A fire adjuster investigates claims of damage to insured property after a fire. The adjuster evaluates the severity of property damage or loss and determines the cost of repairs or replacements. The fire adjuster works with the property owner and the insurance company to decide the amount of the settlement that the property owner will receive. If the adjuster feels it is necessary, such as if there are suspicious circumstances, he or she can refer a case for further investigation.
The fire adjuster handles every detail of claims, assessing the fire area for structural failure, water damage, smoke damage and partial or total loss. The adjuster is responsible for deciding whether a structure are able to be repaired or whether it must be replaced and rebuilt. The adjuster also determines other possible parts of a claim, such as the loss of use of the damaged structure.
Also included in the fire adjuster's evaluation are the contents of the damaged structure and whether they are damaged beyond repair or destroyed. The fire adjuster must assign monetary values to each part of the claim. These values are used in determining the amount of money that the property owner will receive from the insurance company in a settlement.
Although they may report to an office for assignments, some fire adjusters simply call from home to get a list of assignments for the day. A fire adjuster typically spends a large percentage of their working time visiting claim sites. They must be careful while spending time in damaged buildings. There are many possible hazards, such roof or floor collapse, as well as general weakening of the structure. A fire adjuster has many forms to fill out, and at times will consult with other professionals like builders and architects in the process of completing a claim.
There are two groups for which a fire adjuster can work. In the most common situations, an adjuster will be an employee of an insurance company or will be an independent adjuster who works for the insurance company as an independent contractor. In either of these instances, the adjuster will be concerned primarily with the interests of the insurance company, but he or she is obligated to be fair to the property owner.
In the case of very large or complicated claims, or if the property owner thinks that the insurance company's settlement offer is unfair, the property owner can hire a public adjuster. The public adjuster's role is to look out for the interests of the property owner and to try to negotiate the best settlement possible for the. In return for their services public adjusters usually are paid a percentage of the settlement they obtain.
Although many insurance companies prefer to hire those who are college graduates or have experience in the insurance field, there are no standard educational requirements to become a fire adjuster. Minimal requirements for this career simply are a high school diploma and a driver's license. The skills and knowledge that are needed can be learned through on-the-job training. A degree in fire science is useful for an adjuster, as is knowledge of engineering, building construction and architecture. Many places require some type of license, although regulations vary by region and locality.