Fires and natural disasters are unforeseen and unpredictable, and the recovery process can be overwhelming. If your property or home was insured you will have to work through your company’s claims process, and 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 suspicious of any individual offering a service or benefit that sounds or appears “too good to be true” and contact the Department before entering into a contract or formal agreement that raises questions or suspicion.
What is an adjuster?
There are three types of insurance adjusters:
- 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. Many consumer find that the services offered by public adjusters can be performed, for free, by trained insurance company staff. You may wish to speak with Department staff before engaging the services of a public adjuster.
Your insurance company also has knowledgeable claim adjusters who are available to assist you with the claim process.
Is a public adjuster’s fee covered in my insurance policy?
No. Insurance policies do not cover the fees of a public adjuster.
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. In other words, after your insurance company settles your insurance claim, the public adjuster could take a percentage of that settlement.
Are public adjuster fees negotiable?
Yes. All fees charged by the public adjuster can and should be negotiated.
Who will my insurance company work with after I hire a public adjuster?
Once you sign a contract with a public adjuster, the public adjuster will notify your insurance company, who will then send all correspondence to your public adjuster. You should ask the public adjuster to routinely update you on the progress of your claim. The insurance proceeds will be sent to you and you must then give the adjuster the fee that you agreed to on the contract with him.
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 which has been approved by the Director of Insurance. The contract should specify 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.
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.
Where can I find more information?
Useful information on insurance coverage and how to handle the insurance claims process can be found here: Disasters