Sean Shaw sponsored and passed a law that protects victims of hurricanes from scammers and criminals. This new law became effective January 1 of this year. Some bad apples are breaking the law, and these scammers need to be stopped.

Sean and I have long talked about the myriad methods scammers and criminals use to get policyholders to assign contract benefits, make offers that are too good to be true, and overcharge for services. Policyholders should be very wary of anybody who makes promises that sound too good to be true.

Public adjusters have to be licensed. It is criminal for anybody to help or represent a policyholder with a claim who is not a licensed attorney or a public adjuster.

People that are not licensed often call themselves “consultants.” They are really crooks and conducting criminal activity in this state. Policyholders and insurance company adjusters should turn in to the authorities anybody that tries to skirt the law by calling themselves estimators, consultants, appraisers, or whatever. In Florida, those people are scammers and criminals.

Some contractors often work scammers. We are hearing of a few bad apple public adjusters who charge far more than the typical 10% charge that most reputable public adjusters will charge. Their claims solicitors tell policyholders not to worry because they will have contractors who will do the work for some guaranteed amount less than the public adjusters estimate. This is insurance fraud and a complete conflict of interest.

Most replacement cost policies do not require the insurance company to pay more than the amount actually paid to do the work. To get around this and help with the fraud discussed above, the public adjuster advises the policyholder to assign the insurance claim to the contractor who has the pre-agreed deal with the public adjuster to do the work for less than the estimate prepared by the public adjuster—but not to tell the insurance company of this silent deal.

If elected, Sean Shaw will prosecute people who rip off policyholders or rip off insurance companies. The current attorney general and state attorneys should do the same.

Many people in the insurance business do great quality work whether they are adjusters, contractors, public adjusters or attorneys. It is sad that in the greed to make more money or sign a deal, a few bad apples scheme to defraud or take advantage of the desperate situation so many are in. It is not right, it is criminal and those doing this have to be stopped.

  • rogerpoe

    Quote – “People that are not licensed often call themselves “consultants.” They are really crooks and conducting criminal activity in this state. Policyholders and insurance company adjusters should turn in to the authorities anybody that tries to skirt the law by calling themselves estimators, consultants, appraisers, or whatever. In Florida, those people are scammers and criminals.” – End Quote.

    Chip…Question – When ones have disaster background knowledge and expertise to fairly assess all suspect event damage to a structure, are they actually acting illegally by accounting for that damage, and safe and sound reconstruction protocols, and fair reconstruction costs, in order to produce a unbiased disaster recovery reconstruction plan to Insureds?

    • Roger,
      Certainly, people that are competent to do various adjustment functions should be encouraged to apply for a license to allow them to do this line of work. But, there are a number of very competent people that can do this work and have done it fraudulently or in a manner which does not serve the public trust, but lines their own pockets.
      Insurance adjusters have a duty to serve the public trust in Florida. This is required in Florida’s Adjuster Code of Ethics. The Office of Insurance Regulation can oversee their activities.
      If these otherwise competent people are willing to break the law and subject themselves to criminal prosecution, do you not think that those same people would break other laws and not follow a Code of Ethics?

  • shirley heflin

    Dear Chip:

    The law is the law and you’ve made it clear what’s lawful in Florida. Some – specifically non-Attorneys and non Public Adjusters – feel “picked on” because they have a wealth of knowledge and are extremely competent in their chosen fields as Estimators, Insurance Consultants, Contractors, Appraisers, etc. I know many that are intelligent in this regard and I’ve come across some that are incompetent. Their incompetence is revealed by the questions they ask, actions and/or non-actions they do or do not take, etc., when involved with a claim.

    It would be beneficial if ALL States had the same “uniform standards and laws”. Your post addresses what’s lawful in Florida and that one must be an Attorney and/or Public Adjuster to negotiate an insurance claim, but it seems ambiguous if this applicable to ALL States.

    Respectfully,

    • Anthony

      Almost all states license public adjusters. The standards apply in all these states. Florida has stiffer penalties than most states when it comes to unlicensed adjusters.

  • Bill Wilson

    Chip, can you cite the statute for this: “It is criminal for anybody to help or represent a policyholder with a claim who is not a licensed attorney or a public adjuster.” I’m interested in how it reads. I was contacted by an insured for a coverage opinion but declined and referred her elsewhere. Aside from issues I was not comfortable with, there was a question of what information I could provide legally to assist her.