The Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS) issued an Order dismissing a petition on whether individuals must be licensed as adjusters or public adjusters to be named appraisers to an insurance appraisal. I previously wrote about this issue in Who Should Be Appraisers to an Appraisal Panel? NAPIA Takes a Stand. I also noted an insurance industry leader agreed with my view in Jonathon Held Argues That Appraisers Should Not Have To Be Licensed Adjusters.
The current DFS Order came after a petition for declaratory relief was filed by three groups seeking clarification about their teaching that appraisers did not have to be licensed. Indeed, not one state requires appraisers to hold an adjuster or public adjuster license.
Citizens Property Insurance filed a motion to intervene in the action. Citizens argued that appraisers have to be licensed adjusters or public adjusters.
The Order dismissed the petition and Citizens motion, stating in part:
THIS CAUSE came on for consideration upon receipt of a Petition for Declaratory Statement Before the Department of Financial Services (‘Petition’) from Windstorm Insurance Network, the Insurance Appraisal and Umpire Associates, and the Property Loss Appraisal Network (‘Petitioners’), received by the Department of Financial Services, 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 Petitioners’ Petition for Declaratory Statement.
Upon consideration of the Petition, and being duly advised, the Department finds as follows:
1. The Department of Financial Services has jurisdiction over the subject matter.
2. This denial is premised upon the assertions of fact set forth in the Petition. Any modification to those assertions of fact could alter the conclusions in this denial. None of the assertions of fact are admitted by the Department as being true and Petitioner’s questions are being answered as purely hypothetical.
[P]ursuant to Rule 28-102.001, Florida Administrative Code, ‘[a] petition for declaratory statement may be used only to resolve questions or doubts as to how the statutes, rules, or orders may apply to a petitioner’s particular circumstances. A declaratory statement is not the appropriate means for determining the conduct of another person.’…The questions posed by Petitioners seek a declaration that would address the conduct of many other unlicensed individuals working as appraisers, licensed adjusters acting as appraisers, and entities that employ either. The conduct of those third parties is not relevant to Petitioners’ particular set of circumstances set forth in the Petition. Moreover, the Petition expressly implicates the conduct of a specific individual not related to Petitioners and their particular circumstances.
Accordingly, the Petition for Declaratory Statement and Motion to Intervene are DENIED.
One strange quirk is that I have attended hundreds of insurance claims seminars taught by attorneys and claims experts about appraisal. Yet, nobody has ever stated that the laws require an appraiser to be licensed as an adjuster or public adjuster. I would hope those at the Department of Financial Services consider this fact if they intend to push forward with prosecutions. I would have thought somebody would have at least raised the issue because no lawyer I know has ever hinted at this view of the law until the DFS raised the issue in a prosecution.
The view expressed by the DFS in its prosecution is not stated in any book, treatise, or seminar material anywhere. You would think experts teaching this subject of insurance would be pointing out that the insurers and policyholders engaging non-licensed people to act as appraisers are aiding and abetting in criminal conduct if the DFS position is correct.
The person signing off on the Order for the DFS, Gregory Thomas, is certainly a learned and experienced person who must have a passion for seeing insurance work. I found an article describing his appointment in 2011 as follows:
CFO Atwater also appointed Gregory Thomas as the Director of the Department’s Division of Agent and Agency Services. Mr. Thomas most recently served as the Bureau Chief 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 practicing claims and having knowledge of the history of licensing laws for adjusters can have a frank dialogue with the DFS about why the insurance claims industry has never required appraisers to hold an adjuster’s 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 wishing to check out other IAUA events later this summer.
Thought For The Day
I’m constantly trying to look at things from a different view and to put myself into some new perspectives to evolve myself, grow myself, and reinvent myself.