I was going to use the word "hate," but that is too strong for everybody. The truth is that many insurance company adjusters hate some public adjusters. Public adjusters are thought of as the enemy by most insurance company claims departments. I do not think those claims departments visualize me as a white knight, either.

This post came about as a result of Mary Kestenbaum Fortson and me being invited to Baltimore for a meeting to organize an education conference for property insurance claims. Most of the organizers in attendance were public adjusters. They asked me why other insurance industry groups "shunned" their overtures to create a fall property insurance claims conference.

Mary and I were smiling because it seemed they simply did not get it—insurance company personnel are trained that public adjusters interfere with the claims process and have to be treated almost as if they are the enemy during an adjustment. The enemy stigma, once placed into the adjuster’s head, does not seem to go away.

Need proof? Go to the Property Loss Research Bureau website (PLRB). The PLRB is the one property insurance conference professional claims adjusters for the insurance industry do not miss. It involves the "who’s who" of the property insurance world. Property insurance vendors like HAAG, Rimkus and SEA show up to court possible business with claims managers. Property insurance company attorneys are there as well. They take their clients to dinner and pontificate about claims issues and how well they have beaten down customer claims through litigation.

I only know these things through hearsay. I actually have close friends who go, share their materials with me, and talk about the events at the PLRB. The PLRB written materials are excellent and the speakers are renowned for their experience. I wish I could attend because many of the topics are my passion. However, I am not invited.

On the PLRB web site, guidelines for the attendance and other rules are posted. Believe it or not–a section exists for rules regarding public adjusters. It states:

PUBLIC ADJUSTERS, AGENTS AND BROKERS
The Claims Conference is open only to those employed by the insurance industry and those who, as their primary business, provide goods and services directly to insurers. Others, such as public adjusters, brokers, and agents, are not invited and may not register nor attend. Any such uninvited person found attending the Conference will be asked to leave and will not receive a refund.

I guess the old saying that if you are not for us, you must be against us is alive and well in the insurance company claims industry. I wonder what kind of information and secrets insurance company claims departments and their attorneys, and vendors want to keep from people who help the insurance company customers? I have always felt it hypocritical that insurance company claims executives and their attorneys say they must be honest with their policyholders, but keep claims procedures secret. How can you be honest when you are withholding the truth?

In the agenda, there is even a seminar: "How to Deal with Public Adjusters." That seminar’s details indicate:

** Locate local governing authority websites regulating the licensing and conduct of Public Adjusters
** Employ policy provisions to protect the rights of the insurer relative to coverage and policy conditions
** Resolve claims with PAs by skillful negotiation of the scoping and estimating process
** Document the claim file for effective resolution or success in appraisal

It is sad that there was not one insurance claim seminar at the PLRB devoted to the policyholder’s main concern–how to get paid fully and fast. Even skeptical readers probably get the point of what the PLRB is about—but I still wish I could go.

The organizers of the new public adjuster claims conference will not have as a spectacular event as the PLRB. Indeed, they may be in serious trouble if they are asking for my opinion about how to organize it. Yet, I can assure there will not be claims practice secrets and everyone will be treated as equals.

  • It is more than just insurance adjusters who dislike PA’s. On the other hand, if insurance companies would pay policyholders what they are entitled to; if Rimkus and HAAG would not be favorable to an insurer; if The Department of Insurance would police insurance companies how they should, I would not have so much work. So, THANK YOU insurance adjusters, engineers, claims managers, PLRB, for keeping public adjusters busy and making our industry grow!

    Kind Regards,

    Dimitry Manasov

  • Jose

    Insurance adjusters don’t like public adjusters? HAHHAHAHA LOL, Perhaps they should try it first; it’s much more interesting and profitable.

    I hate Donald Trump. Why? Because he is an ugly rich man with a beautiful model. Not because he is smart, educated and makes sense.

    :)

  • J R

    I have been on the company side of adjusting my entire career.

    There are PROFESSIONAL PA’s that I have enjoyed dealing with. They are knowledgeable, prepare estimates that are in line with the damages involved and have no desire to play games. It is amazing how fast those folks get their claims settled. They really care about their client and will fight for them but also know that dragging out the claim is to their clients detriment. Sure there have been times that they have had to go to appraisal or even refer the claim to an attorney because the carrier will not deal fairly. But that is not their norm. They will bad mouth their own who have no sense of fair dealings, uneducated in insurance and generally are of no moral values. Those are not just new ones but those who have been in the pa business for years but have no morals, could care less about the client and just want to get the most out of it for themselves while saying it is the carrier who is not playing fair.

    Just like the adjusters on the company side who are of no use to anyone, there are as many if not more on the pa side. When you have pa’s who were real estate agents or housewifes or out of work people (can you say Florida)who invested their $300 to take a class and get a license and profess to have knowledge and the ability to settle a claim, but cannot spell public adjuster much less do the job that is expected of them. THAT is where the extreme dislike for pa’s comes from. The same is true for those who took the class, passed the test and became an independent adjuster and sadly mishandles claims.

