Florida public adjusters have been served a huge loss in their ability to solicit and aid policyholders within 48 hours of a loss. A final judgment in Frederick Kortum vs. Alex Sink was issued on May 7, 2010. The ruling, in favor of the Department of Financial Services and upholding Florida Statute Section 626.854(6), reached my desk this morning.
The Court noted that the Department of Financial Services interpreted the statute to be a ban on conduct rather than a suppression of commercial speech. It specifically noted that the Department argued the statute did not ban "e-mails or letters, flyers or door hangars" during the 48 hour period.
The trial court judgment found that the statute exists for a legitimate public purpose to:
provide a citizen that has been traumatized by a casualty loss with some breathing room before making the decisions that will be necessary to begin to put his or her life back together. The statute provides the respite the legislature feels that the victim of a casualty needs. To the Court, that is a substantial and legitimate and important governmental purpose.
The Court went on to note that the statute was drafted narrowly lasting "only 48 hours" and did not attempt to curb the message or alternative forms of commercial speech–just face to face solicitation and telephone calls.
I am certain that there will be discussions of appeal. I am not certain how this will impact public adjusters’ views on the current proposed insurance bill. I will keep the public adjusting community abreast of developments and thoughts regarding this important topic.