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Insurance Companies Accused of Misguiding Claimants

Damage in Naples, Florida

In the wake of Hurricane Irma, several attorneys and public adjusters who represent insurance policyholders are alleging that insurance companies and their agents are advising policyholders not to hire attorneys and public adjusters, an action that is not permitted under state law.

“In two hours yesterday we received three reports [saying a]policyholder was told not to hire a public adjuster or an attorney,” said Nancy Dominguez, managing director of the Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters. “Insurance companies are not supposed to be telling people not to hire a public adjuster or an attorney.”

Nevertheless, policyholders are being told that doing so will delay their claim, or that the lawyers and public adjusters are “just going to take your money,” Dominguez said.

Florida state codes restrict adjusters from advising insurance policyholders not to seek the advice of an attorney or public adjuster. A public adjuster handles claims and advocates for the policyholder in appraising and negotiating an insurance claim, while a company or independent adjuster represents the interests of an insurance company.

Dominguez said insurance agents and brokers have incentives to keep the ratio of claims to policy premiums low. Agents get bonuses for having lower loss ratios, Dominguez said.

Daily Business Review, excerpt posted on SouthFloridaReporter.com, Sept.19, 2017

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