Homeowners who face repair projects following this weekend’s storms should take steps to protect themselves financially, urges Maryland Insurance Commissioner Therese M. Goldsmith. Home repair fraud tends to increase after widespread damage. Consumers should follow the steps below when choosing whether to hire contractors and insurance claims adjusters:
While many consumers are able to resolve their property claims by dealing with their insurance company and the assigned adjuster on their own, sometimes consumers or businesses will decide they would prefer that someone else handle the insurance claim on their behalf. You can hire a public adjuster to act on your behalf to process and negotiate your claim with the insurance company.
What is a public adjuster?
Public adjusters are licensed by the Maryland Insurance Administration to work for you. They are different than claims adjusters, who work for insurance companies. Public adjusters appraise damage, prepare an estimate of the cost to repair, prepare an inventory, and process claim documentation. They are paid by you, not the insurance company. The amount of the public adjuster’s fee is negotiable and is not set by law. Under Maryland law, you have the right to cancel a contract with a public adjuster within three business days without penalty to you.
If you hire a public adjuster, your insurance company may or may not agree with that person’s estimate of your damage. Your insurer is not obligated to accept the damages that are claimed by a public adjuster. The insurance company is obligated to settle your claim in accordance with the terms and conditions of the policy it issued to you.
Repair or rebuild?
The Maryland Insurance Administration has information available on its website, www.insurance.maryland.gov, to help you understand the claim process and what steps you can take to resolve your claim. Under Hot Topics, click on Insurance Preparedness for Natural Disasters to find brochures on what to do after a loss, weather-related damage, and frequently asked questions about insurance coverage.
To check on a contractor’s license, call the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation at 410-230-6001. To verify that a public adjusters’ license is in good standing, call the Maryland Insurance Administration at 1-800-492-6116.
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200 St. Paul Place, Suite 2700, Baltimore, MD 21202
410-468-2000 | 1-800-492-6116 (toll free) | 1-800-735-2258 (TTY)