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NJ: ASSEMBLY PANEL OKS GREEN & STENDER BILL TO PREVENT PUBLIC ADJUSTERS IN N.J. FROM OVERCHARGING HOMEOWNERS FOLLOWING CLAIMS OF PRICE GOUGING DURING SANDY
(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Jerry Green and Assemblywoman Linda Stender to cap how much a public adjuster can charge a homeowner for insurance claim assistance for certain emergencies was advanced Thursday by an Assembly panel.
Green decided to pursue the bill after hearing complaints during a meeting in Union County last year from homeowners affected by Sandy who were overcharged by public adjusters hired to appraise their insurance claims. Public adjusters are experts on property loss adjustment who are retained exclusively by policyholders to assist in preparing, filing and adjusting insurance claims.
"Public adjusters are supposed to look out for the best interests of the homeowner, but according to these residents, some of these adjusters were charging up to 40 to 50 percent of what the insurance company was to pay eventually. This is a crime. A loan shark doesn't even charge that much," said Green (D-Union, Middlesex, Somerset). "There is nothing currently in the books to prevent these individuals from taking advantage of these homeowners. This bill changes that."
"The damage caused by a natural disaster can be devastating. Navigating the system as you try to rebuild can be equally consuming. The last thing a homeowner affected by Sandy or any other natural disaster needs is a public adjuster who is more interested in making money than helping," said Stender (D-Middlesex, Somerset, Union). "This bill will limit the amount that a public adjuster can charge a homeowner when settling insurance claims following a catastrophic loss occurrence."
The bill (A476) would prohibit an individual, firm, association or corporation licensed under the "Public Adjusters' Licensing Act" from charging, agreeing to or accepting any compensation in excess of 10 percent of the amount paid out by the insurer for claims based on events that,are the result of a catastrophic loss occurrence. As defined in the bill, "catastrophic loss occurrence" means an occurrence designated by the President of the United States or the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or the Governor or the State Office of Emergency Management in the Division of State Police in the Department of Law and Public Safety, or any other authorized federal, state or local agency, as an emergency or a disaster and includes, but is not limited to, a flood, hurricane, storm or earthquake. The compensation level established by the bill would apply to such claims made for a period of one year from the occasion of the declaration of the catastrophic loss occurrence.
The bill was released by the Assembly Financial Institution and Insurance Committee.
Matthew S. Halpin
Public Strategies Impact L.L.C.
414 River View Plaza
Trenton, NJ 08611
NJ: ALL INSURERS AUTHORIZED OR ADMITTED TO TRANSACT BUSINESS IN NEW JERSEY, ALL LICENSED INSURANCE PRODUCERS, AND ALL LICENSED PUBLIC ADJUSTERS
The purpose of this Bulletin is to provide guidance to insurers regarding pre- and post-disaster regulatory activity, including but not limited to the issuance of bulletins and/or orders, which would likely be undertaken by the Commissioner pursuant to [his/her] emergency powers in N.J.S.A. App. A:7-1 shortly before or following a declaration of a State of Emergency by the...
