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Using an Insurance Public Adjustor? Know Your Rights

A homeowner with property damage can work directly with their insurance agency, but some opt for a public adjustor who may – or may not – get them more money.

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. – In a media release this week, Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis provided information regarding Floridians’ rights regarding Hurricane Ian insurance claims and working with public adjustors.

A public adjuster is anyone other than a licensed attorney who accepts compensation for directly or indirectly helping a homeowner investigate, prepare or file an insurance claim. Ultimately, public adjusters’ fees come out of the claims money that an insurance company pays one of its homeowners.

In theory, a public adjuster can get a homeowner more money than they would have received on their own – and more money even after the public adjuster’s fee. But it’s not always that simple. Consumers should consider whether the cost is worth the benefit.

“If you choose to hire a public adjuster to assist with your insurance claim following Hurricane Ian, you must know your rights under Florida law,” says Patronis. “While many public adjusters are reputable, following every storm, we’ve seen bad actors try to get between policyholders and their insurance claims. Consumers should keep their guard up and know their rights.”

Patronis says homeowners should never feel pressured and “Florida law prohibits them from providing gift cards or offering loans in exchange for services. … If you need assistance during the claims process, call my office at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO to talk to an insurance specialist free-of-charge.”

Rights dealing with a public adjuster

  • If you change your mind about working with a public adjuster, Florida law gives you up to 10 days from the date you entered the contract to cancel.
  • To cancel, send written notice of cancellation via certified mail or other proof of mailing to the address specified in your contract.

A public adjuster may not:

  • Use any maneuver, shift or device that causes you to pay them any total amount greater than 10% of the value of your claim, excluding attorney’s fees and costs.
  • Prevent you from hiring a contractor of your choosing to repair your property.
  • Acquire an interest in property removed from your home without your written permission.
  • Charge you for assisting with a claim for Additional Living Expenses, unless you agree to such charges in a separate contract.
  • Prevent your insurance company from inspecting insured property in a timely manner.
  • Invite an insured to submit a claim in the absence of damages covered under an insurance policy.
  • Offer to loan you money, or pay you in gift cards or other consideration if you agree to sign his or her contract.
  • Tell you there is “no risk” to hiring a public adjuster.
  • Increase his or her rate of compensation simply because a claim is subject to litigation.
  • Offer money, kickbacks or other valuable consideration in exchange for referrals of business.
  • Charge you for reopening or resubmitting a claim that your insurer has previously paid, in-part or in-full.

A public adjuster must:

  • Provide an insured consumer with a written cost estimate of sustained losses within 60 days from the date they enter into a contract with an insured consumer. The written cost estimate must contain an itemized, per unit, estimate for repairs.
  • Promptly provide a copy of their contract and a notice of the claim to that homeowner’s insurance company.

Public Adjusters who violate any of these provisions, or other portions of Section 626.854, Florida Statutes, are subject to fines of up to $20,000 for each violation.

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