Ike Puts Spotlight on Public Adjusters

Floodwaters from Hurricane Ike didn’t spare Farley Fontenot’s sail-making business in Seabrook, his La Porte home or his van.

Winds sent a pine tree crashing through the back of his house. Overwhelmed by the number of insurance claims and companies he’d have to deal with, he hired his own independence adjuster, known as a public adjuster, to do much of it for him. “I felt like I wanted to hire somebody that does this for a living and so they will fight for the rights of their clients,” Fontenot said. “I thought I was on top of it until Ike damaged my house, my cars and the business.” Policyholders hire public adjusters – for a fee capped by state law at 10 percent of the claims settlement – to comb over policies and damaged property and present their case to the insurer. fort worth public adjuster

They’re often hired when a policyholder doesn’t want to handle the claims process, thinks there’s more damage than the insurance company’s adjuster found or thinks the insurer made a lowball offer.

Insurance companies however, discourage the use of public adjusters, saying they can prolong the claims process and charge a fee for something insurance companies have already been paid to do.

“Public adjusters provide a service, but a clear majority of the time the homeowner doesn’t need them,” sad Mark Hanna, a spokesman for the Insurance Council of Texas, an industry trade group. “They just need to sit down with the insurance company and they’ll work things out. Public adjusters say they’re not burdened by the obligations.

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