All too often, my office receives calls from consumers with a familiar story of “this nice person knocked on my door and promised me I could get a free roof …and I got a gift card for just letting them on my roof!” And then the consumer goes on to talk about how they regret the decision, they didn’t know what they signed, and are caught in either a lawsuit they don’t want to be in or at odds with their insurance company for reasons they don’t understand. This pattern and practice happens over and over again and the Florida Legislature this past session decided in Senate Bill 76 and Senate Bill 1598 to put up some guardrails around what I call “The Knock on the Door.”
For starters, Senate Bill 1598 says (with the bill’s line numbers noted):
269 (15) A licensed contractor under part I of chapter 489, or
270 a subcontractor of such licensee, may not advertise, solicit,
271 offer to handle, handle, or perform public adjuster services as
272 provided in s. 626.854(1) adjust a claim on behalf of an insured
273 unless licensed and compliant as a public adjuster under this
286 (19) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, no
287 person, except an attorney at law or a licensed public adjuster,
288 may for money, commission, or any other thing of value, directly
289 or indirectly:
290 (a) Prepare, complete, or file an insurance claim for
291 insured or a third-party claimant;
292 (b) Act on behalf of or aid an insured or a third-party
293 claimant in negotiating for or effecting the settlement of a
294 claim for loss or damage covered by an insurance contract;
295 (c) Offer to initiate or negotiate a claim on behalf of an
297 (d) Advertise services that require a license for
298 employment as a public adjuster; or
299 (e) Solicit, investigate, or adjust a claim on behalf of
300 a public adjuster, an insured, or a third-party claimant.
301 (20) The department may take administrative actions and
302 impose fines against any persons performing claims adjusting,
303 soliciting, or any other services described in this section
304 without the licensure….
In addition, the 44 page Senate Bill 76 has similar and stronger language and adds that a contractor or public adjuster may receive up to a $10,000 fine for each violation of the solicitation provisions of the new law. The bill is specific to Chapter 489 dealing with contractors overseen by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) and Chapter 626 dealing with public adjusters overseen by the Department of Financial Services (DFS). Neither Senate Bill 76 nor Senate Bill 1598 have been presented to the Governor as of this writing.
The fact that solicitation prohibition language is in two bills reminds me of the old adage, “Anything worth saying is worth repeating!” We applaud CFO Patronis and his team for championing these consumer safeguards and will await further instruction from DFS and DBPR on how they plan to enforce these new laws when, we hope, the Governor signs both bills. In the meantime, I am suggesting that each of you carefully review these two bills for your thorough understanding and refer those that call you with the familiar stories about “the knock on the door” to the appropriate regulatory authority. I am happy to volunteer my time to help consumers too, who are struggling with the unintended consequences of the familiar knock.
Next up is lots of relevant stories and good information for your reading pleasure, including a real life story of homeowner fraud where the alleged scammers are arrested. Remember, I’m a phone call or email away. Have a great week!