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  • January 31, 2017

    For carriers as well as consumers, a Licensed Public Adjuster can be an invaluable resource when evaluating property losses from storms and other unforeseen incidents.  Yes, there are Company Adjusters who, as insurance company employees, dedicate themselves solely to the rapid settlement of property claims.  And no doubt, many Americans can recount the memorable slogans and jingles that have effectively underscored this message while shaping insurance company brands.  Given that context, I would like to review three such slogans for the purposes of this article.

    "Like a Good Neighbor State Farm is there" ... "You are in Good Hands with Allstate" ... "Nationwide is On Your Side!" ...  All are catchy jingles designed to reassure the public these companies will do everything possible to process claims in a timely manner should a home, auto or business loss occur.

    Even with the best of intentions, however, what we read and hear in marketing campaigns does not necessarily translate into superior service.  For the record, I have no doubt the three companies mentioned have excellent customer service records with their policyholders. This article is not meant in any way to disparage the services of insurance companies.  On the contrary, this is an attempt to inform the industry that a Licensed Public Adjuster can be of immense value when working efficiently and effectively with the Company Adjuster to negotiate claims and settlements to cover property loss.

    The conundrum faced by insurance industry executives demands that they provide the best insurance coverage at the best premium with the hope a claim is never brought against the policy.  The premium that's paid for home, auto and business coverage is called "insurance."  As policyholders, we all expect to have our assets covered in the event of a property loss.  Naively, we often expect coverage to be 100%, but that is invariably mitigated by limits on insurance coverage and deductibles, not to mention what is and is not covered.

    When an individual purchases a home, one of the first requirements asked of the homeowner by the lending institution is, “Do you have a hazard insurance policy?”  Such insurance policies offer peace of mind to both lender and homeowner.

    Public Adjusters only handle first party property claims for policyholders. This article addresses the three types of property and casualty claims adjusters:

    1. Company Insurance Adjusters are Insurance Company employees who work on behalf of their respective employers and policyholders to resolve claims in a most efficient manner.
    2. Independent Adjusters are outside consultants brought in to represent the interests of the Insurance Company when asked to evaluate specific property losses.
    3. Public Adjusters are the only licensed professionals in the "adjuster industry" who work exclusively for policyholders in negotiating first party claims. 
     
    The policyholder will have many issues to address with their insurance company, including what is and is not a covered loss.  Policyholders will need to immediately review precise coverage with their insurance company adjuster to determine all aspects of their policy. This is the first step in the claims process once the policyholder is safe from harm and has surveyed their property damage(s).

    In virtually all cases, there will be limits and deductibles.  In addition, there are more serious concerns which will need to be analyzed to make certain each property loss is adequately assessed so that prized possessions can be restored to pre-occurrence condition.

    Most Insurance Company Adjusters do a very reputable job in helping policyholders during the initial phase of one's property loss.  However, there are many known cases where homeowners were less than satisfied with the outcome of their claim settlement. (Ref. "Delay, Deny, Defend" authored by Distinguished Law Professor, Jay Feinman, Rutgers School of Law), which asserts that policyholders would do well in contacting a Public Adjuster firm to review the damage to their property.

    Just recently, The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (TDCI) announced that more than $5.1 million dollars was returned to policyholders in Tennessee in 2016. This restitution was the result of TDCI Insurance Investigators mediating between insurance companies and policyholders to get denied claims overturned and paid.  Says TDCI Assistant Commissioner, Michael Humphreys, "We encourage Tennesseans to reach out to us with questions or concerns regarding insurance products and services.”  (Full article appeared in Winchester Herald Chronicle 01/17/17.)

    Could the costly mediation between insurers and regulators in Tennessee have been avoided if policyholders had retained the professional services of Public Adjusters to help in preparing the necessary documents when initially submitting claim information? 

    Public Adjusters are there to assist homeowners through the very difficult process of filing and negotiating a claim settlement.

    The "Value of a Public Adjuster" is a phrase developed many years back with one goal in mind ... To help homeowners/property owners and insurance industry insiders realize there is help available right in their own community when they experience a property loss. Public Adjusters are local experts who can help get homes and prized possessions back to full RCV, Replacement Cost Value. 

    Insurance Company Adjusters do work successfully with Public Adjusters in negotiating claims.  That said, if more insurance companies worked with public adjusters, could policyholders be better served?  That is a question that needs to be asked before a policyholder attempts to handle his/her own claim. 

    Public Adjusters are licensed in 45 states, and are allowed to work in Alabama, Wisconsin, and South Dakota, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.  Only Arkansas and Alaska restrict the practice of public adjusting. 

    The Department of Insurance in respective states oversees the license of a Public Adjuster, regulating all aspects of the rules and regulations necessary to work as a Public Adjuster.  As stated previously in this article, the Department also oversees Insurance Companies while serving as advocates for policyholders.

