GALLAGHER IMPOSES EMERGENCY RULES FOR ADJUSTERS IN
ANTICIPATION OF HURRICANE FRANCES’ AFTERMATH
Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher is implementing emergency rules to protect victims of Hurricane Frances from
unreasonable public adjuster fees, similar to emergency rules he imposed for
victims of Hurricane Charley.
Gallagher will cap public adjuster fees at 10 percent of claim payment, prohibit
any up-front payment and give consumers up to 14 days to back out of a contract
without penalty. Citing concerns that storm victims could be targets for fraud,
Gallagher also said he would add to the rules that any contracts that are
redacted in any way after they are signed will be unenforceable.
“By limiting fees, it’s our hope that homeowners and business owners dealing
with the aftermath of the storm know what to expect and aren’t scammed and
gouged financially by public adjusters inflating their fees,” said Gallagher,
who oversees the Department of Financial Services and served as Florida’s
insurance commissioner when Hurricane Andrew hit south Florida in 1992.
Gallagher imposed the same cap on fees and prohibition on up-front payments
within days of Hurricane Charley cutting a destructive path across the state
from Sanibel Island to Daytona Beach on August 13. He did so in response to
reports of some public adjusters demanding fees of as much as
25 percent of claim payment.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Charley, two men were arrested for working as
public adjusters without a license, and at least 30 adjusters have had their
licenses suspended for not carrying required bonds. Several dozen fraud
investigators from the department have fanned out across the storm-damaged
regions to look for unlicensed and unscrupulous public adjusters. Victims of
either storm are urged to ask for proof of state licensure and check with the
department’s toll-free helpline, at
1-800-22-STORM, before signing a contract with a public adjuster.
Florida has licensed more than 500 public adjusters and more than 6,000
additional company adjusters are on the ground to help storm victims. Public
adjusters are not affiliated with any insurance company and work for a fee.
Independent and company adjusters work for insurance companies and do not charge
Our September skyline is Charlotte Harbor
looking toward Punta Gorda before Hurricane Charley.