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A new provision of Florida’s public adjuster law took effect on January 1, 2018 and has significant ramifications for unlicensed contractors, roofers, restoration, and mitigation companies who act as public adjusters or otherwise prepare, complete or file an insurance claim on behalf of an insured.  Florida has regulated the public adjusting industry for years, but the new law provides 626.854(19):

(19) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, no person, except an attorney at law or a public adjuster, may for money, commission, or any other thing of value, directly or indirectly:

(a) Prepare, complete, or file an insurance claim for an insured or third-party claimant;

(b) Act on behalf of or aid an insured or a third-party claimant in negotiating for or effecting the settlement of a claim for loss or damage covered by an insurance contract;

(c) Advertise for employment as a public adjuster; or

(d) Solicit, investigate, or adjust a claim on behalf of a public adjuster, an insured, or a third-party claimant.

626.854(19), Fla. Stat. One of the purposes of this new provision was to prevent individuals from advertising, soliciting or offering to handle and insured’s claim without a public adjuster’s license. Although a contractor or other licensed individuals may discuss their estimate for repairs with the insured or insurance company, the law strictly prohibits adjusting a claim on behalf of an insured without a public adjuster’s license.

Many contractors, roofers and restoration companies advertise for their services.  But be careful, ads or marketing phrases such as: “we’ll handle your claim from start to finish,” “let us negotiate with the insurance company,” or “we deal directly with the insurance company on your behalf” are in direct violation of Florida’s public adjusting law.  Moreover, providing or offering advice to an insured on how to file a claim, or suggesting the best way to handle an insurance claim violates the law!

The penalty for violating the law results in a third-degree felony and each violation of the law constitutes a separate offense.  The statute provides:

626.8738   Penalty for violation. -In addition to any other remedy imposed pursuant to this code, any person who acts as a resident or nonresident public adjuster or holds himself or herself out to be a public adjuster to adjust claims in this state, without being licensed by the department as a public adjuster and appointed as a public adjuster, commits a felony of third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.  Each act in violation of this section constitutes a separate offense.

Considering these severe penalties, it is imperative that all contractors, roofers and restoration companies review their policies and procedures to make sure they do not run afoul of the law.  It is especially important to review these policies and procedures with your employees to ensure employees are not providing information to insureds, or the public, that your company will handle the insurance claim on behalf of an insured.
 

For more information about this law, or if you have any questions about this law may affect your business, contact attorney Earl Higgs at [email protected] or (407) 459-7921. 

To learn more about HIGGS LAW, P.A. visit: www.higgslawpa.com.

Earl I. Higgs, Jr.

For close to 20 years, Earl has devoted his practice to insurance claims and appellate cases. He has represented thousands of businesses and homeowners against insurance companies and has handled a multitude of cases involving property damage, business interruption, hurricane damage, and sinkhole claims.