FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – March 26, 2015 – Question: There was a flood a few floors above my condo, so my unit and its contents were heavily damaged. My insurance company sent out a representative, who wants to pay me much less than what I think the damages are worth. Is there anything I can do? – Andrea

Answer: Yes, you can hire your own insurance adjuster. A public adjuster is a licensed insurance professional who can help you get the proper amount of money from the insurance company. Interview several to make sure you're working with the right one.

In many cases, the insurer's representative arrives at a fair amount of money. But an adjuster can help you receive all of the benefits to which you are entitled. He or she will help you document the damage and prepare your claim paperwork. You typically will pay a commission of 10 percent to 20 percent on the amount that is recovered.

While your insurance company doesn't have to pay you the amount that the public adjuster decides on, the insurer often will negotiate to the higher number rather than face the possibility of a lawsuit. If you do have to take legal action, the adjuster's work and documentation will help your attorney recover more money for you.

About the writer: Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He is the chairperson of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is an adjunct professor for the Nova Southeastern University Paralegal Studies program.

The information and materials in this column are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is formed. Nothing in this column is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney, especially an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

Copyright © 2015 Sun Sentinel, Gary M. Singer. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.