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Last Update: 02/01/16

Florida’s 2013 Hurricane Season began with Tropical Storm Andrea hitting the Dixie County Beach on June 6, 2013, and quickly moving up through Florida toward North Carolina and up the East Coast, bringing rain and high winds all the way to Maine. While not the biggest tropical storm, much less hurricane, to hit Florida in recent years, Tropical Storm Andrea did pack a wallop in the way of property damage — along with a number of tornadoes that accompanied her as she made her way through Florida’s coastline.

The National Weather Service reports that Tropical Storm Andrea brought with her 10 or more tornadoes, all of which caused property damage (trees, power lines, roofs, cars, etc.) in Myakka City, Sun City Center, The Acreage, Belle Glade, Gulfport, South Venice, Clearwater, Mayport and Fernandina Beach. Thankfully, no lives were lost.

Public Adjusters in Florida

Of course, one thing that can be counted on here in Florida whenever a tropical storm or hurricane or tornado plows through here is that just like the inevitable storm surge and flash flooding that comes with these kinds of weather events are the Public Adjusters that descend upon the places suffering from harm and damage due to wind, hail, rain, and flooding. As Consumerist and the South Florida Sun Sentinel warned last month, public adjusters can be on the scene even before emergency crews arrive.

In Florida, home owners and other insurance policy holders can be unaware of their own losses while the speedy public adjuster has already arrived, reviewed, and assessed the scene of damage. Amazing how fast some of these public adjusters can move.

What is a Public Adjuster?

Florida Statute 626.869 authorizes the State of Florida to issue licenses to people who will act as a “public adjuster,” joining the majority of states in this country who recognize this type of insurance professional. In Florida, a “public adjuster” acts to negotiate the policyholder’s claim with the insurance company – on behalf of the insured.

They are not lawyers, but most property damage and personal injury lawyers in Florida – the type of lawyers who normally help people who have been hurt or injured in natural disasters or motor vehicle accidents, like car crashes – have had dealings with public adjusters who have acted competently in representing their client in getting a fair deal from the client’s insurance company.

Beware “Insurance Specialists” and Dishonest Adjusters – Especially After a Natural Disaster (Hurricane, Tornado, Fire) 

Thing is, people do get hurt by people acting as public adjusters. For example, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announced a few weeks ago that three men had been arrested over in Tallahassee for acting as unlicensed public insurance adjusters as they went around the community drumming up roof repair business. From Florida CFO Atwater: 

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announced today the arrests of Derek Shawn Kellog, 31, Crawfordville; Corey Jermaine Brownlee, 30, Jacksonville; and Sean McCaslin, 49, Tallahassee; employees of Roofmasters, Inc., for acting as unlicensed public adjusters while soliciting homeowners for roof repairs in the Tallahassee area.

An investigation by the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud revealed that Roofmasters, Inc., based in Jacksonville, used high-pressure sales tactics and informed homeowners they were “insurance specialists” and could assist them in dealing with their insurance companies. Company literature notes that homeowners may be entitled to a new roof with no out-of-pocket expense. Roofmasters, Inc. submitted an insurance claim on behalf of a homeowner, violating Florida law. 

In fact, Jeff Atwater has issued a public warning to all Floridians to be aware that dishonest people acting as Insurance Adjusters may try and take advantage of people suffering in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Andrea.  From the Office of the Chief Financial Officer of the State of Florida comes this advice:

“Regrettably, there are individuals who will try to take advantage of consumers in a disaster situation,” CFO Atwater said. “Consumers should verify licensure, refuse to pay cash up front and thoroughly read any contracts prior to signing.” 

CFO Atwater urges Floridians to immediately report property damage to their insurance agent and company. If making temporary repairs, keep receipts and document with photos or videos. Additionally, he reminds consumers to never use a generator indoors or in any enclosed area. Avoid using candles, and do not use a candle or lantern near a generator or stored fuel.

If you or a loved one have some concerns about dealings with an insurance adjuster, then please feel free to contact the State of Florida (800-378-0445) for confirmation that everything is on the up and up, and consider enlisting the aid of a Florida property damage or personal injury lawyer to advocate for full and fair compensation on your insurance claim(s).  

What Should You Do?

A good piece of advice if you have been harmed by your insurance adjuster, is to at least speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you file a claim to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person) to answer your questions.



Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.



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