Fla. CFO Warns Adjusters Against Discouraging Consumers from Filing a Complaint with DFS

November 18, 2004

Responding to a few complaints that some insurance company adjusters may reportedly be discouraging consumers from contacting the Department of Financial Services for help with a complaint or with filing a hurricane claim, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher has issued an industry warning that such actions could result in license suspension or revocation.

“Although we have received a limited number of complaints, the nature of the allegations are so serious I believe it warrants a public warning,” Gallagher said. “I will not tolerate the rights of Florida’s citizens being impeded in any way. Filing a complaint or request for the department’s help in no way inhibits the ability of claims adjusters to settle claims with an insured, nor does it delay or prolong the process unless someone is acting in bad faith.”

Some hurricane victims said they have reported that adjusters have warned that filing a complaint with the department would slow the claims process. Adjusters engaging in this activity may include insurance company adjusters, independent adjusters or catastrophe adjusters.

Using threats or coercion to dissuade Floridians from filing a complaint with the department violates the provisions of the Unfair Insurance Trade Practices Act as well as the rules regulating the ethical conduct of adjusters. The department can suspend or revoke the license of an adjuster who violates the Insurance Code or department rule, or impose a fine of up to $3,500.

Residents who need assistance filing a hurricane claim or want to file a complaint should call 1-800-22-STORM (1-800-227-8676) or go to www.fldfs.com and click on “Report Insurance Fraud.”

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