If you’re like me, you are on a constant quest to reduce the monthly expenses of home ownership. Every tip or technique discovered to reduce the expenses in my own home are shared with my clients and radio show listeners. It is my hope that you freely share them with your friends and family to enhance their home ownership experience, while reducing their costs.

Among the most misunderstood and frustrating of homeowner expenses is insurance. Between legislative actions in Tallahassee and the response by the insurance companies it’s at times a daunting challenge just to get insurance, let alone at an affordable rate.

The ultimate insurance challenge for a homeowner is not in obtaining or retaining coverage. The ultimate challenge is in getting a prompt and proper settlement when a claim is made.

In the immediate aftermath of a fire, flood, or other destructive calamity, the initial concern is for your personal safety. Assuming you are safe, the second concern is for the loss of cherished personal possessions that money can never replace. They are gone…and even the largest of checks will not bring them back.

And now begins the rebuilding or restoration process. It is during this process that the size of the check written by the insurance company is critical as well as how soon the check is written. Your return to a happy home doesn’t really begin until you and your insurance company has come to an agreement on coverage and the cost to correct the damage to your home. The person tasked to seek that agreement is the claims adjuster.

In trying to understand the claims adjustment process I sought the expertise of Mark Goldwich. Mark has been intimately involved in the adjustment of thousands of claims for more than two decades. What makes Mark’s expertise special is his varied perspectives, having been an adjuster for a major insurance company, then having worked as an independent adjuster, and finally for more than a decade working as a public adjuster and founding President of Gold Star Adjusters.

Mark revealed insider information on this process with me that I had no idea could so dramatically impact the speed and amount of an insurance claim. Even as a homeowner for over 30 years as well as having done thousands of insurance- and wind-related inspections, I was shocked.

To my surprise all adjusters are not created equal. Beyond the differences in experience and expertise is the question “who does the adjuster work for”? It is most common that the adjuster who is sent to settle your claim is an employee of the insurance company. That does not make that person evil or dishonest, but they are clearly not your advocate.

Another common type of adjuster is known as the “independent adjuster.” Due to the word “independent” this sounds better, but Mark explained that this an adjuster who is hired by numerous insurance companies as an independent contractor, rather than as an employee of a single insurance company. Again, not evil or dishonest, but they are clearly not your advocate.

Lastly is the “public adjuster”. These are adjusters that are hired by you to represent your best interest in the claims process. Not evil or dishonest, but clearly YOUR advocate! Plus, there is typically little to no out of pocket expense – payment to the public adjuster is made as a part of the insurance settlement.

When I asked Mark Goldwich why most claims are not settled with the help of a public adjuster, Mark’s answer was that most people have never heard of a “public adjuster”! But, now you know.

Mark is a recognized expert and published author as well as educator on the subject of insurance coverage and claims. If you have an insurance claim for fire or water damage in your home, contact Mark directly [email protected] or 904-406-7232.