Unlicensed Activity is Fraudulent AND Dangerous
In this issue, FAPIA President Tim Cornett shares information on the adverse effects of unlicensed activity.
The public adjusting industry has long been the target of a broad stroke negative approach to defining who we are and what we do. One bad apple makes the news and suddenly all public adjusters are described as “crooks and thieves” and dangerous to the insurance market in Florida. The next legislative session begins in a few short months and we are expecting an onslaught of anti-consumer and anti-public adjuster laws to be filed. They will affect everything from our fees to the right of rescission period, and more, which, if passed, will make the business of public adjusting less cost effective to operate and imperil policyholders who need our help.
Insurers Complain About Public Adjusters Being “Cost Drivers” While Ignoring the True Picture
It is fairly easy to point the finger at public adjusters as being “cost drivers” when it is clear that we get policyholders more money on their claims than what insurers pay unrepresented claimants. The issue is that there are fewer than 2,000 licensed and appointed resident public adjusters in Florida, and there are 8,000+ roofing contractors and many more thousands of general contractors, plumbers, restoration companies and others who regularly engage in solicitation of insurance claims in direct violation of Florida statute 626.854 (19) which states:
(19) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, no person, except an attorney at law or a public adjuster, may for money, commission, or any other thing of value, directly or indirectly:
(a) Prepare, complete, or file an insurance claim for an insured or a third-party claimant;
(b) Act on behalf of or aid an insured or a third-party claimant in negotiating for or effecting the settlement of a claim for loss or damage covered by an insurance contract;
(c) Advertise for employment as a public adjuster; or
(d) Solicit, investigate, or adjust a claim on behalf of a public adjuster, an insured, or a third-party claimant.
Additionally, FS 626.8738 states that engaging in the above activity is a “felony of the third degree.”
There has been a consistent failure on the part of regulators to reign in this illegal activity, and FAPIA is bringing awareness to a variety of state officials, regulators, lawmakers and the industry in general. The truth is that while there are a handful of licensed public adjusters who are not playing by the rules, the vast majority of us are being blamed with that broad brush for the actions of unlicensed individuals who are illegally acting as public adjusters.
Putting Things into Perspective
Are there legitimate complaints against our industry? Regrettably, there are a small number of licensees who engage in questionable activity that is used against us and hurts us all. Particularly when they make news headlines that allow the enemies of consumer advocates to frame our story in a negative light. Consider the Strems Law Group and Contender Claims lawsuit and how that can and will be used against our industry. I urge all public adjusters to continue to always do the right thing and put the policyholders first. Let us know when you see something wrong. Let us know when you have a great story to tell. Ask your policyholders to share their stories at www.voicesofpolicyholders.com so we can make important stakeholders aware of the important role we play in the insurance claim process. We need those stories to come directly from the policyholders and we need your help collecting them.
Unlicensed Activity is Fraud and it Has to Stop
FAPIA is launching an initiative to bring light to fraudulent unlicensed activity that creates an atmosphere allowing our industry to be mistaken for the real bad actors. Unlicensed activity is a danger to policyholders and to the consumer advocacy industry. It is creating disruption, raising rates and giving an excuse to some insurers to ask for more stringent regulations on our industry, diminished policy coverages and higher rates as well as anti-consumer legislation.
Join us in the fight against unlicensed activity, and if you haven’t already done so, support the public adjusting industry through FAPIA today. We encourage you to report instances of unlicensed activity at https://www.fapia.net/report-uppa.html as we are collecting examples to share with decision makers in Tallahassee. You can help put a stop to this problem.
HL Law Group is a boutique law firm that focuses its practice on property damage insurance claims. Call (855) 713-1212 or email us at email@example.com if you have a question or a potential claim.