Public adjusters in Florida have routinely appointed themselves as appraisers for their policyholder clients. This generally saves the policyholder money and provides a person already familiar with the loss and ready to move the appraisal process along. However, based on the trend and discussion in legal court cases, it appears that this practice of self-appointment will be a thing of the past.
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Public adjusters sometimes find themselves in disputes with their own clients. Public adjusters should be paid fees for services they perform as promised in their contracts. Failing to provide those services or performing services which harm rather than help the policyholder will invariably cause the policyholder client to rightfully challenge those fees.
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Chip Merlin and FAPIA Executive Director Nancy Dominguez

The largest public adjuster conferences are with the Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (FAPIA). Nancy Dominguez is the Executive Director pictured with me at this past weekend’s conference. Two major themes resonated at the conference—insurance protection gaps and forgotten catastrophe-victim policyholders.
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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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