Leslie writes ...

"Even after spending many years in the insurance industry, I was not prepared to watch my own house burn. But there I stood, watching firemen aim a hose and shoot water into the flames that were consuming the south side of my home. It was eerie.

They had the fire under control in a matter of about ten minutes. The air was filled with black smoke and my eyes were stinging. I was probably in shock; the entire situation was surreal.

And then HE approached.

"Are you the owner of this house?"

I nodded in the affirmative.

He handed me a card. "I'm here to help you. Just sign here and I'll go to work...."

He was a Public Adjuster, someone who was listening in on the frequency that the Fire Department uses, and he'd arrived on the heels of the fire truck. And there he stood, with a form for me to sign that essentially gave him the right to deal with our insurance company and keep a percentage of our claims payment for his "work."

"I don't need a Public Adjuster. I have USAA and they are a good company." I told him.

"USAA? They'll screw you. That's all insurance companies DO, lady. Sign here and I'll get you more money than you can imagine! I know how to DEAL with those rotten adjusters!"

My voice was low and controlled. "Do you know who I AM?"

"Yeah. You're a policyholder who NEEDS me," he said.

I pointed to a short stack of papers that had been pulled out of the smoldering garage. "I'm Leslie Kim. I'm the Editor of The John Cooke Fraud Reports. That newspaper. And I eat guys like YOU for lunch..."

He didn't walk away. He ran. As did the others just like him who kept showing up in a steady stream. It made me laugh - so perhaps I really did NEED them. Just not in the way they thought I should.

Just like some attorneys are called ambulance chasers, some public adjusters monitor the movements of fire trucks. Seeing a home going up in flames causes molten dollar signs to flash in their brains. They grab the homeowner while they are weak. "Sign here," they urge.


If you are dealing with a reputable insurance company, you generally do not need a Public Adjuster. On the rare chance that you want to pay a percentage to get one to represent you in filing your claim, then ask your attorney to recommend one. Do NOT just hook up with a stranger who chases fire trucks.

Leslie Kim, Editor
The John Cooke Fraud Reports