What Is A Public Adjuster

A public adjuster is an insurance claims adjuster who advocates for the policyholder in evaluating and negotiating an insurance claim in conjunction with the insurance company’s adjuster. In New York State, aside from attorneys, public adjusters licensed by the Department of Financial Services are the only type of claims adjuster that can legally represent the rights of an insured during a first party insurance claim process. Public Adjusters in New York charge a percentage of the settlement (with the percentage being capped at 12.5% but subject to negotiation).  Normally smaller claims are handled at higher percentages than larger claims.

Primarily public adjusters read the policy of insurance to interpret coverage issues, evaluate the damage, prepare an estimate and gather other claim documentation, and negotiate with the insurance company’s adjuster.

There are three classes of insurance claims adjusters: staff adjusters (directly employed by an insurance company or self-insured entity), independent adjusters (independent contractors hired by the insurance company) and public adjusters (directly employed by the policyholder). “Company” or “independent” adjusters can only legally represent the rights of an insurance company.


The public adjuster’s main responsibilities are to:

  • Evaluate existing insurance policies in order to determine what coverage may be applicable to a claim
  • Research, detail, and substantiate damage to buildings and contents and any additional expenses
  • Evaluate business interruption losses and extra expense claims for businesses
  • Determine values for settling covered damages
  • Prepare, document and support the claim on behalf of the insured
  • Negotiate a settlement with the insurance company on behalf of an insured with the insured’s consent.


Typically policyholders hire a public adjuster to document and expedite their claims, obtain a more satisfactory claim recovery, more quickly and completely restore their residence or business operations, and insulate themselves from the stress of engaging in an adversarial process with a large corporation.


In New York, public adjusters are licensed by the Department of Financial Services, Insurance Division.  See our “Resources” tab to obtain information on how to contact that department to determine if a public adjuster you are considering has a valid license or to register a complaint against an insurance company or adjuster.  Additionally the New York Public Adjusters Association requires its public adjuster members to hold a current license and provides a non-binding grievance procedure for handling complaints from consumers as well as other adjusters. You may refer to the New York Public Adjusters Association’s mission statement for additional information.