• Florida Public Adjusters Concerned With Proposed Rules; Administrative Hearing Scheduled
  • September 22, 2014
  • Law Firm: Colodny Fass P.A. - Fort Lauderdale Office
  • The Florida Division of Insurance Agent and Agency Services ("Division") held a Rule Hearing today, September 16, 2014, on proposed changes to Rule 69B-220.051, entitled "Conduct of Public Adjusters," and Rule 69B-220.201, "Ethical Requirements."

    The proposed amendments would incorporate legislative changes to Part VI of Chapter 626, F.S., and clarify responsibilities and requirements of public adjusters and public adjuster apprentices. They would also define the terms "adjusting services" and "public adjuster apprentice," specify the terms and conditions of public adjuster contracts, require a license number on advertisements, prescribe practices for fair dealing between public adjusters and claimants, update the code of ethics for all adjusters, and delete provisions that reiterate the law.

    Speaking at today's Hearing, insurance industry representatives expressed several concerns about the proposed Rules, touching on issues related to referral fees and solicitations by public adjusters.

    Also present, public adjuster representatives stated that the proposed Rules restrict their ability to solicit business, adding that the changes are too broad in scope. They reminded that the act of solicitation can not be regulated, inasmuch as commercial free speech is not prohibited.

    Both the insurance industry and public adjuster representatives suggested they would be willing to discuss compromise language.

    The record will be kept open for written comments until the close of business on Tuesday, September 23, 2014.

    Meanwhile, the proposed changes reviewed today are the subject of a Rule challenge pending before the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings ("DOAH") filed by the Florida Association of Public Adjusters on September 11, 2014 disputing the Division's authority to promulgate the proposed Rules.

    The petition states that various aspects of both proposed Rules--including definitions, various requirements and the deletion of certain language--are "arbitrary," "capricious" and/or "vague." Notably, the Petition alleges that certain aspects of the Rules constitute an invalid exercise of legislative authority by the Division.

    A hearing in the case has been scheduled for September 30 and October 1, 2014, at 9:00 a.m. in Tallahassee.

    Final action by the Division on the Rules will be stayed until the DOAH rules on the challenge or the challenge is withdrawn.