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Robbie Hoye

By: Robbie Hoye on March 20th, 2023

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Auto Adjuster vs. Auto Appraiser: What’s The Difference?

Personal Auto | Individuals & Families

If you are currently filing a claim on your auto insurance policy or are simply reviewing the claims process, you may be wondering what exactly differentiates insurance adjusters and appraisers. 

In the unfortunate event that you are involved in a car accident and must file a claim due to any damages or losses, it’s important to know the difference between these two roles and what they accomplish during the claims process. 

At Berry insurance, we understand how easy it can be to get lost in all the intricacies of insurance claims. In this article we’ll delve into the differences between adjusters and appraisers, so you can be prepared for when you need to file a claim.

What are auto adjusters? 

Auto adjusters are responsible for investigating  a claim, as well as determining the coverage and payment. Adjusters accomplish this by: 

  • Reviewing details of the claim and your policy: The adjuster assigned to your claim would first review the details of the claim you filed, looking over your auto insurance policy to determine which coverages of your policy would apply to the claim.
  • Setting up interviews: The adjuster will typically interview those involved with an accident to collect statements. This would include the claimant as well as any witnesses. Adjusters may also review any available police reports, videos of the accident, or other applicable information related to the claim. 
  • Going over all of your options: Adjusters will then reach out to you to discuss your options and whether you would wish to move forward with an appraisal. 

There are usually three different types of claims adjusters, including:

  • Company claims adjusters: Employees of the insurance company, are typically the default choice policyholders will deal with when filing an insurance claim 
  • Independent claims adjuster: This type of adjuster also works for the insurance company, but as a contractor. Independent adjusters are commonly employed by insurance companies when there is an overload of claims and their normal staff cannot keep up with the demands.
  • Public insurance adjuster: Works for the policyholder rather than the insurance company. This type of adjuster can be hired and paid by the policyholder to work on their behalf during the claims process. They charge a fee and a portion of the settlement to work alongside the insurance company adjusters. It is important to note that your insurance agent will no longer be able to help you with the claim if you hire a public adjuster, which is why we recommend against clients hiring them. 

To learn more about these types of adjusters and which one you should consider hiring for a claim, read this article: Should I Hire a Public Adjuster for My Claim?

What are auto appraisers? 

Auto appraisers will be hired to determine the cost of the damages made to a vehicle, as well as the value of the vehicle itself. The appraiser is typically not an employee of your insurance company, so they are able to give an unbiased opinion of the damages. Appraisers will reach out to you to schedule your appointment, which can be done at your home, work, or an auto body shop you choose. 

Appraisers assess the damages made to a vehicle after an accident by determining what parts of the vehicle were damaged, what the necessary repairs will be, and any additional operations required to make the car drivable once more. 

Auto appraisers will typical determine this by looking at:

  • A vehicle’s year, make, model & edition 
  • The current mileage 
  • Overall condition of the vehicle 

Appraiser’s may also refer to repairs or auto body shops to help determine the estimated costs of repairs after an accident. 

What is the difference between adjusters and appraisers? 

While adjusters are there to determine if the insurer should pay for the damages to your vehicle and for how much, appraisers are instead assigned to determine the value of your vehicle and the estimated cost of repairs. An appraiser's estimates would then help adjusters determine how much an insurer would pay a policyholder for their claim. 

Appraisers will usually be assigned to your case after an insurance adjuster has reached out to you. It will typically take you around 24-48 hours to hear from an insurance adjuster after filing a claim. Appraisals can be scheduled anytime after an accident, but will usually take place soon after if the vehicle was totaled. 

Staying prepared for auto claims

Now that you have a better understanding of what differentiates claims adjusters and appraisers, you know what to expect the next time you have to file a claim on your auto policy. 

As the entire auto insurance claims process is made up of multiple moving parts and steps, it can end up taking anywhere from a few days to months to fully resolve. If you’re currently in the middle of the process or are wondering about the timeline of a claim, check out our article on how long an auto insurance claim usually takes.