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Sometimes, in the cases of a dispute over a claim, people choose to use a public adjuster. This person has no affiliation with your insurance company. They will help to assess damages and losses suffered by you after an earthquake or other disaster, for example.
Public adjusters will charge a fee, usually a percentage of the total settlement. The fees charged will vary from person to person, however the state government will usually regulate the fee they are allowed to charge victims of a natural disaster immediately following the event.
If you choose to use a public adjuster during the claims process, do your homework. You don't want to just pick one out of the phone book or the first Web site you come across. Contact your state's Department of Insurance for a list of qualified public adjusters. An unqualified individual will only slow down the insurance claims process and cost you time and money.