August 15, 2010

The Role Of An Adjuster In An Auto Insurance Claim

An auto insurance quote relies not only on the market value of the vehicle to be insured, but also on variables such as the age, gender, marital status and geographical location of the person to be insured. Once these variables are considered, settling on an auto insurance quote amount is often a straightforward matter with little or no negotiation involved. On the other hand, determining the amount to be paid on a claim to the insured for damage done to his or her vehicle is a more complex process. In such a situation, an insurance adjuster is necessary because of the inherently conflicting interests of the insured and the insurance company. The insured wants to be compensated as much as possible for the loss, and the insurance company does not want to pay out on a claim any more than is necessary.

Once a claim is made by an insured driver, an insurance adjuster takes the claim and investigates the cause and the damage. This investigation includes a direct inspection of the damage for which the insurance adjuster will make an assessment based on the criteria set by the insurance company. The investigation also includes direct interviews with the claimant, any witnesses and any experts who might be helpful in the investigation. For example, an architect or engineer might be helpful as a consultant if the accident involved a building. The insurance adjuster will also research any documents related to the accident. These documents might include police records and hospital records. Once the investigation is complete, the information is gathered into a report to be used as the basis for determining the amount that the insurance company is willing to pay on the claim.

Unlike an auto insurance quote, which is seldom, if ever, open to negotiation, sometimes an insured driver will hire an independent insurance adjuster to negotiate with the insurance company on his or her behalf. This is more common in claims related to significant property damage or when injury to the claimant is involved and the cost of hiring an independent insurance adjuster is worth the expense. Just as in the case of the insurance adjuster who works for the insurance company, the independent adjuster working for the insured goes through the same process of inspecting damage, interviewing the claimant and witnesses, and consulting official records and experts to develop a report. The difference is that this report is used to negotiate the claimant's award with the insurance company.

The insurance adjuster is more than a paper shuffler, and depending on the size of the claim, may even recruit the aid of specialists to appraise damage, examine health records, or research medical, legal or public record databases.