We at AAPIA appreciate NAPIA’s attempt to clear up their position on fee caps, since maybe you have been as confused as we are about NAPIA’s actual position. The latest email communication from counsel Brian Goodman dated Friday March 1st, states that “My letter of Jan 2 supported the planned 12.5% fee cap….. NAPIA, like the New Jersey Association came out in support of this proposed fee cap. I do not regard a 12.5% fee cap as being too small.” However, the recent NAPIA legislative blog states quite emphatically that “we do not advocate or lobby for fee caps”. NAPIA LEGISLATIVE BLOG Setting Standards by Supporting State Statutes By Brian S. Goodman, Esq., NAPIA Counsel, PESSIN & KATZ, P.A Wednesday, February 20, 2013
We at AAPIA are understandably befuddled by NAPIA’s position. NAPIA is lobbying and advocating for fee caps in New Jersey. The recent email cited above does lobby for fee caps, and just a few weeks ago NAPIA sent a letter to Assemblyman Green in New Jersey, lobbying and advocating for him to amend his Bill in New Jersey to impose a 12.5% fee cap:
“We have carefully reviewed the position of the New Jersey Association of Public Insurance Adjusters, advocating a 12.5% fee cap, identical to the one in force in New York. This would mean that there is a statuary cap of 12.5% of any gross insurance settlement from dollar one, which works well in New York and other states. We are in complete agreement and support of this legislative amendment and wanted to get a letter to you articulating our support for the position of the New Jersey Association.” Letter to Assemblyman Green, dated January 2, 2013
This amendment was not part of the original Bill, which was drafted by Assemblyman Green in response to Superstorm Sandy issues, and was not proposed by the Department of Banking and Insurance. This was an amendment that sprang from the collective minds and pens of the NJ Association of Public Insurance Adjusters and NAPIA. This position on fee caps was presented by the Board of NJPIA with a marginal vote of the Board and was never brought to the membership of the Association for a vote. In fact, Jonathan Wilkowsky, counsel to NJPIA publicly stated at the NJPIA general membership meeting that this matter did not require the full vote of the membership, and that the Board had the authority to lobby for a 12.5% fee cap in New Jersey, which will greatly harm the consumers of New Jersey.
Response to this Bill from public adjusters has been overwhelmingly negative. Perhaps NAPIA should send a letter to the legislature withdrawing their support if they want a law that is “fair and reasonable to the profession and the consumer”, as they profess. NAPIA legislative blog. 2-20-13, (see above link).
We have been consistent in our position. The fee caps proposed by NAPIA and NJPIA will hurt the public adjusters and the consumers of New Jersey since public adjusters will not be able to help those with small claims. We appeal to you as members of NAPIA and NJPIA to contact the current Board and challenge them to defend their reasons for advocating for fee caps which will hurt their industry and the policyholders they are supposed to represent, and to instead support only laws that truly are fair and reasonable to all concerned.
Please support our efforts to defeat S 2472.
American Association of Public Insurance Adjusters
Claims Magazine is providing the following free guidelines and regulations in order to help adjusting professionals stay abreast of each state’s unique property and casualty claim-handling requirements. Each guideline features an explanation of the act to be performed, compliance timeframes for each act, and hyperlinked references to each state's insurance code. The links were compiled by compiled by Lynch & Associates, www.northlaw.com. We hope you find them useful and informative. Please note that these guidelines were updated in 2010, but occassional changes in each state's code are to be expected. These guidelines should be used as a reference only, and do not supercede each state's published regulations.
Just Looking for Each State's Deadline for Acknowledging Receipt of a Claim? Download PDF
List of State Guidelines:
By Brian S. Goodman, Esq., NAPIA Counsel, HODES, PESSIN & KATZ, P.A.
Friday, October 7, 2011
As the end of the year approaches, activity in the state legislatures is just heating up. In the coming term, many local legislators will be focusing on issues related to public adjusting. We know for a fact that bills are currently under consideration in Pennsylvania, and there is expected to be an added regulation addressed in Indiana focusing on the Unauthorized Practice of Public Adjusting. The Alabama legislature convenes in early 2012, and we are working diligently to th ensure that Alabama becomes the 45state to license public adjusters.
If any NAPIA member hears of legislative activity in their particular state, please make us aware of this as soon as possible. Often, issues come up that touch on our profession, and the sooner we know about these the better.
We are working hard with able counsel and lobbyists to protect the profession and to ensure the proper and ethical practice of public insurance adjusting. Gone are the days when public adjusters flew “under the radar;” we are now an accepted and respected player in the insurance industry and claims process. This gives all of us all the more reason to stay on top of legislative enactments and to insist that our craft is practiced in an ethical and proper manner.
I will be talking about ethics and legislative issues in greater detail at the upcoming First Party Claims Conference in Providence, Rhode Island. We hope to see many of you there.
Click here for the October issue of the Team Bishop Newsletter.
The American Association of Public Insurance Adjusters is busy getting the word out about how hiring a public insurance adjuster can add value to a policyholder’s insurance claim. AAPIA prides itself on being a professional organization representing public adjusters from all over the United States. AAPIA sponsors educational, social, and networking programs throughout the year.
