Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Adjuster Definition:

A representative or agent of the insurer who attempts to quantify or otherwise determine the extent of the insurer's liability for loss when a claim is submitted.

Related Terms: Insurance

Also often referred to as an insurance adjuster, claims adjuster or loss adjuster.

The adjuster also often attempts to come to an agreement with the insured as to a settlement, on behalf of the insurer.

Often statute law defines what an adjuster is for the purpose of local insurance law. For example, this, in New Brunswick circa 2013:

"Adjuster means a person who, for compensation, not being a barrister or solicitor acting in the usual course of his profession or a trustee or an agent of the property insured, directly or indirectly solicits the right to negotiate the settlement of a loss under a contract of insurance on behalf of the insured or the insurer, or holds himself out as an adjuster of losses under such contracts."

The Canadian Independent Adjusters' Association proposes this definition of an "independent adjuster":

"An independent adjuster is a qualified, independent business person who investigates, quantifies, negotiates and resolves the amount of loss in an insurance claim. The adjuster completes these tasks on behalf of insurance companies and government insurers who require the expertise of a licensed, experienced adjuster for personal contact with their insured."

But note these words of caution:

"The term "independent" is somewhat misleading, when defining the legal relationship between an adjuster and insurer. The term seems to denote that the adjuster stands in a position somewhere between the insured and the insurer, and that his function is somewhat of a mediator or conciliator. However, this is not the case, as the "independent" label merely means that he is not an employee of the insurer such as a staff adjuster. The "independent" adjuster therefore is one who is in the business of adjusting losses and investigating claims, and who is available to be retained on a fee for service basis by a number of insurers. To suggest that such an adjuster is "independent" from the control of the insurer is false, and therefore, it is submitted, by the use of the label itself, it is conceivable that the public may be misled.....

"Members of the adjusting profession will in all likelihood advise that their only authority is to review and investigate the circumstances of the loss, and to report the results of their findings to the insurer. They are also likely to stipulate that they have no authority whatsoever from the insurer to commit the insurer in any way. However, as with any other relationship involving the use of an agent to conduct a principal's business, the question is more properly looked at from the point of view of the third party, in this case the insured."1

In French, experts en sinistre.

REFERENCES:

  • Adjusters Regulation, NB Reg 85-151, §2
  • NOTE 1: Hill, Dave, Role of the Independent Adjuster in the Settlement of Claims, 9 Man. L.J. 113 (1978-1979)

Categories & Topics:


Always looking up definitions? Save time with our search provider (modern browsers only)

If you find an error or omission in Duhaime's Law Dictionary, or if you have suggestion for a legal term, we'd love to hear from you!