Authorities Urge Fire Victims to Work With Insurance Companies to Avoid Scam Artists

VALLEY VO - 000035231
NBC Bay Area

Authorities are warning victims of the Butte and Valley fires to work directly with their insurance companies to avoid being swindled by insurance scam artists.

When large insurance claims need to be made, some people feel more comfortable hiring a public adjuster to act as a middle man between the insurance company and the insured, according to authorities. But doing so can be costly if the wrong public adjuster is hired.

While trustworthy adjusters negotiate with insurance companies in order to get the best outcome for the insured, some less reputable adjusters may just be looking to make a quick buck off the victims, California Department of Insurance officials said.

[Editor's note: Previous versions of this story incorrectly suggested that the state had warned that public adjusters may be involved in scamming fire victims -- that is not accurate. Public adjusters are licensed by the Department of Insurance. They assess damage and negotiate the settlement of insurance claims, with insurance companies, on the homeowners behalf. For that service they generally charge the homeowner a percentage of the final claim. The Department of Insurance recommends that homeowners always check with them to verify that the adjuster has been licensed by the state.]

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