Special Ethics Provisions Apply in States of Emergency
With hurricane season now being only a month away, the Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS) has taken the opportunity to remind licensees of unique claims adjusting requirements that apply during states of emergency. The Governor typically will declare a “state of emergency” during a hurricane affecting Florida. Among other things, the declaration of an emergency invokes statutory provisions prohibiting a public adjuster from charging compensation in excess of ten percent of an insurance claim payment. An insured also is allowed five days in which to cancel a contract entered into with a public adjuster.
DFS also points to certain provisions of the adjusters’ code of ethics that may have particular application following a hurricane. DFS calls licensees’ attention to the following statements:
- The work of adjusting insurance claims engages the public trust. An adjuster shall put the duty for fair and honest treatment of the claimant above the adjuster’s own interests in every instance.
- An adjuster shall not attempt to negotiate with or obtain any statement from a claimant or witness at a time that the claimant or witness is, or would reasonably be expected to be, in shock or serious mental or emotional distress as a result of physical, mental, or emotional trauma associated with a loss.
- An adjuster shall not directly or indirectly refer or steer any claimant needing repairs or other services in connection with a loss to any person with whom the adjuster has an undisclosed financial interest.
- A public adjuster shall not prevent, or attempt to dissuade or prevent, an insured or claimant from speaking privately with the insurer, company employee adjuster, independent adjuster, attorney, or any other person, regarding the settlement of the claim.
- A public adjuster shall not enter into a contract or accept a power of attorney which vests in the public adjuster the effective authority to choose the persons who shall perform repair work.