A policyholder is entitled to hire a public adjuster to represent their interests after a natural disaster causes property damage. A public adjuster should be certified, licensed, bonded, and adequately trained to serve as your exclusive representative for the insurance claim. Unfortunately, many scams exist to cheat responsible insurance policyholders out of their money. One such tactic is the unauthorized practice of public adjusting (UPPA), a serious problem that harms insurance consumers. The unauthorized practice of public adjusting is what it sounds like – it occurs when someone other than a licensed claims adjuster works with a consumer to settle a property insurance claim. UPPA often includes fraud, with one or more parties taking advantage of the insured when they are vulnerable. In fact, the Texas House passed an expanded prohibition against UPPA in its most recent legislative session via HB2103. The law will go into effect on September 1, 2019.
Official public adjuster licensing is accepted in almost every state and even recognized in Model Legislation of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Public adjusters should have no affiliation with an insurance company and work solely for the benefit of the insured on an independent basis. This prevents any conflict of interest, which can occur when an adjuster tries to negotiate on behalf of both sides. Adjusters must pick a side and advocate for that side only.
Unlicensed or unauthorized contractors and claims adjusters pretend to have the authority to handle a property claim, but they do not. Typical actors who attempt to practice unlicensed adjusting include accountants, restoration companies, contractors, roofers, and other tradesmen. There are higher rates of UPPA in places prone to frequent natural disasters, such as Texas and Louisiana.
If a contractor is not a licensed public adjuster, he or she cannot:
- Investigate, appraise, evaluate, or advocate for the claimant in adjusting a claim
- Prepare the insurance claim for a claimant
- Negotiate the claim with the insurer on the claimant’s behalf
- Review and/or advise the claimant about the terms of their policy coverage
- Advertise that they can serve as a claims adjuster
Insurance Recovery Lawyers
Whether you live in Texas or elsewhere in the nation, our Texas-based insurance recovery lawyers will examine your claim and advise you on the best way to proceed. Put our experience and national reputation to work for you. Contact us today to speak with an experienced insurance lawyer.