Today is the first day of the year 2011. New laws will soon follow the new year. Insurance regulation will likely be a hot topic in many areas of the country as leaders get together for new sessions. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Michael C. Bayer, of North East Adjustment Company, Inc. Mike is the co-chair for the legislative committee of CAPIA, the recently formed Connecticut Association of Public Insurance Adjusters.

CAPIA was formed when several public adjusters licensed in Connecticut came together as a common force opposing a bill written to regulate the amount of adjustment time a public adjuster could work a claim before the claim was required to be resolved in appraisal. Mike explained the proposed legislation would have capped the amount of time a public adjuster could present and work the claim with the insurance company to 30 days; after 30 days, the claim would be appraised. Public adjusters in Connecticut worked together to explain why it can take longer than 30 to adjust a claim for a policyholder. The united efforts of these public adjusters seemed to be beneficial– the proposal and regulation were defeated.

Recognizing the need to work together, Mike Bayer and his business partner, Philip Falker, worked as members of the CAPIA legislative committee to push changes to Connecticut statutory definition of a public adjuster. Mike explained that working to clearly define what a public adjuster does would help to ensure unlicensed persons were not adjusting claims on behalf of policyholders. He also explained there is a need in Connecticut to stop contractors and remediation workers from attempting to negotiate settlements between homeowners and insurance carriers after a loss occurs. By more clearly defining “public adjuster” and the public adjuster’s role, the committee pushed legislation changes that proactively protected their profession rather than waiting for proposed changes or new laws that dramatically alter the role or requirements of public insurance adjusters.

The proposed changes to the legislation were simple additions that explained the duties of the public adjuster. Although the statute changes were specific only to obligations of public adjusters and did not impact independent or company adjusters, the insurance association opposed the changes. The insurance Association of Connecticut (IAC) presented testimony and an extensive written memorandum in opposition to the changes. In response, Mike Bayer and others testified in favor of the bill and provided a first-hand explanation of why clarification of the statute would benefit the policyholders of Connecticut.

The IAC argued that the drafted bill provided no benefit for the consumer and is contrary to the law in the vast majority of states. The IAC argued the proposed changes would in essense require all insurance claims be presented by public adjusters only.

The Connecticut Legislature did not appear to be persuaded by the IAC, as the changes requested by CAPIA were adopted when the bill was passed.

Thanks to the hard work of Mike, Philip, and the other members of CAPIA, the proposed changes went into effect on October 1, 2010. For 2011, the committee is working on promoting additional changes to help the policyholders in Connecticut get claims resolved with more deliberate speed and without unnecessary delay from the insurers.

Michael Bayer and Philip Flaker, CPPA, together with Roland Grenier, are the principles of North East Adjustment Company, Inc. Based out of West Hartford, Connecticut, North East has been helping policyholders since 1989.