Recently, Gene Veno, the President of the American Association of Public Insurance Adjusters, was interviewed about the role of a public adjuster and the value a claims professional can add to a property damage claim when that professional is working on behalf of the policyholder.
It is still not uncommon for me to hear from policyholders that they only became aware of the services a public adjuster can provide after they had a negative experience during an insurance claim and turned to a public adjuster for help. But the work of public adjusters is most valuable if people are aware of them early in the claims process. Individuals, families, condominium associations and businesses that suffer losses need to know that in most states they have the ability to hire their own adjuster to help navigate the claim process. As Veno explains in the interview, 44 states now have licensed public adjusters available to policyholders.
One of the ways AAPIA is spreading the word is by doing radio and podcast interviews to educate the public. You may recognize Merlin Law Group’s very own Sean Shaw in the blogtalk radio show Legislative Wrap up with AAPIA's Gene Veno. AAPIA also interviewed Florida public adjuster, Dick Tutwiler, of Tutwiler & Associates.
The AAPIA website provides many great resources for those who want to stay informed on issues relating to public adjusting.
In prior posts, Chip Merlin has detailed some of the work AAPIA has been involved in during the last year.
New Jersey Revises Public Adjuster Solicitation and Continuing Education Law
After Discussions, Pennsylvania House Bill Does Not Criminalize Adjuster Neglect and Incompetence
AAPIA Defends Rights of Public Insurance Adjusters in Pennsylvania Legislature
Take a listen to AAPIA’s The Value of Hiring a Public Adjuster:
- New Jersey Revises Public Adjuster Solicitation and Continuing Education Law
August 31, 2011
I don’t know exactly what is happening but it looks like Liberty Mutual is the first to take a position regarding the right to speak directly with the insured before, during, and after the loss is reported.
I reported a claim to the Liberty Mutual call center (866-788-5174) at noon today. The insured did not have the policy so I had to report it without the policy number, forcing me to reveal my interest in this new loss. I requested the policy be searched via name and address since I was without a dec page. After revealing my company name, the inside rep put me on hold , came back to the phone and said she was instructed to not speak with anyone other than the insured without verbal permission of the insured. I hesitated briefly and said I had a “Letter of Representation” that I would gladly fax to her office so I may continue reporting the loss. Again, she put me on hold and replied that her manager said “no exceptions” and she hung up on me.
Frustrated, overwhelmed, and desperate to put this behind me to free up time, I called another number in an attempt to sneak in the back door. The insured was not available to get involved. I assumed the identity of the insured (ironically, he has the same first name) and reported the loss without problems.
This is wrong!
In other matters, various carriers are interpreting the Sewer/Drain/Sump Pump endorsement to have several meanings as well as having several endorsements of the same kind within the same company.
Some carriers are using the “Loss of Power off Premises” exclusion to supersede the sump pump failure endorsement. Other are allowing the sump pump to rule over-all.
ABLE Public Adjusters, Inc.
1418 Woodview Road
Yardley, PA 19067
Public Insurance Adjusters Are the People's 'Good Guys'
By David Beasley, Sunshine State News
Click here to see how NJ Senate Bill affects public insurance adjusters.
NJ: On Monday October 18th, Assembly Bill No. 3294 and Senate Bill No. 1557 were unanimously passed by the Assembly Regulated Professions Committee.
- Four-year license term changed to two years.
- License fee $360.00 during the first year after the Bill is passed (to cover 4 years), and thereafter the fees to be set by the Department of Insurance
- Fifteen (15) hours of CE required.
- Within the first 24 hour period after a loss, no solicitation between the hours of six p.m. and eight a.m.
AAPIA supports this legislation, but is concerned about the license fees, and we will be meeting with the Department of Insurance to discuss what the fees for the new two year term will be.
A3294 / S1557 (Prieto / Egan / Cardinale / Gill) - Creates two-year license term for public adjuster licenses and establishes continuing education requirement for licensed public adjusters.
After entering this link, click on “Title 11 Insurance.”
Then, click on Chapter 1 Administration.
Then, click on “Subchapter 37 Licensing of Public Adjusters.”
