Florida Public Adjuster Q&A & Insights
What is a Public Adjuster?
A public adjuster is a professional licensed by the State of Florida to represent a policyholder in processing insurance claims. They assess the damages to the insured property, review the insurance policy coverage, and negotiate on behalf of the policyholder to get a fair settlement.
Public adjusters provide independent services and are hired by policyholders under a private agreement stating a percentage fee of the money recovered. They negotiate for fair compensation in claims of natural disasters, fires, water damage, mold, etc.
How Much Does a Public Adjuster Cost?
The Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS) regulates the fees charged by public adjusters.
Public Adjusters charge 10% of the recovery for claims under a State of Emergency (usually hurricanes or major catastrophes, for example, Hurricane Ian) but only for the 1st year after the event date. After that is a 20% fee for the recovered amount.
For any other claim, such as water, fire, burglary, or lightning, Florida Public Adjusters can charge 20% of the recovery above and beyond the amount already paid by the insurance.
In Florida, public adjusters must disclose their fee structure in the agreement with the policyholder, furnish a copy of the agreement to the insurance company, and only collect fees after the payment is issued by the insurance company.
The Public Adjusters’ Expertise
The assistance of a Florida public adjuster in a claim can be invaluable to achieve a fair settlement, as claims may be complex and disputes with insurance companies require expertise and “know-how” that an expert public adjuster can provide.
Finding a skilled and experienced public adjuster in Florida who is familiar with your local area can be highly advantageous.
Such an expert will possess in-depth knowledge about the affected region, previous claims, and how insurance companies treat the type of claim.
They will also have expertise in generating accurate estimates and a thorough understanding of the entire claim process workflow.
By leveraging their local knowledge and expertise, a seasoned Florida public adjuster can help ensure you receive the compensation you are entitled to for your losses.
Discover the numerous benefits of hiring a Public Adjuster in our guide, including how they work for policyholders, alleviate stress, navigate policy complexities, and maximize compensation for your property damage claims.
How to Find a Public Adjuster?
Therefore, getting referrals from other clients and checking the adjuster's reputation is essential by looking at online public reviews from other clients in places such as Google Maps, Better Business Bureau, or Yelp. You can also check the adjusters’ status by checking in the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA) and the Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (FAPIA) directory.
Once you find a few possible Florida public adjusters, talk to them, possibly meet with them, and discuss their fee structure. Ask them how the claim process works and how they will communicate with you.
How do I Verify a Public Adjuster License in Florida?
Public adjusters must collect the information and documentation of the case, showing commitment and ethical standards to ensure your case is handled correctly. Its always a good practice to verify their public adjuster's license by doing a public adjuster license lookup in the Florida Department of Financial Services
A Florida public adjuster with extensive handling of similar claims in the area must meet with the client and discuss the fee structure, explain the claim process and timeline and how they will be communicating with the policyholder, collect and document the case, write up the appropriate estimate of the damages, and show the commitment and ethical standards to handle the claim properly. The public adjuster works for the policyholder and should create a transparent and trustworthy relationship.
When To Hire a Public Adjuster?
A Florida public adjuster can help you navigate the insurance claim process once you consider the following factors:
The Complexity of the Claim
A Florida public adjuster can help ensure your claim is thoroughly documented, and all damages are accurately assessed. A public adjuster's expertise can also benefit from complex claims involving multiple coverages or business interruptions.
Time Constraints or Lack of Knowledge
Navigating the claims process can take time and effort. If you lack the time or knowledge to handle the claim, a public adjuster can alleviate and manage the burden.
Fair Settlements Concerns
If you believe your insurance company's assessment of damages is low, or if they have engaged in unfair settlement practices, a public adjuster can provide a second opinion, negotiate for a higher settlement, and advocate for your best interests.
Natural Disasters or Widespread Damage
Insurance companies may be overwhelmed with claims in cases of widespread damage due to a natural disaster, such as a hurricane or flood. They have many inexperienced adjusters after a catastrophe and large workloads that can affect their assessment of the damages, missing or omitting items to be repaired.
Hiring a public adjuster ensures that your claim receives the attention it deserves and a fair settlement. You have your own private adjuster, working the claim on your behalf with the insurance company for your best interest.
