Letter to the Editor: Assault on public adjusters unfair

Jan 27, 2013

The following article was published in The Miami Herald on January 27, 2013:

Letter to the Editor:  Assault on Public Adjusters Unfair

For every story of an unscrupulous public adjuster there are likely many more stories of unfair dealings on the part of insurance carriers. This is the unfortunate reality that Jason Wolf ignores (“My View: Think twice before hiring public adjusters,” Jan. 21) as he attempts to vilify the public adjusting profession on behalf of his insurance company clients. His logic, and his cynicism, would simply lead to mutually assured destruction of both adjusters and insurers in the eyes of the public, and do little to advance the understanding of business owners as to how insurance really works, if public adjusters simply responded in kind to his irresponsible remarks.

The simple reality is that there are very good public adjusters just as there are very good insurance companies. Both operate under licenses issued by the State of Florida and are charged with treating policyholders fairly. Wolf’s unfair and overly broad assessment that public adjusters only “purport to help policyholders’ is needless, inaccurate and harmful rhetoric that has no place in the public discussion of insurance and claims settlement practices.

Likewise, there are bad public adjusters and bad insurance companies, as is the case in every other industry as well. The National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA) works diligently, through progressive continuing education of public adjusters, regular and frequent interaction with insurance regulators, and active surveillance of public adjuster activities in the marketplace, to make certain that its members are actually helping policyholders.

NAPIA, as a responsible participant in the public dialogue on claims settlements, refrains from accusing the insurance industry of low-balling claims, denying coverages that are obviously included in a policy, or operating in bad faith in the same reckless manner in which Mr. Wolf does in his broadside against the public adjuster profession. NAPIA also strenuously attacks the much larger problem (for consumers, licensed adjusters and insurance companies alike) of the unauthorized practice of public adjusting by those not trained, licensed or regulated to perform such tasks, and who prey upon unsuspecting claimants.

There are many very satisfied policyholders who have never looked back from their decision to hire a public adjuster. And there are claimants who have felt compelled to make reports to the Office of Insurance Regulation regarding some adjusters for questionable activities. The key for policyholders is to understand what a public adjuster does, assess their claim situation to see if they need the services of an adjuster, and then make certain that the adjuster they hire is appropriately licensed and operating in a professional manner. NAPIA can assist policyholders on each of those decision points, and can be reached at www.napia.com. This is certainly more productive and constructive than just lobbing reckless accusations that do nothing to help the consumer.

Ron Reitz, CPPA, President, National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters, Potomac Falls, VA