Chip Merlin and Steve Badger

(Note: This guest post is by Steven Badger, a Partner at Zelle, LLP, where he represents the commercial property insurance industry in emerging and significant risk exposures. In addition to representing his clients in litigated disputes, Steve spends considerable time working with the insurance industry and other interested stakeholders in finding solutions to the abuses and outright fraud prevalent in these matters. This includes development of policy form changes and legislative solutions to address common issues, as well as the identification and pursuit of actions against fraudulent actors involved in these matters.)

I was surprised to learn this week of a PLRB webinar slide in which an attorney from my law firm made a general negative statement about public adjusters. I had never seen the slide before. I knew nothing about it. In fact, I initially doubted that it was even real, as I didn’t expect that an attorney in my law firm would take such a position.

But, unfortunately, the slide was real.

It was just being circulated and considered out of context.
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Insurance companies have never embraced people or professionals helping their own customers obtain what they are owed or laws that may expose insurance claim abuses by insurers. The obligation to treat the insurance customer with utmost good faith is one that is taught, but not one the insurance claim industry wants to be held accountable to follow. They especially do not want their own customers to have free-market accountability through private lawsuits enforcing this agreed to obligation. Instead, it appears to many that insurance executives want customers that are “sheep” and take what the insurance claims department determines is owed without question.
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The Round-up: The Texas Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (“TAPIA”) has lassoed and corralled a great group of speakers and events that you absolutely will not want to miss this fall in Fort Worth. If you register by August 31st, members will only have to “pony-up” $149 and non-member, first timers $195. If you don’t have a bed roll or pup-tent to pitch, early registration is already open at Embassy Suites Downtown Fort Worth at 600 Commerce Street. You can save a nickel at Embassy Suites if you register by September 16th and mention “TAPIA” to get a TAPIA rate. Register either on line or call (817) 332-6900.
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The Florida Third District Court of Appeals recently held that the policyholder’s public adjuster cannot be the policyholder’s appraiser.1 This decision will have a major impact on appraisals because many public adjusters act as their own appraisers. It should be assumed that the insurance company’s adjusters cannot act as appraisers as well. The decision should be reviewed by all public adjusters, appraisers and umpires that handle appraisals.
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The California Fair Claims Settlement Practices Act imposes multiple deadlines to respond and report to insureds during a claim adjustment. Knowing and understanding an insurer’s reporting duties and deadlines can speed up the adjustment and payment of a claim. Although a failure to meet a deadline by a day or two may not, in and of itself, constitute bad faith, failing to respond to an insured or repeated failure to meet deadlines is evidence of an insurer’s poor conduct and may be evidence of bad faith.
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Michigan Director of Insurance Anita Fox

The Michigan Director of Insurance recently issued the following bulletin:

MICHIGAN INSURANCE BULLETINS AND RELATED MATERIALS
BULLETINS
Bulletin 2019-07-INS
April 17, 2019

FROM: Anita G. Fox
Director Of Insurance
DATE: April 17, 2019

RE: RESIDENTIAL PUBLIC ADJUSTER CONTRACT

This bulletin supersedes Bulletin 2018-22-INS, dated November 20, 2018.

The Director has approved a new residential public adjuster contract. The effective date of the new contract is May 15, 2019. All licensed public adjusters must begin using the new contract on that date; and must file the new contract with DIFS no later than June 30, 2019.


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An excellent and successful insurance company defense attorney, Bill Berk and I were on a panel presentation at the 2019 Windstorm Insurance Conference earlier this year. Berk reminded the audience of adjusters that under Florida law, they should not be saying or implying bad things about each other. He noted this Florida regulation:

A public adjuster shall not represent or imply to any client or potential client that insurers, company adjusters, or independent adjusters routinely attempt to, or do in fact, deprive claimants of their full rights under an insurance policy. No insurer, independent adjuster, or company adjuster shall represent or imply to any claimant that public adjusters are unscrupulous, or that engaging a public adjuster will delay or have other adverse effect upon the settlement of a claim.
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One of the strongest tools in an insured’s arsenal is a good public adjuster. If lucky, most insureds will only suffer a property loss once or twice in a lifetime. Not dealing with claims handling on a day to day basis, navigating the claims process can be not only confusing and tedious, but costly as well if the insured does not know when they are being treated unfairly.
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