
Yes. A public adjuster cannot solicit you while a "loss-producing occurrence," such as a fire, is continuing or while the fire department or its representatives are engaged at your property. A public adjuster is also prohibited from soliciting your business between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. If a public adjuster approaches you during these times you should report him or her to the Department. If you have been approached by a Public Adjuster during these illegal hours do not sign a contract with them and immediately report them to the Illinois Department of Insurance.
Call Consumer Services Section at (312) 814-2427 or Consumer Assistance Hotline Toll Free at (866) 445-5364 Or visit website at http://insurance.illinois.gov
ARE THERE STANDARDS OF CONDUCT THAT A PUBLIC ADJUSTER MUST FOLLOW?
Yes. A public adjuster is required to serve with objectivity and complete loyalty for your interests alone and to render to you such information, counsel, and service as will best serve your insurance claim needs and interests.
DOES A PUBLIC ADJUSTER HAVE TO BE LICENSED?
Yes. Illinois law
requires public adjusters to be licensed with the Department of Insurance. Contact the Department at (866) 445-5364 to verify that the public adjuster is licensed and in good standing before signing any contract. Make sure you see a proper License. Also ask if they passed the Public Adjusters Exam. Some have not and still were granted a License. Check to see if they have ever been charged with a crime.
WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION?
Useful information on insurance coverage and how to handle the insurance claims process can be found in the Illinois Department of Insurance's consumer fact sheet entitled "When Disaster Strikes - What to do After an Insured Homeowners Loss." The fact sheet can be found on the Department's website, http://www.insurance.illinois.gov, or by clicking here. A list of agencies and organizations available to help ease the burdens caused by a major disaster can be found on our website or by clicking here. Harris Claims Services has posted videos on the internet and information can be found at the web page. www.HarrisClaimsServices.com and the law offices of Jason Harris at www.JasonHarrisLaw.com
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