8 Home Insurance Claim Adjuster Secret Tactics

Home insurance claim adjuster secret tactics unveiled by insurance attorney

For the video version of this article see below. If you prefer to read, keep scrolling down for the blog post. 

Home Insurance Claim Adjuster Secret Tactics: Explainer Video

Home Insurance Claim Adjuster Secret Tactics: Blog Post

Familiarizing yourself with insurance company claim adjusters’ secret tactics is a way of arming your defenses against the insurance company’s attempts to pay you out a lower settlement than you deserve.

In the words of Ancient Chinese general Sun Tzu “Know thy enemy..”

Although you shouldn’t exactly think of your insurance company as your enemy, it’s important to remember that they are not your friend either, which brings us to our first tactic;

Your insurance company is not your enemy

Pretending To Be Your Friend

When you first contact the insurance company, there is usually a honeymoon period where the adjuster is very friendly and accommodating. If you don’t realize this is one of the home insurance claim adjusters secret tactics, you may be led into mistakenly believing that the insurance company is on your side.

During this time, the adjuster knows that public adjusters are contacting you and that you may be considering hiring an attorney. The insurance company usually does better negotiating a home insurance claim where the homeowner does not have professional representation.

This special time does not always last and sometimes the honeymoon is very short lived indeed. It is after this period that I often hear from people wanting help with their claim.


Once the honeymoon period ends, bullying becomes one of home insurance claim adjusters secret tactics.

The adjuster may be rude, or overly harsh with you, knowing that you are sensitive because of your devastating loss and are liable to get angry, frustrated, or commit some type of error that will prejudice your claim.

insurance adjuster bullying

If the adjuster successfully provokes you into acting unprofessionally with them, they know they will have a “get out of jail free card” in the case of litigation because they can then paint you as aggressive and adversarial, i.e. not cooperative.

An insurance claim is a long adversarial negotiation under the best of circumstances and if you get a pit-bull style adjuster they will wear you down no matter how strong you think you are. If your insurance company adjuster shows any signs of aggressive behavior you should seriously consider professional representation such as hiring a property damage lawyer with insurance claim experience.

Request for Recorded Statement or Financial Documents

Requesting financial documents or requesting your recorded statement is one of home insurance claim adjusters secret tactics, and indicates they are making an investigation to attempt to deny your claim.

The extent to which you must comply with these requests is outlined in your insurance policy, so it is worth taking a look at your policy or enlisting the help of an insurance lawyer to take a look for you. You don’t have to provide the insurance company with anything more than you are compelled to by law. 

insurance claim analyzed to prepare against home insurance claim adjuster secret tactics

The insurance company may try to use financial documents to show that you are in financial distress and therefore accuse you of causing your own loss. During the recorded statement the insurance company may ask you questions about things you are unsure of, and then if you answer incorrectly, they will assert later that they have proof of you making misrepresentation.

Having an insurance lawyer is extremely helpful at this phase because they can send information to the insurance company which counters their theories before they even make them. This action shows the adjustor that you know what they are up to, that you are not messing around, and can often encourage them to settle before litigation becomes necessary.

If you choose to go it alone during a recorded statement or examination under oath, be prepared to disclose all your expenses and income, and remember it is always better to disclose more than less. If you cannot recall all the information, it is fine to disclose what you recall and tell them you will supplement your answers when you have more time to review.

Cases have been won and lost by the insured failing to disclose one of many credit cards they have, and the insurer later claiming it was an attempt to misrepresent the insured’s financial condition.

Repairing Instead Of Replacing

Insurance adjusters love to repair whenever possible, because it is cheaper than replacing a damaged item. It is important to recognize this as one of home insurance claim adjuster secret tactics before it comes back to bite you.

Insurance policies typically state that the insurance company is responsible for replacing or repairing the item in a form that is of like kind and quality. Not knowing this, or simply being worn down by your battle with the insurance company, you may feel pressured to accept a repair that is of lesser quality. 

insurance company adjuster tries to repair instead of replace

For example, if a part of your roof burned in a fire, simply replacing the damaged area rather than the entire roof may make the roof more susceptible to future leaks than it originally was- but the insurance company won’t tell you that.

Similarly, the insurance company may try to use tens of thousands of dollars of your coverage to send your smoke-damaged clothes out for cleaning, while at the same time asking you to sign the cleaning company contract acknowledging that there is no guarantee that the cleaning will return the clothes to their prior condition. If the repairs are not successful, you have lost significant amount of coverage, while neither the insurance company nor the cleaning company taking any responsibility for the failed attempt.

