Florida Insurers Face Legal Challenges for Employing Unlicensed Adjusters After Hurricane Irma (Insurance Journal)

Florida Insurers Face Legal Challenges for Employing Unlicensed Adjusters After Hurricane Irma

  Thursday, April 25th, 2024 Source: Insurance Journal

Two recent lawsuits in South Florida have put a spotlight on the practices of major insurance carriers post-storm, particularly concerning the use of unlicensed claims adjusters. The Miami condominium association, Samari Lakes East, led one such case against Heritage Property & Casualty Insurance Co. after Hurricane Irma. This lawsuit, which culminated in an $18 million judgment against Heritage, accused the company of handling nearly 14% of around 35,000 claims with unlicensed adjusters. Heritage has since revised its adjuster vetting process.

In a separate case, the owners of a $95 million mansion in Miami Beach sued American Home Assurance, alleging the use of underqualified adjusters overloaded with work, leading to inadequate assessments of storm damage. Although a Miami jury rejected the bad faith accusation against American Home Assurance, they did find the insurer in violation of the state’s Unfair Claim Settlement Practices Act, awarding only the interest on additional living expenses incurred by the homeowners.

The use of unlicensed adjusters is not only a violation of trust for policyholders but also against Florida regulations, which allow only for licensed adjusters or, in emergencies, out-of-state adjusters who have applied through proper channels. This practice raises serious concerns about the integrity of claims handling and the potential financial and emotional impact on affected homeowners.

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