In less than one month, the Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (FAPIA) will be kicking off their Winter 2011 Conference at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando, Florida. FAPIA has been going strong for over 17 years now and includes over 500 members who are invited to meet twice a year in Florida. The FAPIA conference includes several networking and social events and a full schedule of continuing education courses for public adjusters.

Merlin Law Group will be presenting two courses at the January conference that should not be missed:

  • Florida Case Law Update presented by Chip Merlin, Kelly Kubiak, and Shaun Marker
  • The Sword and Shield of Ethical Public Adjusting presented by Doug Grose, Craig Kubiak, Michelle Claverol of Merlin Law Group with George Keys of Keys Claims Consultants, Inc. and Pat Cuccaro of Adjusters International.

There is still time to sign up and attend the conference; the deadline to register for FAPIA is December, 22, 2010.

If you are considering joining FAPIA, I encourage you to learn about the history of the organization.  Charter member and past president, Raymond A. Altieri, Jr., of Altieri Transco American Claims, has memorialized the history of FAPIA and explains how it all got started:

In December of 1992, NAPIA had moved its Mid-Year Convention to Miami in an effort to accommodate its members who were working in South Florida. The DOI’s Agency Director had come to the meeting as a guest speaker. He warned the entire organization of impending doom for public adjusting in Florida once the next Legislative session opened in a few short months. After this gentleman spoke, Ray Altieri’s partner (at the time) and long time public adjuster, Jerry Levin, of Utica, New York, came to him while he was talking with attorney, William “Chip” Merlin and suggested that we were going to need a state public adjusters association to fight this off. Immediately, they went to work. We contacted all of Florida’s PA’s and attorney Doug Grose. We set a meeting for all Florida Public Adjusters in Orlando.

FAPIA: The Inaugural Meeting

The inaugural meeting took place in February 1993 at the Marriott World Center in Orlando. At dinner the night before the meeting, Chip and Doug, as our legal advisors, proposed a slate of Officers, which was to be voted on the next day by the public adjusters who were in attendance. Raymond A. Altieri, Jr. of Tampa was nominated as the organization’s first President, Steven Lesser of Miami Beach as President–Elect, Stephen Sarasohn of Boca Raton as Vice President, Chuck Howarth of Tampa as Treasurer, and Allan Brodsky of Hollywood as Secretary. The Directors were James Toukatly of Orlando, Craig Tanner of Clearwater, Ron Livingstone of Orlando, and Ira Sarasohn of Boca Raton. Competing public adjusters began to work together for the common good. By the next morning the slate was voted on and accepted. As President, Ray used NAPIA as an organizational model and employed a similar system for FAPIA. It remains in place today. The Board of Directors went forward with three major themes:

  • Prevent the extinction of Public Adjusting in Florida
  • Uniting was mandatory for survival
  • Inclusion of all licensed PA’s in FAPIA was a must to be successful

FAPIA Meets With The Department of Insurance

FAPIA was armed with one strategy. As coined by Chip Merlin, “We must approach on the side of Angels.” Testify from the perspective of what eliminating PA’s would mean to the public, not us! Many of the PA’s named above and others, testified in front of the General Counsel of the DOI on this very issue. We were successful! We were invited to participate in the writing of new legislation. They accepted our work almost verbatim. During this same period and in addition to fighting for our lives to do first party property work, we had to overcome a competing group of PA’s who formed FAPA (Florida Association of Public Adjusters). This group was trying to fight for the “right” to do liability and bodily injury adjusting as an alternative to attorneys! NO WAY!! We separated ourselves greatly from FAPA, we showed the DOI that we would support aggressive and responsible regulation as an industry, and most of all we gained credibility as a new organization with top management personnel at the DOI. WE WERE ALIVE!

FAPIA Moves Forward In It’s First Decade

Armed with newly earned credibility at the DOI, FAPIA flourished. New challenges came and went through sacrifice of time and money by many of the Charter Members. First name basis relationships were established with DOI Division Directors. New proposed Rules and Legislation came forward and the DOI actively sought our input and opinions. FAPIA’s language was inserted into new Bills involving PA’s. The Tallahassee Mid-Year Meeting tradition was established to coincide with the annual Legislative Session to keep us in front of Senators, Representatives, and the DOI. Negative legislation slowed for a period, which allowed FAPIA to turn inward.

By–Law Revisions were made in 2000 to help conform to organizational growth. An Officer’s Ladder was created to send experienced members to the Presidency. FAPIA enhanced its professionalism by developing a website and hiring an Administrator, a Lobbyist, and a CPA firm to assist the organization in its affairs. Through the personal sacrifices of some, our entire association benefits. FAPIA through the hard work of Charter Members and Past Presidents such as Mark Boardman, Kimberly Pope, and Dale McCrory continue to achieve results. Mark is responsible for spearheading FAPIA’s advancement of the industry’s professionalism through Continuing Education and political interaction. Kimberly works hard to obtain Continuing Education credits from the Department of Financial Services for FAPIA’s members. Dale McCrory has almost single-handedly been responsible for all arrangements surrounding our conventions since FAPIA’s inception.

FAPIA has also gained recognition beyond the DOI, as many of its members became members of the Windstorm Network with Dick Tutwiler becoming that organization’s President and Steve Lesser and Jim Toukatly voted to its Board of Directors. NAPIA also has repeatedly recognized FAPIA as the largest and best State public adjusting association in the country. For its efforts to further the cause of public adjusting FAPIA has also been rewarded through NAPIA, by it’s voting of Raymond A. Altieri, Jr. to its Officer’s Ladder, where he will become NAPIA’s President in 2011. FAPIA’s growth has been outstanding. Our first meetings would attract 20 to 30 PA’s. Today, at our meetings, we exceed 250 members. That’s a testimony to the hard work of all.

Look for my next post in this series of Public Adjusting Stories on January 1, 2011.