Handling claims against your homeowner's insurance company for damage to your home, due to sinkhole flood, fire, or storm is difficult. In the State of Florida, public adjusters serve a vital role in assisting policy holders with their claims. By definition, a public adjuster is an insurance claims adjuster who advocates for the policyholder in appraising and negotiating a claimant's insurance claim. Aside from attorneys and the broker of record, public adjusters licensed by state departments of insurance are the only type of claims adjuster that can legally represent the rights of an insured during an insurance claim process.
Recently, a new law was enacted in an effort to limit the public adjuster’s ability to offer their services. Florida Statutes 626.854(6) prohibited all public adjuster initiated contact with potential claimants during a forty-eight hour period following a claim-producing event. Fearful of the limiting effect and constitutional concerns a lawsuit was filed (see the case of Atwater v. Kortum, So.3d, 37 FLW S469 Fla. 7-5-2012).
In Atwater v. Kortum, the Supreme Court affirmed the First District Court of Appeals ruling and held Fla. Stat. 626.854(6) was an unconstitutional restriction on commercial speech because it was not narrowly tailored to serve the State’s interests in ensuring ethical conduct by public adjusters and protecting homeowners. With this ruling the limiting effect of Fla. Stat. 626.854 has been overruled and public adjusters will be able to continue to offer immediate service to homeowners in need.