The 2013 Windstorm Insurance Conference® was a success. Merlin Law Group had a number of attorneys speak at the Conference–including yours truly.

My subject matter was the Gulf Coast Case Law Update. Sounds boring? Not when I am making the presentation because it was a question and answer forum with lots of practical and honest discussion.

If you missed it and you think you are a property insurance coverage guru (pretty nerdy if you are), here is the PowerPoint of the presentation so you can see how you would do:

The Windstorm Insurance Conference is a fun forum to learn and offers significant networking opportunities. While most of the membership is insurance industry representatives, there are policyholder advocates. Here are some of my favorites at the Board of Directors dinner:

(Clockwise from top left–Randy Paul, Matt Danahy, Rick Tutwiler, Chip Merlin, Dick Tutwiler)


    Dear Chip:

    Great picture!

    There’s nothing “nerdy” about property insurance coverage (as seen from the perspective of the insured, of course). Of course, my nerdiness was instilled by the guru of nerds (ha ha).

    (Tampa, FL)

  • Troy Johnson

    Ethics aside,

    Can a Public Adjuster raise the cost on fees
    that need to be paid on a claim he is working (Tornado Damage)?

    Engineering Fees of 3500.00 (Real Cost).

    The cost charged to the customer 5500.00.

    Thanks for any information.

  • Chip Merlin


    Ask your friends to read the Powerpoint and ask them how excited they are when they are through. My bet is that not one of them finishes. It is a dry subject.

    If it were exciting, people would entertain insurance policy reading parties on Friday nights.

  • Chip Merlin


    How can you put ethics aside?

    From a contract standpoint, I cannot understand how a public adjuster could get charged a fee from an engineer and then apply a higher charge as a cost to the client absent a written agreement allowing for the same. It may even be fraud if the lower invoice is not disclosed at the time of charging the higher cost.

    I do know of some law firms, not mine, that charge interest on advanced costs. Those charges have to agreed to in advance and in writing.

    Finally, some states, like Florida, require public adjusters to disclosure experts and of costs in advance and at the time the intitial contract is entered into.

  • Insurance Examiner

    The contract between the PA and the Insured should be reviewed. Each contract is different so this is not something that can be answered easily. Then I would review the DOI regulations for the specific jurisdiction to see if the PA’s contract complies with the state laws.
    A fully understand the need for a Public Adjuster in many instances, but insureds should be reading the contracts they sign.

  • Chip Merlin

    Insurance examiner,

    Making a profit on work not done seems wrong to me. The public adjuster is already making a profit on seervices contracted for. If the public adjuster wants to charge a finance fee, it certainly should not be usurious.

    I do not know of one public adjusting firm that does this practice as questioned. Most public adjusting firms advance costs up to a point and then require the insured to pay the costs directly.

    Your point is well taken. Consumers should read the contracts.

  • Insurance Examiner


    I agree that it seems wrong. However, as an examiner for many many years, I have read various contracts the insureds have signed with many different entities, where they agree to pay unreasonable fees/charges.

    If the PA presented the engineering invoice to the carrier at the inflated value, misrepresenting the actual costs, this may violate the policy and specific statuatory laws.

    You just have not provided enough information for anyone to clearly answer your question.

  • Chip Merlin

    Insurance Examiner,

    Keep coming back because we all could benefit from your viewpoint and experience.

    For the record, it was not my question. Troy Johnson got us started down this discussion. Maybe he will rejoin us to clarify the state where this happened and provide us some more facts.

    Regardless, I appreciate you taking the time to comment.



    In over 2 decades i’ve never heard of a public adjuster coming out of pocket to pay any cost on a pending insurance claim; hope to goodness they’re not trying to get this money from the insured during the pendency of the claim and to mark it up ………..sounds illegal and immoral.