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'Ted' Theodore Lewis Whidden

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     Exposing Fraud and Deception to protect the public good.

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All adjusters, whether company, independent, or public, have significant ethical obligations in Florida. Indeed, these adjusters even have an obligation to turn each other into the Department of Financial Services. The failure to do so is, by itself, a breach of the adjuster’s ethical obligations:

69B-220.201. Ethical Requirements.

(Rule 3g) An adjuster shall promptly report to the Department any conduct by any licensed insurance representative of this state which violates any provision of the Insurance Code or Department rule or order.

 

 

Here are the ethical requirements of adjusters in Florida:

69B-220.201. Ethical Requirements.

(1) Definitions. The following definitions shall apply for purposes of this rule:

(a) “Adjuster,“ when used without further specification, includes all types and classes of insurance adjusters, (company, independent, and public), subject to Chapter 626, Florida Statutes, regardless of whether resident or nonresident, and whether permanent, temporary, or emergency licensees.

(b) “Client“ includes both clients and potential clients; and means any person who consults with or hires an adjuster to provide adjusting services.

(c) “Department“ means the Florida Department of Financial Services.

(d) “Person“ includes natural persons and legal entities.

(2) Violation.

(a) Violation of any provision of this rule shall constitute grounds for administrative action against the licensee.

(b) A breach of any provision of this rule constitutes an unfair claims settlement practice.

(3) Code of Ethics. The work of adjusting insurance claims engages the public trust. An adjuster shall put the duty for fair and honest treatment of the claimant above the adjuster's own interests in every instance. The following are standards of conduct that define ethical behavior, and shall constitute a code of ethics that shall be binding on all adjusters:

(a) An adjuster shall: not directly or indirectly refer or steer any claimant needing repairs or other services in connection with a loss to any person with whom the adjuster has an undisclosed financial interest, or who will or is reasonably anticipated to provide the adjuster any direct or indirect compensation for the referral or for any resulting business.

(b) An adjuster shall treat all claimants equally.

1. An adjuster shall not provide favored treatment to any claimant.

2. An adjuster shall adjust all claims strictly in accordance with the insurance contract.

(c) An adjuster shall not approach investigations, adjustments, and settlements in a manner prejudicial to the in-sured.

(d) An adjuster shall make truthful and unbiased reports of the facts after making a complete investigation.

(e) An adjuster shall handle every adjustment and settlement with honesty and integrity, and allow a fair adjustment or settlement to all parties without any remuneration to himself except that to which he is legally entitled.

(f) An adjuster, upon undertaking the handling of a claim, shall act with dispatch and due diligence in achieving a proper disposition of the claim.

(g) An adjuster shall promptly report to the Department any conduct by any licensed insurance representative of this state which violates any provision of the Insurance Code or Department rule or order.

(h) An adjuster shall exercise extraordinary care when dealing with elderly clients to assure that they are not disadvantaged in their claims transactions by failing memory or impaired cognitive processes.

(i) An adjuster shall not negotiate or effect settlement directly or indirectly with any third-party claimant represented by an attorney, if the adjuster has knowledge of such representation, except with the consent of the attorney. For purposes of this subsection, the term “third-party claimant“ does not include the insured or the insured's resident relatives.

(j) An adjuster is permitted to interview any witness, or prospective witness, without the consent of opposing counsel or party. In doing so, however, the adjuster shall scrupulously avoid any suggestion calculated to induce a witness to suppress or deviate from the truth, or in any degree affect the witness's appearance or testimony during deposition or at the trial. If any witness making or giving a signed or recorded statement so requests, the witness shall be given a copy of the statement.

(k) An adjuster shall not advise a claimant to refrain from seeking legal advice, nor advise against the retention of counsel to protect the claimant's interest.

(l) An adjuster shall not attempt to negotiate with or obtain any statement from a claimant or witness at a time that the claimant or witness is, or would reasonably be expected to be, in shock or serious mental or emotional distress as a result of physical, mental, or emotional trauma associated with a loss. The adjuster shall not conclude a set-tlement when the settlement would be disadvantageous to, or to the detriment of, a claimant who is in the traumatic or distressed state described above.

(m) An adjuster shall not knowingly fail to advise a claimant of the claimant's claim rights in accordance with the terms and conditions of the contract and of the applicable laws of this state. An adjuster shall exercise care not to engage in the unlicensed practice of law as prescribed by the Florida Bar.

(n) A company or independent adjuster shall not draft special releases called for by the unusual circumstances of any settlement or otherwise draft any form of release, unless advance written approval by the insurer can be demonstrated to the Department. Except as provided above, a company or independent adjuster is permitted only to fill in the blanks in a release form approved by the insurer they represent.

(o) An adjuster shall not undertake the adjustment of any claim concerning which the adjuster is not currently competent and knowledgeable as to the terms and conditions of the insurance coverage, or which otherwise exceeds the adjuster's current expertise.

(p) No person shall, as a public adjuster, represent any person or entity whose claim the adjuster has previously adjusted while acting as an adjuster representing any insurer or independent adjusting firm. No person shall, as a company or independent adjuster, represent him or herself or any insurer or independent adjusting firm against any person or entity that the adjuster previously represented as a public adjuster.

(q) A public adjuster shall not represent or imply to any client or potential client that insurers, company adjusters, or independent adjusters routinely attempt to, or do in fact, deprive claimants of their full rights under an insurance policy. No insurer, independent adjuster, or company adjuster shall represent or imply to any claimant that public adjusters are unscrupulous, or that engaging a public adjuster will delay or have other adverse effect upon the settlement of a claim.

(r) No public adjuster, while so licensed in the Department's records, may represent or act as a company adjuster, independent adjuster, or general lines agent.

(s) A company adjuster, independent adjuster, attorney, investigator, or other person acting on behalf of an insurer that needs access to an insured or claimant or to the insured property that is the subject of a claim shall provide at least 48 hours notice to the insured or claimant prior to scheduling a meeting with the claimant or an on-site inspection of the insured property. The insured or claimant may deny access to the property if this notice has not been provided.

Quoted in part from:

http://www.propertyinsurancecoveragelaw.com/2010/02/articles/regulation/adjusters-have-codes-of-ethics-floridas-are-significant-and-need-to-be-enforced/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supreme Court ruled unanimously written by Judge William Rehnquist concerning Hustler Magazine v Jerry Falwell

"At the heart of the First Amendment is the recognition of the fundamental importance of the free flow of ideas and opinions on matters of public interest and concern. The freedom to speak one's mind is not only an aspect of individual liberty – and thus a good unto itself – but also is essential to the common quest for truth and the vitality of society as a whole."

Supreme Court Judge Scalia wrote concerning Pope v Illinois

"Just as there is no use arguing about taste, there is no use litigating about it."

Copyright May 2011, All rights reserved by Ted Whidden

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