    Ideally, a policyholder would never experience a property loss and an Insurance Company would never have to cover a claim. Realistically, however, when an occurrence happens, wouldn’t it be great to have a Company Insurance Adjuster and a Public Adjuster working together from the onset to assist policyholders and avoid what so many consumers in Tennessee had to endure?

  • January 3, 2017
    Over ($4,000.00) Four Thousand Dollars in prizes to be awarded!
     
    AAPIA Campaign for Public Adjusters Annual Campaign begins January 2017!
     
    To enter this year's contest you must have a valid public adjuster's license and be in Good Standing with your local Department of Insurance.
     
    The rules are simple, become a member or renew your current membership for another year and you will be automatically entered to win one of the many prizes below.
     
    If you have joined within the last 90 days of 2016 your name will also be entered to win.
     

    Rules & Prizes are as follows:

    Prizes:
    Winners will be selected randomly at a Quarterly AAPIA Board Meeting to win one of these three valuable prizes!!

    1. $500.00 Gift card and 5-year membership - value of $1,750.00
       
    2. $250.00 Gift card and 3-year membership - value of $1,000.00
       
    3. $125.00 gift card and 1 year membership - value of $375.00

    Rules:

    ☆ Total new members for campaign is 500 public adjusters

    ☆ Members can only qualify by paying full annual membership fee not monthly fee option

    ☆ If AAPIA does not reach 500 new members, AAPIA will offer a different campaign to all new members and existing members, or one of 3 other awards selected randomly:

    1. Amex Gift card valued at $250.00
       
    2. Amex Gift card valued at $100.00
       
    3. Amex Gift card valued at $50.00

    For complete contest rules please see our website

     

    Join AAPIA today by clicking on this link: http://www.aapia.org/join

     
    We have represented your industry successfully in every state, advocating on behalf of Policyholders and Public Adjusters and have an excellent reputation with Insurance Commissioners nationally and attend The National Association of Insurance Commissioner conferences.
     
    Our many accomplishments can be viewed on our state of the art website www.aapia.org  where timely tweets and blogs are posted daily on LinkedIn and Facebook.
     
    In addition to our social media sites we offer audio podcasts to keep you informed on national happenings.
     
    Finally, if you need a Continuing Education Course, we have that too, on our website 24/7 daily.
     

     http://www.webce.com/aapia  

    There you have it, many reasons to join AAPIA-- won't you consider joining today!

    We look forward to serving you in the New Year,

    Best in life always,
    Gene
    Gene G. Veno, President/Secretary
    American Association of Public Insurance Adjusters
    1050 Connecticut Avenue N.W.
    Washington D.C. 20036 

  • December 5, 2016
    Public Adjusters, we ask you to take just a few minutes of your busy day to view all that the American Association of Public Adjusters has been doing for Public Adjusters on a national level - not only in 2016, but in previous years.

    We are honored to serve as your industry's advocate, appearing at state houses to testify on your behalf and with regulators as we are advocates for policyholders to ensure they have the right to retain a public adjuster professional when such a need occurs.

    Please visit our website at www.aapia.org and peruse the many tabs that will clearly demonstrate our successes and accomplishments for the public adjusting industry. You can Join Today by selecting this link: Join AAPIA

    Whether we were opposing unlicensed individuals attempting to take clients from you or one of your colleagues in Maryland when an individual contracting company was distributing misinformation; (view)  or a certain insurance company in Florida notifying a policyholder that their policy does not grant them the privilege to retain a public adjuster; or opposing challenges in other states trying to limit what a public adjuster can and cannot do for their clients, these are just a few of the legislative challenges we successfully addressed this year.

    As we begin a new legislative season we want you to know that we maintain a daily analysis of legislation in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, each day reviewing and responding to legislators and regulators advocating for the license of a public adjuster and the rights of consumers.

    Our membership is what allows us to continue our work on behalf of all public adjusters those who have joined and those who have yet to experience our benefits and services. Our testimonials http://www.aapia.org/testimonials will share a glimpse of our members satisfaction with our work.

    AAPIA also offers Online Continuing Education Classes that are of a high quality and at a reasonable price.

    Please consider becoming a member today if you have yet to join,

    With your membership, we can do so much more in the coming year. 

  • November 7, 2016

    by Jill Henniger Bowman, Stockham Law Group P.A.

    Diaz v. Florida Peninsula was ground breaking as the first appellate decision that plainly permits a homeowner to dispute the scope of repairs before they are completed through Managed Repair.  Insurers likely anticipating the decision took note; and even before the decision was made started putting appraisal provisions back into homeowner’s policies to avoid pre-repair lawsuits over scope.  In fact, some policies only permit an appraisal demand if the Insurer exercises its repair option. 

