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Gallagher Announces the Fifth Arrest of an Unlicensed Public Adjuster Working in Hurricane-damage Area

10/15/2004

CONTACT: DFS Press Office
(850) 413-2842
FORT MYERS—A Pennsylvania man working in the Fort Myers area was arrested today by investigators with the Department of Financial Services on a charge of operating as a public adjuster without a license. 
 
Albert E. McBride III, 36, of Prospect Park, Pa., McBride is the fifth unlicensed public adjuster arrested in hurricane-hit areas and the second arrest of an individual working for Young Adjustment Company, Inc. out of Blue Bell, Pa.  His arrest followed an investigation and undercover operation by the Department of Financial Services' Division of Insurance Fraud and Bureau of Agent and Agency Investigations.  The investigators worked closely with Nationwide Catastrophic Claims Adjusters. 
 
 Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services, urges residents to the Florida licensure of any adjuster, not just public adjusters, before signing any contract.
 
"Disasters bring out the best and, unfortunately, sometimes the worst in people," said Gallagher, who served as Florida's Insurance Commissioner when Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992.  He has set up a toll-free number for storm victims to call for any storm-related assistance.  Floridians needing help with filing an insurance claim, getting an adjuster, verifying licensure, or settling a claim with their insurance company can call 1-800-22-STORM (1-800-227-8676) every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
 
In August, Gallagher issued an emergency rule allowing claimants 14 days to back out of any contract with a public adjuster.  He also ordered that public adjusters cannot require any up-front payment and capped public adjuster fees at 10 percent of any claim payment.
 
Investigators obtained an insurance claim settlement contract that McBride allegedly presented to a consumer, and the contract form had no percentage rate to be paid to the adjuster, information required by law to be included. 
McBride was booked in to the Lee County Jail and, if convicted on the third-degree charge, faces up to five years in prison.