Those that work in the insurance claims process regularly are familiar with the term “independent adjuster.” It is one that many of us know and understand, and some readers of this blog may even be independent adjusters. To those outside the insurance industry, a review of the term “independent adjuster” can give a misconception as defined by Florida law. Why is it a misconception you may ask? Let’s look at the definition. Here is the statutory definition for “independent adjuster” in Florida:
An ‘independent adjuster’ means a person licensed as an all-lines adjuster who is self-appointed or appointed and employed by an independent adjusting firm or other independent adjuster, and who undertakes on behalf of an insurer to ascertain and determine the amount of any claim, loss, or damage payable under an insurance contract or undertakes to effect settlement of such claim, loss, or damage. F.S.A. §626.855. (Emphasis added).
Someone who is truly “independent” would not be undertaking on behalf of an insurer to determine the amount of loss for a claim. I had an “independent adjuster” just last week tell me during a deposition that his understanding in Florida of the term “independent adjuster” meant that he was trying to determine the amount of loss for everyone involved—the policyholder as well as the insurance carrier. Well that understanding certainly seems contrary to the Florida law definition of “independent adjuster” which says they undertake on behalf of the insurer to determine the amount of loss.
I imagine a public adjuster could as easily say they are determining the amount of loss for damages in a claim for all involved when they write an estimate, but most public adjusters I know would be proud to say they are working for the policyholder.
Now to us in the industry, we know that “independent” refers more to the fact that the “independent adjuster” is separate from the insurance carrier and adjusting a loss for the insurance carrier as an employee or independent contractor of a separate adjusting firm altogether. But to those not in the industry, the term may seem a contradiction.
Would “independent adjusters” disagree that they are hired by and working for the insurance carrier on claims to determine the amount of loss in Florida?