Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink issued an emergency rule prohibiting public insurance adjusters from collecting fees on contracts with policyholders whose homes were destroyed earlier this month by tornadoes if there is no dispute with the insurance company that the home is a total loss.
The emergency rule, issued last Friday to cover policyholders in Lake, Seminole, Sumter and Volusia counties affected by the Feb. 2 tornadoes, also gives homeowners 14 days to rescind a public adjuster contract without penalty.
Public adjusters are not affiliated with any insurance company and are hired by the consumer for a fee, which is usually a percentage of the claim payment. The emergency rule can be viewed at http://www.fldfs.com/Agents/Emer-Rules/Emerg_Rule_Torn-Pub-Adj_02_07.pdf.
To find out more about public adjusters or get help with filing an insurance claim, call the Department of Financial Services at 1-800-22-STORM (1-800-227-8676) or log on to www.fldfs.com.
“Public adjusters provide a service when consumers feel they cannot negotiate with their insurance company on their own,” Sink said. “We simply want to make sure that no one takes advantage of the financial and emotional turmoil these victims are facing.”
Bob Besserman, president of the Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters, said a public adjuster inspects the loss site, analyzes the damages, assembles claim support data, reviews the insured’s coverage, and exclusively serves the client, not the insurance company. Besserman encourages consumers to check with DFS to ensure they are working with a licensed public adjuster.
“When a property is decreed a total loss by the insurance company, that does not mean that is all you are entitled to,” Besserman said. “Be aware that there are extensions of coverage such as personal property, debris removal and code upgrades, to name just a few, and perhaps additional endorsements over and above the written limit of coverage.”
Because of the Governor’s declaration of emergency, the maximum fee that public adjusters can charge tornado victims in the affected area is capped at 10 percent of the claim payment, regardless of when they enter into a public adjuster contract for a claim related to tornado damage. Furthermore, public adjusters are prohibited from demanding or accepting any type of advance fees, retainers, or other compensation prior to any payment being made on the claim.
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