If you’ve recently had a fire affect your home in Toronto, it could be wise to look for help filing your insurance claim. The more significant your loss is, the more important it is that you have a professional on your side who can help make sense of your claim and aid in negotiations with the insurer.
Given the complexities of an insurance claim, it is worth learning more about the people who are involved in the claims process and the different professionals who can represent you.
Who Is the Insurance Adjuster?
As soon as you file a claim, the insurance company assigns an adjuster to the claim. It’s their job to assess the extent of your loss, including structural damage, lost personal belongings, and additional living expenses. As part of that job, they may:
- Hire a builder to assess structural damages or create an estimate on their own.
- Review receipts of your Additional Living Expenses.
- Evaluate your inventory of lost belongings.
The important thing to remember is that they work for the insurance company, either directly or as a third-party contractor. In either case, they may be motivated to give the insurer a lower estimate in order to secure further work from them down the line.
By hiring your own representative when you start a claim, you get help with communicating effectively with the adjuster and negotiating with the insurance company. They can review the adjuster’s work, bring in other contractors or experts, and generate a more accurate assessment of the extent of your losses.
Public Adjusters vs Insurance Lawyers
When you want someone who will represent your interests involved in the claim, you can hire either an insurance lawyer or a public adjuster in Toronto.
Public adjusters and insurance lawyers will guide you through the claims process and advocate for your interests throughout. But what is the difference between them? Public adjusters are licensed by the province in which they work. In Ontario, licenses are handled by the FSRA, and they must complete several courses to get their license.
Insurance lawyers may have more in-depth knowledge of contract law. Generally speaking, they can do all of the work a public adjuster can, but they can also represent you should you have to take a dispute with the insurer to court.
Working with a lawyer provides more consistency should the claim escalate, though they generally try to avoid those situations and aim for a smooth claims process.
When Should You Hire Help with Your Claim?
Whether or not you should get help with your claim largely depends on the size of your loss. A total or significant loss is a good reason to hire someone to help with your claim. The financial stakes are high enough that you shouldn’t try to go through the entire claims process alone.
An insurance lawyer or public adjuster can be part of the claim all the way through, but you can also call on them for help once you’ve received an offer from the insurer. If that offer seems inadequate or unreasonably low, a professional may be able to help begin negotiations.