Recently I had a client that had a small electrical fire in their attic. Thankfully everyone is fine. We reported the claim to the carrier while the fire trucks were still there.
While I was there, I noticed 2 people parked in separate vehicles waiting for something. The fire trucks had barley left when in come the public adjustor's, one after the other, offering their services saying that the carrier would not do an adequate job of settling with them. And I thought only attorneys chased emergency vehicles!
Public adjuster's, contractors, cleaners and others are all great professionals. But there are those who swoop in, hoping to make a quick buck at your expense. Remember, your insurance carrier will send out their own adjuster free of charge. If you hire a public adjuster or other worker, it is at your expense. There have been cases where "public adjusters" have taken a large "deposit" and vanished. Other adjustor's work for you for a percentage of your settlement amount. In other words, you get $60,000 for damage to your home, and the public adjuster may get 10% of that or $6,000. Contractors, cleaners and others have used scare tactics like this too.
If you disagree with your insurance carriers estimation for repairs, you can hire a public adjuster to help you dispute your carriers calculations. But keep in mind, you are paying them out of your pocket, so be clear what they are charging you. Public adjusters have to be licensed by the state, so check with the California Dept. of Insurance to see if they are licensed and have any complaints if you decide to hire one.
Here's a couple of tips to help you try to avoid fraud:
1. Check with your insurance agent or claims representative to see if they did really send them out and to see if their work will be covered.
2. Don't sign anything from anyone that shows up at your door offering to do work. Tell them that you need to talk to your agent or claims rep and ask them to give you the paperwork so you can send it to your claims rep.
3. Check to see if they are licensed and insured or bonded. You can check on license status for most professions by going to your states website. If they are not licensed, you may want to report them to your police department.
4. If in doubt, call your claims rep, insurance agent or carriers customer service dept. and ask. Don't sign anything!