Volume 5, No. 8 - August 2016

In The Know

- Keeping you informed is what it's all about

hurricaneThe National Hurricane Center recently adjusted its original forecast and anticipates a more active period for the remainder of this year's Hurricane Season. We've reprinted two articles as a reminder to be prepared.

State of Emergency Claims - Special Requirements Upon Governor's Declaration

For claims that are based on events that are the subject of a declaration of a state of emergency by the Governor, and during the year after the declaration of emergency:

  • A public adjuster may not charge, agree to, or accept from any source compensation, payment, commission, fee, or any other thing of value in excess of ten percent (10%) of the amount of insurance claim payments made by the insurer for claims for one year after the declaration of emergency is issued.
  • The insured or claimant has 5 business days after the date on which the contract is executed to cancel a public adjuster’s contract.

The following are excerpts of the standards of conduct that define ethical behavior, and are included in the code of ethics:

  • The work of adjusting insurance claims engages the public trust. An adjuster shall put the duty for fair and honest treatment of the claimant above the adjuster’s own interests in every instance.
  • An adjuster shall not attempt to negotiate with or obtain any statement from a claimant or witness at a time that the claimant or witness is, or would reasonably be expected to be, in shock or serious mental or emotional distress as a result of physical, mental, or emotional trauma associated with a loss.
  • An adjuster shall not directly or indirectly refer or steer any claimant needing repairs or other services in connection with a loss to any person with whom the adjuster has an undisclosed financial interest.
  • A public adjuster shall not prevent, or attempt to dissuade or prevent, an insured or claimant from speaking privately with the insurer, company employee adjuster, independent adjuster, attorney, or any other person, regarding the settlement of the claim.
  • A public adjuster shall not enter into a contract or accept a power of attorney which vests in the public adjuster the effective authority to choose the persons who shall perform repair work.

Please refer to Section 69B-220.201, Florida Administrative Code for the full Adjuster Code of Ethics.

Public Adjusters - Are You Ready For Hurricane Season?

The time to be sure your license is in compliance is now - not when a storm is heading our way! This is a short checklist to ensure your license is in good standing:

  • Is your license active?
  • Are you self-appointed or appointed by an adjusting firm?
  • Do you have the required $50,000 surety bond?
  • Are you compliant with your continuing education requirements?
  • Has a primary adjuster been designated for your firm?
  • Is all contact information up-to-date? You can update it at MyProfile.
  • Are any apprentices licensed and appointed?
  • Do you have your Department issued license with you?

Notice of Development of Rulemaking - Neutral Evaluators

The Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Agent & Agency Services, hereby provides Notice of Development of Rulemaking to Chapter 69B-251, Florida Administrative Code. This notice has been filed with the Florida Department of State and was officially published in the Florida Administrative Register on August 26, 2016.

The purpose of the intended rulemaking is to establish the qualifications for obtaining certification as a neutral evaluator, the grounds for denial of applications, and the grounds for the suspension or revocation of the certification of a neutral evaluator.

Pursuant to subsection 627.7074(1), F.S., the Department certifies the neutral evaluators used in neutral evaluations for sinkhole insurance claims. Subsection 627.7074(18), F.S., was amended to require the Department to adopt rules for obtaining certification, denying certification of, suspending certification of, and revoking the certification of a neutral evaluator. Paragraph 627.706(7)(b), F.S., sets forth the grounds for the denial of an application and for the suspension or revocation of the certification of a neutral evaluator.

A rule development workshop has been scheduled on September 13, 2016, at 10:00 a.m. Eastern in Tallahassee, Florida.

You may access the full text of the notice via the following link: https://www.flrules.org/gateway/View_Notice.asp?id=17933862.

Agency and Firm Owners: Check Your Hires' Backgrounds

Agency and firm owners have an obligation to check the backgrounds of individuals they hire for administrative action history with the Department and for criminal history. Employing an individual with a suspended or revoked license can lead to action against your own license and possibly criminal charges.

Florida law states that during the period of suspension or revocation of a license or appointment, and until the license is reinstated or, if revoked, a new license issued, the former licensee or appointee may not engage in or attempt or profess to engage in any transaction or business for which a license or appointment is required. Additionally, they may not directly or indirectly own, control, or be employed in any manner by an agent, agency, adjuster, or adjusting firm.

It is also important to know the criminal background of individuals employed in your agency. Some licensees, such as bail bond agents, are prohibited from allowing convicted individuals in their agencies. A person who has been convicted of or who has pleaded guilty or no contest to a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude or a crime punishable by imprisonment of 1 year or more regardless of whether adjudication of guilt was withheld, may not act in any capacity for a bail bond agency or participate as a director, officer, manager, agent, contractor, or employee of any bail bond agency or office. Any person who permits a person who has been convicted to do so can be charged with a third degree felony.

[See 626.342, 626.621, 626.641, 648.387, 648.44, and 648.441, Florida Statutes]

The 2015 Florida Statutes Now Available Online

The most current Florida Statutes can now be viewed at Online Sunshine - Title XXXVII Insurance.