The Senate has passed the Dodd-Frank financial services reform package that will have some impact on the insurance industry and add involvement by the federal government in the state-based insurance regulatory system.
The 2,300-page bill, which passed the Senate by a 60 to 39 margin yesterday, aims to address regulatory weaknesses blamed for the 2008 financial crisis. It gives regulators broad authority to rein in banks, limit risk-taking by financial firms and supervise previously unregulated trading. It also makes it easier to liquidate large, financially interconnected institutions, and it creates a new consumer protection bureau to guard against lending abuses.
The National Association of Surplus Lines Offices (NAPSLO) hailed the passage of the bill as a "big win," after several provisions were included to modernize the surplus lines industry.
Those changes would speed up and ease access to the surplus lines markets by consumers, and reduce administrative compliance issues by establishing that only the home state of the insurer can regulate multi-state transactions.
"These surplus lines reforms represent a nearly decade-long industry effort spearheaded by NAPSLO to modernize and reform surplus lines regulation. With the legislation now approved by Congress, we look to the states to implement its provisions in the way Congress intends and bring about, on a nationwide basis, the anticipated efficiencies in surplus lines regulation and tax payment mechanisms the legislation promises," NAPSLO President Marshall Kath said.
Ken A. Crerar, president of The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers, echoed those statements, adding "passage of this bill is important not only for (agents) but also for their commercial clients… Now that multi-state surplus lines placements will be subject to regulatory oversight by a single state, a substantively streamlined process will be created for commercial consumers, regulators, insurers and brokers. This change will provide for a uniform approach to regulating the surplus lines market and once signed into law, will go a long way to addressing long-time marketplace problems."
The bill also establishes a federal office of insurance (FIO), which will increase the federal government's role in addressing insurance-related issues.
David A. Sampson, president and CEO of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCIAA), said that the final version of the bill contained a number of changes that would lessen the impact of federal oversight of the state-regulated insurance system, but also said "deep concern(s)" remained over the impact of the legislation.
"It is important to note that this is still only the midpoint for financial services reform. We have a long road ahead of us as we move into the rule development phase," Sampson said. "We look forward to working with regulators to preserve a strong and stable insurance marketplace to protect home, auto and business owners."
Leigh Ann Pusey, president and CEO of the American Insurance Association (AIA), said the completed bill "largely recognizes that property and casualty insurers do not pose systemic risk," which she called "a meaningful acknowledgment for the many policyholders that rely upon our low-risk business model to provide them security in times of uncertainty."
Pusey also said the bill "takes necessary steps to prevent insurers from being lumped into many of the new 'bank-focused' provisions. This, too, is a substantial recognition of the insurance business model."
President Obama is expected to sign the bill.
Allied Insurance, based in Des Moines, Iowa, announced new changes to its commercial quoting process that it says will allow independent agents to write business insurance quicker and easier. Among the new features:
* 25 percent - 45 percent of previously asked commercial application questions have been eliminated (depending on the specific business-owners-product program);
* Elimination of up to six supplemental applications;
* Addition of clearer questions to improve underwriting efficiency and turnaround times.
Allied Insurance President W. Kim Austen said the "changes reflect direct feedback from our agents, so we felt compelled to take steps that make Allied easier to do business with."
Allied Insurance has also recently announced significant product changes with expanded coverage options and is now offering coverage enhancement endorsements for a wide range of industries and products.
With a new application process for premier business owners and business auto, independent agents will be better equipped to meet their clients' needs with superior service and coverage from Allied, the company said.
Allied operates in 34 states through a network of independent agents with regional offices in Denver, Colo.; Des Moines, Iowa; Lincoln, Neb.; Gainesville, Fla; and Sacramento, Calif. Allied has been a member of the Nationwide family of companies since 1998, and is responsible for Nationwide's independent agency system.
Regardless of the state you are licensed to work, you need to know that many new laws are being "proposed" all across the nation where the Public Insurance Adjuster is licensed. We mention this to our members so that they can be made aware of what is happening and what you can do to get involved with your profession. AAPIA is your advocate on a national level - we monitor all state legislatures and regulations as they appear and immediately review and comment on the efficacy and impact it may have on your profession.