The Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS) issued an order denying a petition regarding whether individuals must be licensed as adjusters or public adjusters to be appointed appraisers for an insurance appraisal. I previously wrote about this issue in Who should be appraisers for an assessment panel? NAPIA takes a stand. I also noted that an insurance industry leader agreed with my opinion Jonathon Held argues that appraisers should not be required to be licensed adjusters.
The current DFS order came after a petition for declaratory relief was filed by three groups seeking clarification on their doctrine that appraisers did not need to be licensed. In fact, not one state requires appraisers to have an adjusting or public adjusting license.
Citizens Property Insurance filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit. Citizens argued that appraisers must be licensed adjusters or public adjusters.
The Order denied the petition and citizen̵7;s motion, stating in part:
THIS CAUSE came up for consideration upon the receipt by the Department of Financial Services (“Petition”) of a petition for declaration opinion (“Petition”) from Windstorm Insurance Network, Insurance Appraisal and Umpire Associates and Property Loss Appraisal Network (“Petitioners”) , Division of Insurance Agent and Agency Services (‘Department’), on February 23, 2023. On March 21, 2023, Citizen’s Property Insurance Corporation filed a motion to intervene in petitioner’s petition for declaratory judgment.
After considering the petition and being duly notified, the Department finds as follows:
1. The Department of Financial Services has subject matter jurisdiction.
2. This denial is based on the factual allegations made in the petition. Any modification of these factual allegations could change the conclusions of this denial. None of the statements of fact are recognized by the Department as true and the petitioner’s questions are answered as purely hypothetical.
…[P]pursuant to Rule 28-102.001, Florida Administrative Code‘[a] A petition for clarification may be used only to resolve questions or doubts about how the statutes, rules, or regulations may apply to a petitioner’s particular circumstances. A declaratory statement is not the appropriate means of determining the conduct of another person.”…The questions presented by petitioners seek an explanation that would address the conduct of numerous other unlicensed individuals acting as appraisers, licensed adjusters acting as appraisers, and entities which employs either. The conduct of these third parties is not relevant to petitioners’ particular set of circumstances set forth in the petition. Moreover, the petition expressly involves the conduct of a specific individual unrelated to the petitioners and their particular circumstances.
Accordingly, the petition for declaration and motion to intervene is denied.
One odd quirk is that I have attended hundreds of insurance claims seminars taught by attorneys and claims experts on appraisal. Yet no one has ever said that the laws require an appraiser to be licensed as an adjuster or public adjuster. I hope they at the Department of Financial Services consider this fact if they intend to press charges. I would have thought someone would have at least raised the issue because no attorney I know of has ever suggested this view of the law until DFS raised the issue in an indictment.
The opinion expressed by DFS in its indictment does not appear in any book, thesis or seminar material anywhere. One would think that experts who teach this insurance subject would point out that the insurance companies and policyholders who hire unlicensed people to act as appraisers are complicit in criminal behavior if DFS’ position is correct.
The person signing the Order for DFS, Gregory Thomas, is truly a learned and experienced person who must have a passion for making insurance work. I found an article describing his appointment in 2011 as follows:
CFO Atwater also named Gregory Thomas director of the department’s agency and agency services division. Thomas most recently served as the Bureau Director of Education, Advocacy and Research in the Department’s Division of Consumer Services. He has extensive experience in the insurance industry and holds six professional designations in insurance, including Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter and Chartered Life Underwriter.
Perhaps those who practice claims and are knowledgeable about the history of adjuster licensing laws could have a frank dialogue with DFS about why the insurance claims industry has never required adjusters to have an adjuster license.
I will be talking about this issue with Steven Badger and Bob Norton at the upcoming IAUA conference on June 7-8. Unfortunately, I think it may be sold out, so those who want to check out other IAUA events later this summer.
I am constantly trying to look at things from a different point of view and put myself into some new perspectives to develop myself, grow myself and reinvent myself.