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Florida Supreme Court Ruling Declared a 'Major Win' for Consumers

State: 
FL

Florida Supreme Court Ruling Declared a 'Major Win' for Consumers  
Florida Association of Public Adjusters applauds ruling declaring 48-hour ban unconstitutional

TALLAHASSEE- The Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (FAPIA) today applauded the Florida Supreme Court ruling that declared unconstitutional the state law banning public insurance adjusters from soliciting policyholders 48 hours after a damaging event - calling it a victory for consumers throughout Florida.

"FAPIA has always been committed to working with the Legislature, the Cabinet and state insurance officials to promote policies and legislation that protect consumers," said FAPIA President Harvey Wolfman. "On behalf of FAPIA and the policyholders we serve, I am grateful that the Supreme Court ruled in our favor, agreeing with our position that the ban on solicitation is a violation of public adjusters' free speech rights - and more importantly, an unfair rule that put policyholders at a disadvantage. This is a victory for consumers in Florida."

Today's ruling marks the end of a lengthy court battle, which began in 2008 when the Legislature approved the ban which was to be implemented and enforced by the Florida Department of Financial Services. The state law bars public adjusters from initiating contact directly or indirectly with policyholders during the first 48 hours after an event such as a hurricane, tornado or sinkhole that triggers a claim.

An Oviedo-based public adjuster sued the state Department of Financial Services, maintaining that the first 48 hours after a damaging event are the most critical for a policyholder because it is the window when damage photos, paperwork and other important actions must be taken to protect evidence and make sure that the policy holder complies with all policy conditions.

Public adjusters handle the preparation, presentation and adjustment of a policyholder's claim - and are the only insuranceprofessional that prepares comprehensive building damage estimates and personal property inventories on behalf of policyholders. Immediately after a damaging event, the Public Adjuster provides immediate claims handling assistance to the insured, helping the policyholder fulfill all obligations placed upon them by the insurance policy conditions.

"FAPIA and its nearly 400 member public adjusters are committed to helping policyholders receive full and fair compensation following damage to their property," said Wolfman. "Thanks to this ruling, we can help more policyholders in those critical first hours when they need it most."

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who made this victory for insured Floridians possible.  FAPIA member Fred Kortum, Mark Boardman, all of the attorneys who represented this case, particularly  Wilbur Brewton who successfully argued the case in front of the Supreme Court.  We would also like to thank all of those FAPIA members who went above and beyond when asked, to help fund this lawsuit.  Without all of you, this victory would not have been possible.
 
IMPORTANT NOTICE TO PUBLIC ADJUSTERS - The state has 15 days from the date of this ruling to request a re-hearing from the Supreme Court.  During that time, the solicitation ban is STILL IN EFFECT.  We will keep you informed as soon as the stay is lifted.  Until that time, please remember to continue to observe the 48 hour soliciation ban.