    Ask any seasoned company or independent adjuster about working with a true professional pa and they will probably say what I have.

    Professional PA’s serve a valid purpose. There are those insureds who do not trust companies, are incapable of dealing with stress, do not have time to deal with the adjuster or like some management companies, have a PA firm on retainer as it is cheaper than hiring someone full time. PA’s can be a check and balance system. As with any business, there are those who do not feel that the rules apply to them and can treat the insured any way they want. A Professional PA is needed when situations like that occur to protect the insured.

  • Chip Merlin

    JR,

    Your point is well taken:

    “When you have pa’s who were real estate agents or housewifes or out of work people (can you say Florida)who invested their $300 to take a class and get a license and profess to have knowledge and the ability to settle a claim, but cannot spell public adjuster much less do the job that is expected of them. THAT is where the extreme dislike for pa’s comes from.”

    FAPIA and NAPIA lobbied the Florida legislature in 2008, as I did, to make the testing requirements much stronger. And, new public adjusters now have to work as a full time apprentice for a year before getting a license in Florida.

    Chip

  • Chip,

    Great post, and as I cant speak for Florida, I can say that this “beef” is present in New York and Northern New Jersey also. And of course, it is everywhere.
    I like Dimitry’s point; and I use this point every time I conclude an appraisal when the opposing appraiser is an adjuster. I formally thank them for under valuing the insured’s claim so much, that the insured had to invoke the appraisal clause, hire me, and allow me to argue the “actual” value of the loss.

    Then, of course, for entertainment value, I send them the “Marketing Material Consent Form”. I explain to them that I am working on a website which will promote the general business of policy holder advocates and appraisers. I explain that I would like to use their “quotes” to demonstrate to the general public as to why the NEED representation and advocating!

    And believe it or not, I actually get responses to this!!!
    However, as a non-public adjuster, I can say that their is merit in both sides of the fence. There are some public adjusters who clearly do not know what they are doing, or do not care. I agree with JR on this. I generally feel that there should be much more educational requirements in order to advocate and essentially represent the financial interests of the policy holder, which can exceed into the millions and beyond. With this being said, most of the public adjusters I deal with are very intelligent, highly educated or at least highly experienced, of high morals, and smart business people. Well, they are smart enough to use us for their contents claims at least! ;)

    And with the same token, I have seen some independent and staff adjusters that are laughable in every sense. IAs that try to adjust 10 claims a day by taking 15 photos and “keeping it moving”, and thinking that depreciation is determined by their carrier’s magic computer program…
    And I have met, many very good and highly competent IAs/SAs, who “adjust with care”, are not bias against public adjusters or insureds who retain them. I have met great adjusters who I respect and I work well with, even though I am usually working for the insured or the public adjuster.

    Essentially, the issues that create this “beef”, in my opinion, are:

    Public Adjusters force the Insurance adjuster to work harder, and they know it.

    Public Adjusters make the Insurance Adjuster the “bad guy” to the policy holder, before they even begin. (Not that they do on purpose, but an insured who knows to hire a public adjuster usually knows that the Insurance Adjuster is not looking out for their interests. I am sure that some Insurance Adjusters act on this.

    Public Adjusters make much more money then the Insurance Adjuster, per claim. The PAs roll up in BMWs, and the Insurance Adjusters roll up in their “Carrier Mobiles” aka economy cars.

    Insurance Companys train their employees to not trust public adjusters and attempt to keep them off the claim.
    I dont fully believe that public adjusters really hate Insurance Adjusters. I think that this hate may stem from their many conversations with policy holders on why THEY should hate their Insurance Adjuster, and why they should not trust them. In reality, a Public Adjuster should hate all the good insurance adjusters, and love all the lazy, dumb, evil, carrier worshiping adjusters..as they “define” their purpose!

  • Chip, I’m fine with increasing testing and other standards for public adjusters. But I’m curious how the apprentice program came about, and how/why FAPIA helped create this.

    Here’s my beef. I have a good apprentice, he did his year, and like anyone just learning, he made a few mistakes. He never stole a penny, never created damage, nothing like that. But DFS took a SINGLE complaint made by someone that did not want to pay a fee for services rendered, and they used that to build a case to deny his full PA application (in his 16th month – leaving him only 2 months to hire an expensive atty to appeal and try to get DFS to reverse).

    I think this program was just what Citizens and the rest of the industry paid for, and I have trouble wrapping my head around how this happened.

    If FAPIA really helped, why?

  • Eugene H. Twarowski, III

    Very good, insurance adjusters should be licensed, public adjusters level the playing field, and stop the insurance adjusters from cheating insureds. Public Adjuster are necessary on all claims.