I have heard that a common approach to handling claims by some insurance carriers in Florida is to send a Special Investigation Unit (“SIU”) representative out on all claims where there is a public adjuster involved. When I did insurance defense work much of my focus was on fraud investigations. We worked closely with SIU for various insurance carriers in that regard. If SIU was involved, it typically meant that the insurance carrier felt there was something suspicious about the loss. Sometimes that investigation focused on certain players in certain types of losses and how they all came together and why they were being seen in certain scenarios repeatedly. However, at a recent Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters Conference, several public adjusters were discussing how they regularly see SIU involved in typical day-to-day water loss claims for residential properties, and that they are told SIU is there because the policyholder hired a public adjuster. Do the insurance carriers that employ this tactic think that public adjuster involvement in claims is suspicious?

Insurance carriers must protect themselves from fraud, deception and other bad things they see happen in some claims. However, having SIU involved right out the gate just seems wrong to me when the reason is because there is a public adjuster involved. Most states have statutes and laws that allow consumers to hire public adjusters. Those laws often outline public adjusters’ roles in claims. Having SIU knock on a policyholder’s door certainly seems like an attempt to intimidate when the explanation for their being there is the involvement of a public adjuster.

I would love to hear from those in the field on both sides of the fence about the perceptions on this tactic. It just does not make sense to me why it would be necessary to have SIU involved in every claim when a public adjuster is retained by the policyholder. Should you feel like your insurance carrier is doing this as an intimidation or bully tactic, contact competent legal counsel to discuss your options.