Claim Denial or Underpayment
If your insurance claim has been denied or you believe it has been significantly underpaid, a Florida public adjuster can review it, identify potential issues, and help you appeal the decision or negotiate a higher settlement.
How Does the Claim Process Work?
A public adjuster meets with the property owner, inspects damages, and explains the claims process. When contacting the insurance company, they represent the policyholder, meet with field adjusters, and prepare estimates. After a coverage determination, they review the outcome with the client and decide on further steps, if needed.
Learn about the process of working with a public adjuster in Florida, from property inspection to coverage determination, and the steps taken to ensure a fair claim settlement. Read More.
How Does a Public Adjuster Get Paid?
A public adjuster gets paid through a fee structure based on a percentage of the insurance claim settlement for the policyholder. The percentage varies depending on the type of claim.
The contingency fee model aligns the public adjuster's interests with the policyholder's. Since the adjuster's compensation is directly tied to the claim payment amount, they are incentivized to negotiate for the highest possible compensation for the policyholder. They work strictly on a contingency fee basis, which means no recovery, no fee.
It is essential for policyholders to carefully review and understand the fee structure and agreement before signing a contract with a public adjuster. The contract should clearly outline the percentage that will be paid to the adjuster and any other fees or expenses that may be incurred during the claims process.
Who Pays a Public Adjuster?
Policyholders should be aware that the adjuster's fee is typically paid directly from the funds issued by the insurance company for the claim, meaning that the policyholder does not need to pay the adjuster upfront, only after the recovery is made.
Public Adjuster Name on Check
When an insurance claim is settled, the insurance company issues a check as payment. The check is often made out to the policyholder and the public adjuster, indicating both their names. This ensures the public adjuster's fee is accounted for directly from the settlement, maintaining transparency and ethical practices.
Homeowners Insurance Settlement Check
The insurance claim check is typically issued after the insurance company reviews and approves the claim. It's sent to the address of the policyholder as indicated in the policy or to the Public Adjuster’s office. Usually, the first payment is considered the undisputed amount, and if you have not signed a settlement document or release, it just means the insurance company is admitting coverage to the claim. If you want to dispute the amount received, you can consult with a Public Adjuster.
In the event you already have professional representation, such as a Public Adjuster, then this individual can advise in the next step of the claim’s process.
It's important to remember that any deductible outlined in your policy will be subtracted from the total amount. In addition, if you have a mortgage on your property, your insurance company will issue the check to you (the policyholder), the Public Adjuster, and your mortgage lender. This ensures that the mortgage company's financial interest in the property is protected and that the funds are used to make necessary repairs or replacements.
The structure of the settlement check largely depends on your insurance policy and the nature of the claim.
Can I Keep Extra Money From Insurance Claim
In most cases, it's inappropriate for a policyholder to keep extra money from an insurance claim. Insurance payouts are designed to cover the actual cost of damages to bring the policyholder back to their pre-loss condition. The role of a public adjuster is to help ensure the settlement is fair and adequate to cover these costs.
If there is "extra" money, it may indicate the repairs were done for less than the estimated cost. This excess amount could be used to make other repairs not covered by the insurance company or improvements on the property. It's best to consult with a professional, like a public adjuster, to understand the appropriate steps.
Florida Public Adjuster Contract Requirements
In Florida, public adjusters operate under a regulated contract. This agreement must disclose the adjuster's fee structure, cancellation policy, and the public adjuster’s information and be furnished to the policyholder and the insurance company. The contract also specifies that the adjuster can only collect fees after the insurance company issues payment.
The Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS) mandates public adjusters' fees. The contract should be transparent, fostering trust between the adjuster and the policyholder. Before signing, policyholders are advised to review the contract thoroughly, ensuring they understand the fee structure and other pertinent details related to their claims process. Always confirm the adjuster's license status for due diligence.
Public Adjuster Release Form
The Public Adjuster Release Form is a document provided by the Public Adjuster when terminating the services with the homeowner. The Public Adjuster releases the client of the contractual obligation and the representation of the claim.
Another Release form is the one provided by the insurance company to the policyholder when reaching a settlement agreement on the claim, which means they are finalizing the claim for a certain amount of money, and the property owner releases the insurance company of any further liability.
