Industry Warning: Florida Contractors
A Florida Public Adjusters License Is Needed To Assist With Claims!
Sometimes contractors attempt to help victims of disasters by offering assistance with their insurance claim. If they do so they may illegally be engaging in the practice of public adjusting without being properly licensed by the Department of Financial Services.
The definition of a public adjuster, as explained in Section 626.854, Florida Statutes, is any person, except an attorney, who, for money or any other thing of value (which would include securing a contract for repairs):
- Prepares, completes or files an insurance claim form for an insured
- Aids in any manner on behalf of an insured in negotiating for or effecting the settlement of a claim
- Advertises or solicits for employment as an adjuster of such claims
However, the contractor may discuss or explain a bid for construction or repair of the covered property with the residential property owner who has suffered loss or damage covered by a property insurance policy, or the insurer of such property, if the contractor is doing so for the usual and customary fees applicable to the work to be performed as stated in the contract between the contractor and the insured.
If you are acting as a public adjuster in any manner by negotiating or effecting the settlement of an insurance claim on behalf of an insured and you are performing any of these services for money, commission, or anything of value without being licensed as a public adjuster (Section 626.854, Florida Statutes), you could be subject to arrest and may be charged with a third-degree felony as provided by Section 626.8738, Florida Statutes.
If you should become licensed as a Public Adjuster, you cannot enter into a contract to do both the public adjusting and construction work on the same property per Florida Statute 626.8795, Public adjusters; prohibition of conflict of interest:
“A public adjuster may not participate, directly or indirectly, in the reconstruction, repair, or restoration of damaged property that is the subject of a claim adjusted by the licensee; may not engage in any other activities that may be reasonably construed as a conflict of interest, including soliciting or accepting any remuneration from, of any kind or nature, directly or indirectly; and may not have a financial interest in any salvage, repair, or any other business entity that obtains business in connection with any claim that the public adjuster has a contract or an agreement to adjust.”
If you should have any questions about what activities constitute acting as a public adjuster, please contact the Department of Financial Services’ Bureau of Investigation at 850-413-3136 or through its website, www.MyFloridaCFO.com/Division/Agents.
See DBPR Fall 2007 Newsletter.
When it comes down to who you want helping you with an insurance claim the choice should be simple once you understand what a public adjuster does. A public adjuster is always your best choice and hiring the right public adjuster is also an essential part of the insurance claims process. Make sure you do your research on the public adjusting firm and make sure you interview and research the individual public insurance adjuster that will be adjusting your insurance claim.
Remember there are Public Adjusters that just want to settle a claim quickly for you and we all would like to see you made whole as soon as possible. However, some adjusters will attempt you to settle for less than you deserve just to get themselves paid. An Experienced Public Adjuster will always ask themselves at every point during the claim am I currently doing what is best for the insureds? We live by those questions as adjusters for Experienced Public Adjusters because we always want the best for our clients and we want every penny owed by the insurance company paid.