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  • Writer's pictureBrenda Heffner

Public Adjusters vs. Independent Adjusters: Understanding the Distinctions

In the insurance industry, the terms "public adjusters" and "independent adjusters" are often used interchangeably, leading to confusion among policyholders and claimants. While both play critical roles in the claims process, they have distinct responsibilities and affiliations. 
In this blog, we will delve into the differences between public adjusters and independent adjusters, shedding light on their roles, affiliations, and how they impact the outcome of insurance claims.

Public adjusters are licensed professionals who work on behalf of policyholders when filing and negotiating insurance claims. They act as advocates for the insured and work independently from insurance companies. Public adjusters are often hired by individuals or businesses to help navigate the complexities of the claims process and ensure that their interests are protected.

Roles and Responsibilities of Public Adjusters

Claim Assessment: Public adjusters thoroughly review the insurance policy and assess the damage or loss to determine the scope of the claim accurately.

Documentation: They assist policyholders in compiling all the necessary documentation, including photos, estimates, and any other evidence required to support the claim.

Negotiation: Public adjusters negotiate with the insurance company on behalf of the policyholder to obtain a fair and reasonable settlement. They have an in-depth understanding of insurance policies and can interpret complex policy language to maximize the claim amount.

Settlement: Once a settlement offer is reached, the public adjuster assists the policyholder in accepting the amount and closing the claim.

Fee Structure: Public adjusters are usually compensated with a percentage of the final claim settlement, which is typically agreed upon in advance.

Independent Adjusters

Independent adjusters, on the other hand, are contracted by insurance companies on a case-by-case basis to assess and investigate claims made by policyholders. Unlike public adjusters, they represent the interests of the insurance company rather than the policyholder.

Roles and Responsibilities of Independent Adjusters:

Claim Investigation: Independent adjusters are tasked with investigating the details of the claim, including the extent of the damage and whether it falls within the coverage provided by the policy.

Estimation: They evaluate the cost of repairs or replacements needed to settle the claim and provide a recommended settlement amount to the insurance company.

Claims Adjustment: Independent adjusters negotiate with the policyholder on behalf of the insurance company to reach a settlement that aligns with the terms and conditions of the insurance policy.

Documentation: They document all aspects of the claim, including the investigation process, assessment, and final settlement.

Fee Structure: Independent adjusters are compensated by insurance companies on a fee-for-service basis, and their payment is not tied to the claim amount.

Key Distinctions between Public and Independent Adjusters:

Affiliation: Public adjusters work for the policyholder and advocate for their interests, while independent adjusters are contracted by insurance companies to handle claims on their behalf.

Fee Structure: Public adjusters are paid a percentage of the final claim settlement, while independent adjusters receive compensation based on a fee-for-service model.

Allegiance: Public adjusters have an allegiance to the policyholder and work to secure the highest possible settlement, while independent adjusters prioritize the interests of the insurance company they represent.

Expertise: Both public and independent adjusters require specific knowledge of insurance policies and claim processes. Public adjusters typically have experience handling various types of claims, whereas independent adjusters may specialize in specific types of insurance.


Understanding the distinctions between public adjusters and independent adjusters is essential for policyholders and claimants seeking a smooth and successful claims process. Public adjusters act as advocates for the policyholder, working diligently to maximize the settlement amount, while independent adjusters serve the interests of the insurance company that hired them. When navigating an insurance claim, it is vital to recognize which type of adjuster is involved and to be aware of your rights and options as a policyholder.

As insurance claims can be complex and overwhelming, seeking professional assistance from a qualified public adjuster can significantly impact the outcome of your claim. Remember to review your insurance policy thoroughly, maintain detailed documentation of losses, and consider enlisting the services of a reputable public adjuster to ensure a fair and satisfactory resolution to your insurance claim.


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