First, I recommend you ask the insurance company to indemnify the attempt so if it fails you retain the same amount of coverage. Second, ask the cleaner to guarantee their cleaning so they agree to not charge for anything that fails. If neither will agree, then tell them no you do not want to attempt cleaning at your own risk. Sometimes the insurance company will agree to just clean a small subset as a test to see if the smoke damage is cleanable. This is a much better strategy.

Using Additional Living Expense as Pressure

If a fire or damage to your property forces you out of your home, most policies state that the insurance company must pay for your additional living expenses.

Some adjusters may suggest a hotel because it is easier for them, but if you lived in a home previously, you have the right to rent a home providing similar living conditions to your home while your house is being repaired. 

An insurance company adjuster tries to force family out of their temporary home

If you have disagreements with the insurance company that are preventing you from starting repair work on your home, your insurance company may try to force you out of your temporary living situation as a heavy-handed way to compel you to accept their claim estimate.

Your policy states that they only cover living expenses for a reasonable amount of time required for construction. At this stage a lawyer can be critical in speeding up the negotiation process with your insurance company so that you can start work on your home, or in helping make the insurance company understand that they must cover your additional living expenses until they agree on a fair settlement so you can start work. 

Ignoring You

Those familiar with home insurance claim adjuster secret tactics know all too well about how common it is for insurance companies to completely ignore their customer.

You call and they are not in, you leave a message and send an email but they don’t respond. In some cases ignoring you works in the adjuster’s favor because the claimant becomes so desperate to get their money that they accept a less than sufficient claim payment. 

Illinois regulations state that insurance companies must respond to pertinent communications within a reasonable period, which is deemed to be 15 days.

In one case, after being ignored by the insurance company for over a year, I filed suit on behalf of my client. Almost immediately the insurance company responded agreeing to pay the claim in full. They were just waiting to see if they could make us to go away by ignoring us, but in the end they were ready to accept our claim without any argument.

Underestimating and Over Depreciating

An insidious strategy that should be included on any complete list of home insurance claim adjuster secret tactics is insurance companies’ persistent underestimation of the value and the cost of repair of lost or damaged items.

After property damage, insurance companies will create their own estimate of the costs of repairs. It is important to note that there is absolutely no policy provision telling them to make this estimate. The policy states it is the policyholder’s responsibility to provide a proof of loss.

So if insurance companies have no imperative to create an estimate, why do they do it? You guessed it- it is a way to save them money by lowballing the costs and forcing you to fight them for every penny, which over time will wear away at your resolve and eventually lure you into accepting a lower claim than you deserve.

To make their estimate, insurance companies often use a software called Xactimate which is used only to produce estimates, but with no actual contractor agreeing to perform the work based on it. Xactimate often allows the insurance company using it to not account for building material waste. An Xactimate estimate may assert the cost of 2.7 feet of drywall despite the fact drywall can only be purchased in 4×8 sheets and then cut to fit. In other words, Xactimate is too exact for how building actually works. On top of that, Xactimate prices often don’t reflect updated costs of building materials. Some contractors assert that their estimates are often 2 to 3 times higher than those put forward by Xactimate. 

insurance estimate software called xactimate

Insurance adjusters also assert high percentages of depreciation on items, regardless of how much the item has actually depreciated. For example, adjusters may assert that an item that is eight years old that has a useful life of ten years has lost 80% of its value, despite the fact that that item may have been in pristine condition at the time of the fire.

There are often instances where an item is older than its stated useful life and the insurance company asserts the actual cash value zero. This ignores an item’s residual value at the end of an assumed useful life. The condition of an item before an accident or fire can be difficult to prove, and arguing with insurance companies over small details like this can be frustrating, but insurance lawyers can help stick up for policyholders in these situations.


It is not uncommon for insurance adjusters to misrepresent what your policy covers. Especially on an unrecorded phone call or an in-person meeting, insurance adjusters know they won’t be held accountable for misrepresenting policy details to their clients.

As an insurance lawyer, I have seen many clients be surprised when they find out something is covered, after the insurance company adjuster told them that it wasn’t covered. If the misrepresentation was not in writing, the adjuster will almost certainly deny saying it.

The reason this tactic works is because the insured stops asserting a claim for that item, there is no written record a claim for that item was ever made, and there is therefore no written record it was ever officially denied.

I encourage my clients to keep communications with the insurance company written whenever possible, or after a verbal communication to recap the conversation via email to either stop their adjusters from denying saying it, or to have proof of the adjuster’s misrepresentations which can then be used against them in the case of litigation. 


Familiarizing yourself with home insurance claim adjusters secret tactics is a step in the right direction, but the best way to ensure you get a fair settlement is to hire an insurance lawyer who will work for you on a contingency basis, meaning you don’t pay, unless you get paid. Fill out my consultation form below for an absolutely free case evaluation, so I can determine how I can help you today. 

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