Note: This guest blog post is by Holly Soffer, Esq., A policyholder's attorney and general counsel to the American Association of Public Insurance Adjusters.
Great food, friendly people, charm and character all combine Louisiana wonderfully uniquely. What also makes Louisiana unique is its set of laws. Historically, Louisiana's law is largely based on the Napoleonic Code, instead of the English general law, like the rest of the United States The Public Adjustment Act is no exception .
Unfortunately, a great storm threatens. Louisiana right now. If you plan to work there after the storm, here's the least of what you must know about the Public Adjustment Act:
• The Act does not allow you to negotiate the statement: The definition of public adjuster does not include "negotiate for or enforce a claim" which are the words that enable you as a public adjuster to represent your clients in most states. Instead, the law defines general adaptation as: "(a) Examines, evaluates or evaluates and reports to an insured in relation to a first party claim." §22: 1
Note that the law says "report to an insured", not to the insurer. Negotiations on conciliation and direct contact with insurers to discuss and evaluate the benefits of claims have proved to be unauthorized legislation. Are these regulations always upheld? No, not consistently. The coming storm will, however, provide increased scrutiny, so pay attention and think carefully about each communication.
• You can not charge a percentage fee: The law stipulates that: “A public adjuster can charge the insured a reasonable fee. A public adjuster may not request or enter into an agreement or arrangement between an insured and a public adjuster that provides for the payment of a fee to the public adjuster that is conditional or calculated as a percentage of the amount of all receivables or receivables paid to or on assignment of an insured by the insurer and any such agreement shall be contrary to public policy and invalid . §22: 1703
In your contract you can use an hourly fee or a fixed fee for your services, but remember that such a fee must be "reasonable", which is determined on a case-by-case basis.
• Prohibition on solicitation during a loss-producing event: This provision is more common, but worth noting. Wait until the storm has passed completely, even if the weather conditions improve.
Diversity makes our country good, but the diversity of state laws can make life for a public adjuster very difficult. Get to know the law before you go.
In the bud of the blog, I leave you with a quote: “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom does not add to a fruit salad. ”—Miles Kington
Be Wise and Be Safe.
Holly K. Soffer, Esq.