If you have stumbled upon our guide, the chances are that you are considering hiring the services of a private investigator in Florida. Whatever your circumstances might be, PI, if chosen correctly, is well worth your hard-earned money. Despite the effectiveness of private investigators, the first question that comes to mind when pursuing their services is how much it will cost. As with most freelancing or highly complex industries, there isn’t a fixed budget that you can predict. A few factors can determine the fees, and that is an excellent place to start.
Let’s dissect the nature of the private investigation and its services to have an estimate of the cost you might be paying, and most importantly, why. You will have a better understanding of what to expect and ensure that you are not being scammed, particularly when you are in your most vulnerable state of mind.
The Cost is Tailored to Your Unique Needs
The most basic services, most often pursued by clients, revolve around the simplest private investigation practices, including surveillance, background checks, pre-matrimonial investigation, bug sweeps, or insurance investigations. These do not require sophisticated methods and tend to take the least amount of work, so you may expect to pay less as opposed to more complicated endeavors. As the level of discretion increases, requiring creative solutions and approaches, the workload along with the total cost rises as well. Financial fraud, cheating spouses, or missing person investigations fall into that category.
The wide range of services provided by private investigators, often customized to your individual needs, is an excellent cost determinant resulting in broadly varying prices.
Private Investigators and Hourly Fees
More often than not, your PI will charge an hourly rate for the services they provide since the amount of work of most assignments is almost always impossible to predict. Surveillance jobs may run for hours, days, or even longer, so it is only natural to expect being paid for the number of hours devoted to the case. With that being said, you and your PI can safely agree to work around a particular budget that you are willing to spend. That way, any additional fees required to finish the job will be consulted with you prior to proceeding.
Nationwide, the prices range from $40 an hour to even $400 and more, depending on the experience, reputation, and the sophisticated nature of specialized services, such as computer forensics. The national average hourly rate falls somewhere around $105, with most people paying anything between $99 to $150, which is precisely the average of what private investigators charge in Florida.
Private Investigators and Flat Rates
Flat rates provide a calculated estimate of the total cost, which is often the most desirable option for clients. Some private investigators may offer a fixed fee for various services, especially if they are characterized by relative simplicity and specification. Some services that may be appropriate for a flat rate include a missing person case, background check, document retrieval, and other less-complex assignments.
If your PI agrees to a flat rate, which can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, the additional expenses and tax should be included in the overall cost.
What is a Retainer?
You may encounter a private investigator who requires a retainer, which is an initial payment similar to a deposit. The retainer is an upfront fee that is put toward the expenses needed to fulfill the job. The amount you will pay is highly correlated with the amount of work necessary to complete the assignment and the type of services that will be provided.
The retainer is not a flat rate – any additional charges will be applied if the initial payment is exhausted before the work is finished. If your PI completes the job without using up the retainer, you will most likely receive a refund.
Why Do the Prices Vary?
If you visit any medical specialist, you will see that their prices vary greatly from one practice to the next. The same applies to attorneys, who may charge more or less depending on many factors, including expertise, the equipment they utilize, reputation, years of experience, or the location. Getting liposuction at a renowned clinic in the Upper East Side by a board-certified plastic surgeon will certainly cost you more than going to your local practitioner in a small town who happens to perform liposuctions. Similarly, private investigators with years of experience, sophisticated methodology and equipment, and an unblemished reputation will charge more for their services than their less seasoned colleagues.
Matters of delicate nature often require utmost care, computerized technology, and the highest privacy and confidentiality standards. Trusting the competence of a professional private investigator is worth every penny, where the services are tailored to your needs, and the task is performed adequately with satisfactory results. For those reasons, exceptionally low prices should trigger a red flag.
Choosing Your Private Investigator
When researching your options, whenever possible, try to avoid choosing your PI solely based on price. While paying more for a professional private investigator may seem extreme considering the much lower prices offered by others, you may be saving more money in the long run. Keep in mind that most PI agencies or freelancers charge an hourly rate, and you really have no idea how long it will take to finish the assignment. Sadly, cheaper alternatives often indicate low expertise, and the job may take forever to finish if completed at all. Do your own investigation and rely on the opinions of former customers to get an idea of their work ethic and accomplishments. Always aim for a licensed professional with the best experience possible to handle your matters.