Public adjusting firms are often small family businesses. Many are multigenerational. Art Jansen’s passing last month made me reflect on these ideas, the pioneer role he played establishing public adjusting in Texas, Art Jansen, Jr. and Art Jr’s good friend, Jim Beneke.

The Beneke and Jansen families started the business of public adjusting in Texas. Art Jansen moved his family from New Jersey to Texas in the late 1978, starting Jansen & Company. This was a little more than a decade after Bob Beneke started his public adjusting firm as R.G. Beneke & Company in 1965.1 While many Texas public adjusters today may take their ability to practice public adjusting for granted, Bob Beneke and Art Jansen both had to contend with those that argued any public adjusting activity was an unlicensed criminal act and the unauthorized practice of law.

Art Jansen is forever cited in Texas legal precedent, Unauthorized Practice of Law Commission v. Jansen,2 about allegations of the unauthorized practice of law. The court agreed that the practice of public adjusting was legal and public adjusters could practice their trade so long as they did not overstep into the practice of law, making this finding:

We cannot agree with UPLC’s contention that providing an estimate of property damage and filling out the appropriate forms to present a claim constitutes the practice of law. In reality, this is the same procedure any insured is required to follow to collect on an insurance policy. The fact that appellee is paid for his services and expertise does not convert his actions into the practice of law. Our holding is not to be construed as authorizing discussions or “negotiations” with insurance companies into coverage matters. Nor do we mean to imply that “presenting” a claim to the insurance company by a public insurance adjuster is the same as negotiating a settlement. The former is, in essence, merely delivering necessary paperwork and data while the latter entails the practice of law. Interpretation of insurance contracts would also most likely cross the line into the practice of law. Appellee agrees that if the issue to be submitted to an insurance company involves a coverage dispute, then the services of an attorney are required. We find that the trial court arrived at a suitable accommodation that will not totally eliminate the profession of public insurance adjusting in the State.

Art Jansen and Bob Beneke were founding members of the Texas Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (TAPIA.) Art served as TAPIA’s President and was active in the leadership of the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA) serving on its Board of Directors.

The fruit does not fall far from the tree for many public adjusters. Art Jansen, Jr. and Jim Beneke met with Mary Fortson and me in 2008 to re-establish TAPIA—the same TAPIA their fathers started about 20 years earlier. Art Jansen, Jr. and Jim Beneke served as TAPIA presidents. Both Art Jansen, Jr. and Jim Beneke served as presidents of NAPIA. Just like their fathers, the sons are leaders of their profession. They also have children working in their public adjusting businesses and hope the younger generation will eventually find the same fulfillment, joy, and purpose in life that they do from public adjusting.

Jim Beneke had this to say about the senior Art Jansen:

I have a lot of respect for the way Art lived his life. A good family man, a worthy competitor, and a champion for the traditional public adjusting industry. I was honored to work with him and Art Jr. to fight against the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee’s effort to put us out of business. Ultimately, those efforts led to the licensing law we now enjoy. I also admire the relationship Art and Art Jr. shared, and the company they built.

Long time Texas public adjuster Bill Hoffman told me that Art Jansen was a “great guy” and a “tenacious” competitor. Public adjuster David Moore told me how the two Arts were best friends, fabulous at running their business together before Art retired, and guys that liked to be around their family.

Art Jansen, Jr. told me that he started working with his father in the family public adjusting business as most children of public adjusters do—counting the contents after a loss. He also expressed hope that his own son will return full time to the business after he finishes college. Something tells me senior Art Jansen passed having the same hope.

Thought For The Day

I can’t say that I grew up saying, ‘Someday I want to be vice president of the Lakers,’ because that’s not how it happened. I work for our family business, and that happens to be the Lakers.
—Jeanie Buss
1 Bob Beneke’s tribute
2 Unauthorized Practice of Law Comm. v. Jansen, 816 S.W. 2d 813 (Tex. App. 1991).