Can a Public Adjuster Be a Contractor
In Florida, a public adjuster cannot simultaneously serve as a contractor on the same claim they are handling. This is due to a potential conflict of interest, as the adjuster negotiates with insurance companies for the highest possible settlement, and as a contractor, they would benefit from higher claim payouts. The separation of these roles helps ensure impartiality and maintains the trust of policyholders. So, while a public adjuster may have previous experience as a contractor, they cannot actively hold both roles at the same time on a single claim to uphold professional and ethical standards.
Public Adjuster for Roof Claim –Can a Contractor or Roofer Handle my Claim Instead of a Public Adjuster?
A Public Adjuster can handle any type of claim, including a roof claim. But many times, we see contractors or roofers trying to handle homeowners' insurance claims.
In the State of Florida, only licensed Public Adjusters and Attorneys can handle your property insurance claim. Contractors or Roofers are not allowed to file and negotiate a claim on your behalf. They can only talk about the estimate, pricing, and items to the repaired.
Be aware of the many roofers that want to initiate the claim and take all the proceeds from the payout. Their contracts tend to be strong and hard to cancel. Also, most of these contractors demand payment of the deductible to them on top of the claim payment, which leaves you with no choice on the type of person who conducts the repairs or the type of work to be performed.
Can a Public Adjuster Work for a Contractor
Typically, a public adjuster is an independent professional licensed by the state, in this case, Florida, to represent policyholders, not contractors. They review, document, and negotiate insurance claims on behalf of the policyholder. While they often collaborate with contractors to get an accurate estimate of property damage, they don't work for them. Their primary duty is to the policyholder. According to Florida Statutes 626.854, public adjusters are prohibited from participating in repairing, restoring, or replacing damaged property subject to a claim adjusted by the public adjuster. Any potential conflicts of interest, like a financial relationship between a contractor and an adjuster, could undermine the adjuster's duty to represent the policyholder's best interests and could be against state regulations. It's essential to check local laws and regulations for specifics.
Should I Use a Public Adjuster
Deciding to Use a Public Adjuster depends on your situation; hiring a public adjuster in Florida could be wise. If your claim is complex, involves significant damage or multiple coverages, or if you simply lack the time or expertise to handle the process yourself, a public adjuster's skills could prove beneficial. Their professional expertise can ensure thorough documentation, accurate damage assessment, and robust negotiations with the insurance company. Public Adjusters are known to get homeowners more money on their claims by a considerable percentage. However, consider their fees, typically a percentage of the claim payout. Also, ensure they have a valid license, a good reputation, and transparent communication before you sign a contract. Ultimately, your decision should be based on your unique circumstances and needs.
How to Terminate a Public Adjuster
If you wish to terminate a public adjuster, the first step is to review the contract you signed with them. Often, these contracts contain specific termination clauses outlining the necessary process. In Florida, the law states that Public Adjusters must give ten (10) days to rescission the contract. Generally, you'll need to provide written notice of your intention to terminate the contract. This notice should be sent by certified mail for proof of receipt.
However, keep in mind that depending on the terms of your contract, you may still owe the adjuster for services rendered up to the point of termination, or a cancellation fee may apply. It's recommended to consult with a legal advisor before taking such action.
At A&H Public Adjusters, we honor the ten days cancelation policy without any cost or fees. You can also send us an email during this period, and we will release you of the contract. After the ten days have expired, we will look at each individual case and let you know what it entails to release you of the contract.
Should I File a Home Insurance Claim for Water Damage
Deciding whether to file a home insurance claim for water damage can depend on several factors. First, assess the extent and cause of the damage. If it's minor and can be affordably repaired out-of-pocket, it may be wise not to file a claim to avoid a potential underwriting review of the policy. However, if the damage is significant or caused by a covered peril in your policy, it would be appropriate to file a claim.
A public adjuster in Florida can assist with assessing the damage, navigating the claims process, and negotiating a fair settlement with your insurance company. Always consult with a professional to ensure your interests are best represented.
A&H Public Adjusters Corp
Don't let the insurance claim process overwhelm you. Contact a Licensed Florida public adjuster today to ensure you receive a fair settlement for your property damage. Learn more about the advantages of working with a public adjuster and how they can support you through every step of the claim process by scheduling a free consultation with our experts.