Volume 1 Number 37
September 13, 2004










TEXT VERSION

 

 

 

 


GALLAGHER ORDERS INSURANCE COMPANIES TO REPORT PRICE GOUGING BY INDEPENDENT ADJUSTERS

TALLAHASSEE-With Floridians recovering from back-to-back storms and facing the potential for a third storm early next week, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher is addressing what may become a fourth problem - a shortage of insurance adjusters.

Gallagher asked Florida’s Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty to issue an emergency order today requiring all property and casualty insurance companies licensed in Florida to report any instances of price gouging by independent adjusters. Gallagher said that he and McCarty had heard of independent adjusters demanding exorbitant fees from insurance companies desperate to find more adjusters.

“Our first priority is to make sure all claims are handled as expeditiously as possible, and we appreciate the response we have had from adjusters, ” Gallagher said. “But at the same time we will fight to contain costs that may get passed on to consumers because of the actions of a few rogue adjusters.”

The emergency order also requires property and casualty insurance companies to report any violations of Florida’s insurance codes, including activity by unlicensed adjusters.

Gallagher, who as Florida’s CFO oversees the Department of Financial Services, also served as insurance commissioner in 1992 when South Florida was struck by Hurricane Andrew. After August 13, when Hurricane Charley struck, Gallagher dispatched more than 50 of the department’s investigators into the storm-damaged areas to be on the lookout for adjuster fraud. Following the arrests of two unlicensed public adjusters, the department has received no new reports of unlicensed adjusters.

Public adjusters do not work for any insurance company, charge an independent fee to help file and collect on a claim, and will require a contract. Gallagher has capped public adjuster fees at 10 percent. Company and independent adjusters represent the insurance company in determining the amount of property damage and what is covered by your policy.

“Floridians must be vigilant about verifying license status before signing any adjuster agreement,” Gallagher said. “And now we are urging the companies to help themselves and their policyholders by not giving in to unreasonable demands by independent adjusters.”