Personal injury attorney Brian T. Allen offers an answer to the question:
Q: Should I use a private adjuster instead of a lawyer to help with my insurance claim?
A: Most of the time, when people use the term “adjuster,” they are talking about an employee or agent of an insurance company. However, the term “private adjuster” usually refers to a person who helps insurance claimants, not insurance companies, with their claims. Private adjusters can be helpful under the right circumstances, but those circumstances are limited. According to Arizona law (ARS §20-321), a private adjuster can only adjust, investigate, or negotiate claims “arising under property and casualty insurance contracts on behalf of either the insurer or the insured.” This type of claim, between and insured person and his or her own insurance company, is called a first-party claim. A common type of first-party claim is when an insured person makes a fire damage claim under his or her homeowner policy. Under these limited circumstances, a claimant may benefit from the help of a private adjuster. However, problems can arise when a private adjuster attempts to represent people in third-party claims. The most common example of a third-party claim is when an accident victim makes an injury claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Arizona law is very clear that a private adjuster who attempts to represent a third-party claimant is participating in the unauthorized practice of law. The Arizona Department of Insurance made this very clear when it stated that ARS §20-321
unambiguously limits a licensed adjuster to first-party representation…[A] licensed adjuster is not authorized to represent third-party claimants. In addition to the clear statutory language on this point, the limitation to first-party adjusting is well established as a matter of industry custom and practice. (Arizona Department of Insurance Circular Letter 2000-11, dated September 20, 2000.)
So, if a person is looking for help in making a first-party claim, a private adjuster may be a cost-effective option. However, consumers should be aware that if a private adjuster offers representation in a third-party claim, he or she is violating the law.
Like with most things in life, the more information you have about a person offering his or her services the better off you will be when it comes time to make a decision about who to trust. So, before you trust your insurance claim to a private adjuster, make sure that the adjuster understands and can explain to you the boundaries within which he or she can work. Also remember that most attorneys who represent insurance claimants will offer a free initial consultation. As a result, in most cases, the best course of action is to talk to an attorney first before hiring a private adjuster. Once you have all the necessary information, you can make an informed decision.
If you or someone you know has a question about an insurance claim, call attorney Brian Allen at (480) 461-5335 or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation to discuss your rights and option.
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Private Adjuster vs. Attorney and Insurance Claims, or any other personal injury, please feel free to contact Brian T. Allen at 480.461.5335, log on to udallshumway.com, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.