    So, was Diaz a short-lived victory?  Does it now force homeowners who want to challenge the scope of repairs to dig into their pockets to pay for an appraiser and potentially share the costs of an umpire?  Perhaps, but the decision remains valuable.  Diaz may have opened the door to other kinds of pre-repair challenges that will give homeowners a fighting chance take back control over their own home repairs and keep out the Insurer for bad behavior or other misconduct or negligence (i.e. breach and anticipatory breach) where the conduct predates the exercise of the option.  

    In one case featured on WINKTV news in Ft. Myers, the unscrupulous conduct of the Insurer and repairer got the attention of Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto, chair of the Senate banking and insurance committee. http://www.winknews.com/2016/10/04/homeowner-sues-peoples-trust-insuranc.... The best part was the Insurer’s response to why my homeowner client was repeatedly asked to sign a work authorization that said he was agreeing that the repairers’ scope of work would return his home to its pre-loss condition.  The problem: no scope had even been provided.  Take a look.

    Remember at least one Florida Court, in the context of auto insurance, has recognized there are absolutely circumstances that justify the Insured’s refusal to honor the insurer’s exercise of its “option”.  Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. Green, 220 So. 2d 29 (Fla. 1st DCA 1969).  See, Justified Refusal to Honor the Insurer’s Decision to Repair, by Jill Henniger Bowman. http://www.aapia.org/node/562.   

    Exactly which “circumstances” justify refusal remains an open question.  Stay tuned on that.

    And, then there is always fighting the old fashioned way – after a botched repair job. http://www.abcactionnews.com/money/consumer/taking-action-for-you/it-is-.... In other words, filing suit like the Morales family in Tampa did after their “managed repair” went wrong.  Most importantly, the growing problem with Managed Repair is getting the attention of the right people – like Senator Benacquisto.  This is a critical first step toward putting homeowners back in charge their own home repairs.  Refuse to accept the status quo and let the chips fall where they may.  Managed Repair must go along with abusive assignment of benefits to right the ship for Florida homeowners.

  • October 5, 2016
    AAPIA BLOG:
    OPTION TO REPAIR

    THE BUSINESS OF INSURANCE?
    OR
    THE ART OF WAR?
     

    By Jill Henniger Bowman
    Stockham Law Group P.A.  

        Florida's Homeowner Property Insurers are becoming very protective of their Managed Repair programs and stand ready to issue denials as a way to strong arm reluctant homeowners. This seems especially true when Insurers use affiliate repairers or have a financial interest in the "Managed Repair Management Company" which finds the contractors who will take cut-rates to do the work.  Indeed, Insurers' insistence on forcing Managed Repair down the homeowners' throat has risen to a whole new level of absurdity that may bespeak a more nefarious motive.

        Take John for instance.  John had a fire.  John wanted to use a contractor he knew and trusted to do the work, so that he did not have to take time off work to oversee the construction.  For weeks, John argued with the Insurer and even offered to take the amount the Insurer's estimate showed would be paid to the Managed Repair contractor. He even offered to let the Insurer pay his contractor directly.  Still, the Insurer insisted that John use one of their Managed Repair contractors - Why?  

       Well, it's possible that the Insurer has assigned its Option to Repair to the "Managed Repair Management Company" and contractually obligated itself to place a certain percentage of claims with those contractors.  Ironic - right - given all of whining Insurers' have been doing about homeowners assigning their claims to contractors. See Homeowners - Hostages in a Hostile Claims Environment.  Can Insurers still call it an "Option" to repair then?

       But, there is another possible explanation for why the Insurer dug-in its heels when John's request would not have cost it one dime more than paying the Managed Repair contractor. What this humble advocate is seeing that may explain John's plight is a seedier underbelly of the "hassle-free" alternative Insurers are trying to misleadingly hock.  John's real problem may be  - WAIT-FOR-IT - he had the nerve to hire an advocate.  Would the Insurer have paid or allowed John to use his own contractor otherwise?  The answer may be yes!

       Notably, at least one Florida Insurer, routinely offers to pay homeowners unhappy with being forced into Managed Repair the inferior amount it planned to pay the Managed Repair contractor in exchange for a release - of course - coupled with a promise to report the naughty homeowner to 'underwriting'.  While others, seem to suddenly invoke the Option to repair when an advocate arrives on the scene. Yes, it's happening. Managed Repair is now being used to punish homeowners for getting help with their claim.

       Certainly that would explain the absurdity of the Insurer's response to John.

      This is wrong!  Let's be crystal clear - Managed Repair is not about protecting homeowners.  And, Managed Repair is not about fighting fraud.  At bottom, Managed Repair, however it began, is now a weapon of war being wielded against homeowners who dare to get help to fight for what is owed under their policies.  Talk about public harm. This takes the cake.  

      Homeowners' rights to insure, protect and repair their own homes must be restored.  Homeowners must begin to reject Insurers using Managed Repair programs which highjack their claims and usurp their sacred right to be the gatekeepers in their own homes.  It is time to take the "Option to Repair" out of Florida property insurance policies.