Typically insurance companies have what are known as local staff adjusters. These are the people that work everyday losses such as a theft, fire or a washing machine hose leak etc. They are staffed only to handle normal claim loads.
If a weather event occurs they expect to be over several hundred claims from the same weather event the insurance companies will declare it a catastrophe. This is an internal declaration that has no connection to any government organization such as FEMA. The insurance companies will call upon a special team of adjusters to service these claims, these adjusters are known as catastrophe adjusters. Catastrophe adjusters travel across the United States taking the claims from the local office so normal operations can continue. Since there are peak times in the year (spring and fall) it does not make sense for any large company hold adjusters on full time employment. They utilize what is known as independent adjusters.
They also have their own team of staff catastrophe adjusters but the team is not large enough to handle every event.
Independent adjusters work for large firms that the large insurance carriers have contracts with. You should not be concerned if the adjuster is independent or staff, as they have the same authority to assess damage, but you should be concerned if you do not get a seasoned experienced adjuster.
Everyone must start somewhere; an adjuster can be just as inexperienced on the staff side as they can on the independent side. Being staff or independent adjuster is in no way a litmus test on if they are going to do a good job.
Adjusters get better with years of experience, as with any profession. Simply put, an adjuster that has worked catastrophes before will know more about what to look for and typically process your claim faster than a newer adjuster.
You want an adjuster who listens and looks at all the damage. The speed in which they inspect is also not an indicator of their skill level. It might take and unseasoned adjuster an hour to inspect a loss, where an experienced claim adjuster can look it the same loss in 20 minutes. Does it mean they did a better job because they were there longer, not necessarily.
The good news is if you feel that not all your damage was included in the claim estimate there is recourse. You first want to find the person you are going to have complete the permanent repairs, then you can set up a second inspection with your adjuster and your contractor to walk through and look at the damages together and agree on an appropriate settlement.
The entire process takes time, so after a hurricane or storm worry less about what the classification of your adjuster is and more about making temporary repairs and finding a reliable contractor you want to use to do the repairs.
This is where Temporary Repair LLC can help. We have teams like catastrophe adjusters that travel across the US to provide immediate emergency response by covering your leaking roof with a tarp.