As a policyholder attorney in Florida, I often get asked whether it is legal for contractors to negotiate insurance claims on behalf of property owners. The answer to this question is not straightforward, as it depends on the specific activities being performed by the contractor.
In Florida, public adjusting activities – which include negotiating or settling insurance claims on behalf of a property owner for a fee or other compensation – are strictly regulated by the state. Public adjusters must hold a license issued by the Florida Department of Financial Services, and are subject to a range of regulations and requirements designed to protect consumers.
While contractors are not generally licensed as public adjusters, some may offer services that involve assisting property owners with the preparation and documentation of insurance claims. This may include providing estimates for repairs or replacement, identifying damage, and coordinating with the insurance company. However, it is important to note that these activities do not include negotiating the claim with the insurance company.
Contractors who engage in public adjusting activities without a license may be subject to fines or other penalties. Additionally, property owners who allow an unlicensed contractor to negotiate their insurance claim may be at risk of losing their coverage or facing other legal consequences.
As a policyholder attorney, my advice to property owners is to be cautious when hiring a contractor to assist with an insurance claim. While contractors may be able to provide valuable assistance in preparing and documenting the claim, they should not be involved in negotiating or settling the claim with the insurance company.
If you are considering hiring a contractor to assist with your insurance claim, it is important to verify their license and qualifications, and to be clear about the scope of their services. You may also wish to consult with legal counsel or a licensed public adjuster to ensure that your rights and interests are protected during the insurance claims process.
In summary, while contractors may be able to provide valuable assistance in preparing and documenting insurance claims, it is not legal for them to negotiate or settle claims on behalf of property owners in Florida. Property owners should exercise caution when hiring a contractor to ensure that they are qualified, licensed, and acting ethically, and may wish to consult with legal counsel or a licensed public adjuster to protect their interests.