Public Adjusters are Part of the Solution to Hurricane Ian Recovery
by Rick Tutwiler on 10/13/2022
A recent open letter from the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA) stated: "Public insurance adjusters are experts in the claims adjustment process and are, along with attorneys, the only “licensed” profession that can help consumers by preparing, filing, and adjusting insurance claims. It is important to note that policyholders have the right to hire their own adjuster to assist them with the preparation of their claim.” In Florida, there are currently over 2,700 licensed and bonded Public Adjusters listed on the Department of Financial Services license search website. Not only are public adjusters already highly regulated by the state, but the national (NAPIA) and state (FAPIA) industry associations impose a high ethical standard on members. During Hurricane Michael and other storms, public adjusters were there to help policyholders when their insurance companies did not have the resources to respond in a timely manner.
Why then, has CFO Jimmy Patronis who oversees the agency that licenses this group chosen to openly disparage and interfere with the legally licensed businesses attempting to assist policyholders impacted by Hurricane Ian, painting a broad brush on the group as “locusts and pariah’s” on national news? It is one thing to remind the public to beware of opportunists and check the credentials of vendors who approach them to do recovery work. It’s a totally different story to scare the public away from a trained group of claim adjusters who can be an important part of the solution to helping thousands of homeowners get their claims filed.
Unfortunately, this has emboldened insurance company representatives who are openly telling policyholders not to hire public adjusters. Our firm and others have had contracts cancelled because the insurance company scared them. Our firm has even been refused housing because we were public adjusters. Would a homeowner rather have an experienced public adjuster advocating for them or an adjuster with 1 ½ days of training that insurance companies are having problems deploying?
Instead, Mr. Patronis and his agency should be claim smart by educating policyholders about the claims process and support public adjuster advocates who can help policyholders cut through industry red tape insurance coverage issues looming for Hurricane Ian claims. For example, consumers need direction on flood and wind damage claims, information to understand their Policies and knowledge of how past FL Supreme Court Rulings like Sebo may play a vital impact on whether clams will get paid. Both the Sebo case and articles on concurrent causation v anti concurrent causation can be found on the internet. Most are on point and well written and you be wised to read them so to get educated on these issues. How insurance companies respond and apply new reforms to damages sustained over the flood line will soon be known.
I can tell you that many of the policyholders my office has spoken to have unreasonable expectations they will be made whole for their damages with little understanding of the financial impact bringing their house up to code will have.
Mr. Patronis should take a cue from his predecessor, CFO Tom Gallagher, who in 1993 wrote to a client who hired our firm: “After careful review, we would suggest that the Association retain a public adjuster and then use methods available under the appraisal clause of your policy.” We will let the reader decide why Mr. Patronis has decided to take the other side. Public adjusters are part of the solution to Hurricane Ian recovery, not the problem and more importantly Public Adjusters can be a surefire way to avoid further litigation if that’s all factor to helping solve the insurance crisis facing our State.
Let us know what you think.