Who is best suited to assist you with your Insurance Claim when you suffer property damage, a Professionally Licensed Public Adjuster or Contractor?
Many people are unsure of who to hire to represent their interest in an insurance claim, professionally licensed Public Adjuster or Contractor. BE CAREFUL! In the aftermath of any natural disaster you are sure to have a knock at you door by a contractor that only is asking for you to assign your insurance proceeds to them and for that they will ‘Represent’ your claim to the insurance company. BE CAREFUL – This is not legal in most cases!
Although the contractor may understand the rebuilding process they most likely do not fully understand your insurance policy and this is very dangerous for you as the property owner. There are many different ways to look at a loss and I can tell you from experience, contractors and adjusters see things differently.
As State Licensed Public Insurance Adjusters we have had to study Policies and get tested on our understanding and application of the policy. As your professional public adjuster we will not only prepare detailed damage estimate but we also have a vast understanding of insurance policies and will review and properly apply all applicable coverages which many times goes way beyond the obvious physical damages. This is very important as there are many small nuances in the policy that can make or break the claim. It is a full time job to keep up on claim practices and small changes in policy language that make huge differences in the way your claim will be handled. If you don’t follow your requirements after a loss you could end up with your claim being denied and nobody being able to assist you.
Any reputable Public Adjuster is going to review your insurance policy and inform you of your coverages and limitations. We will present your claim in the best manner to get your property back to it’s Pre-Loss Condition. We handle everything from notifying the insurance company of your claim, reviewing the policy, estimating damages, presenting damages to adjusters and documenting the entire process. We are not contractors and will not engage in any of the repairs to your property just as the contractor is not an adjuster and should not be involved in the claim process unless brought in as an expert regarding a portion of the claim.
Here is a warning to contractors that was posted on the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation website:
Sometimes contractors attempt to help victims of disasters by offering assistance with their insurance claim. If they do so, they may illegally be engaging in the practice of public adjusting without being properly licensed by the Department of Financial Services.
The definition of a public adjuster, as explained in Section 626.854, Florida Statutes, is any person, except an attorney, who, for money or any other thing of value (which would include securing a contract for repairs):
- Prepares, completes or files an insurance claim form for an insured.
- Aids in any manner on behalf of an insured in negotiating for or effecting the settlement of a claim.
- Advertises or solicits for employment as an adjuster of such claims.
If you are acting as a public adjuster in any manner by negotiating or effecting the settlement of an insurance claim on behalf of an insured and you are performing any of these services for money, commission or anything of value without being licensed as a public adjuster (Section 626.854, Florida Statutes), you could be subject to arrest and may be charged with a third-degree felony as provided by Section 626.8738, Florida Statutes.
As a Public Adjuster, you cannot enter into a contract to do both the public adjusting and construction work on the same property per Florida Statute 626.8795 even if you are also licensed as a Contractor. Public adjusters prohibition of conflict of interest states:
“A public adjuster may not participate, directly or indirectly, in the reconstruction, repair, or restoration of damaged property that is the subject of a claim adjusted by the licensee; may not engage in any other activities that may be reasonably construed as a conflict of interest, including soliciting or accepting any remuneration from, of any kind or nature, directly or indirectly; and may not have a financial interest in any salvage, repair, or any other business entity that obtains business in connection with any claim that the public adjuster has a contract or an agreement to adjust.”
If you come in contact with one of these contractors please do yourself and your neighbors a favor and contact the Department of Financial Services at 850-413-3136 or through its website, https://MyFloridaCFO.com and report this violation.