Volume 4 Number 1
January 2, 2007

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The Department of Financial Services is advising that due to Governor Bush’s declaration of a state of emergency in Pasco, Volusia, Lake and Columbia counties as a result of widespread damage from tornadoes that struck on Monday the maximum fee that public adjusters can charge for tornado victims in those counties is capped at 10 percent of the claim payment.   Furthermore, public adjusters are prohibited from demanding or accepting any type of advance fees, retainers, or other compensation prior to any payment being made on the claim.

A new rule, which went into effect on September 3, 2006, triggers these consumer protections when the governor declares a state of emergency.  Under the new rule, the fee cap will not expire for tornado victims regardless of when they may enter a public adjuster contract for a claim related to damages sustained from the tornado.

Public adjusters are not affiliated with any insurance company and are hired by the consumer for a fee which is usually stated as a percentage of the claim payment that the public adjuster is responsible for recovering.  Independent and company adjusters work for insurance companies and do not charge fees to consumers.

Consumers should make sure they are dealing with a licensed public adjuster by calling the storm hotline or by logging on to www.MyFloridaCFO.com to verify licensure of any adjuster, and should also read and understand any contract before signing.

The department has activated its storm hotline, 1-800-22-STORM (1-800-227-8676), to help storm victims with questions or complaints they may have with filing an insurance claim.