What is a Public Adjuster?
A public adjuster is an insurance professional licensed by the State of Florida to represent the insured, and only the insured, during the claims process. These professionals basically investigate your claim, represent you in the claim, and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. They work on a contingency fee basis. By statute, a public adjuster cannot charge more than 20% of your recovery. During a state of emergency – such as during a hurricane – a public adjuster is not allowed to charge more than 10% of your recovery during the first year after the declaration of emergency. Public adjusters, like all adjusters, must adhere to a code of ethics designed to protect the public from unscrupulous tactics.
Many insureds elect to hire public adjusters rather than handling the claim on their own.
On average, insureds that hire public adjusters recover greater amounts than those who do not. In 2005, Florida’s Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability (OPPAGA) found that, on average, insureds that were represented by a public adjuster recovered over $15,000 more than those who were not. Furthermore, OPPAGA’s study found that persons that were represented by a public adjuster generally experienced longer periods of time before receiving a settlement check. Although at first glance this statistic may seem as an impediment, a good public adjuster will conduct a thorough investigation of your claim, which takes time.
Ensure Proper Licensing & Check Background
When hiring a public adjuster you should ALWAYS check the credentials. Unfortunately, all too often people fall prey to scammers and persons misrepresenting their capacity as a public adjuster, especially after a storm. You can run a search on your state government’s website to locate all current licenses held by your public adjuster. You should also review your adjuster's experience handling claims, education, training, and references. Run a Google search. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if your public adjuster has any complaints filed against him or her.
Consider Hiring a Member of a Professional Organization
Many public adjusters are members of state or national organizations, such as the Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (FAPIA) or the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA). Organizations like these require their members to undergo continuing education classes, and some impose even stricter ethical requirements than those imposed by the law. These public adjusters may be required to attend conferences which keep them up to date on changes in the insurance industry. Membership in these organizations provides good indicia that your public adjuster takes their job seriously.
You can reach Miami Insurance Claims Lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo by dialing his direct number at (786) 272-5841, calling the main office at (305) 461-1095, or Toll Free at 1 (866) 71-CLAIM or email Attorney Gonzalez-Sirgo directly at [email protected].
Fl. Stat. 626.854