How Do I Know I Am Dealing With a Licensed Public Adjuster?

Many people are not aware of the laws governing public adjusters. When you are dealing with a large or complicated insurance claim, you might need the services of a licensed public adjuster.

The insurance industry is regulated at the state level and each state has its own insurance department. Some have strict regulations in place for public adjusters while others are more lenient.

In this article, we’ll look at how you can verify that you’re dealing with a licensed public adjuster. We’ll also look at what other criteria you should take into consideration before you appoint one.

Only deal with a licensed public adjuster

Note: Avner Gat, Inc. services Southern California so special attention will be given to how the State of California regulates public adjusters.

Am I Dealing With a Licensed Public Adjuster?

Your state’s insurance department should be able to advise you if you’re dealing with a licensed public adjuster.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has a database where you can look up individuals and companies. Search for Licensee by name or ideally a license number.

The states covered are:      

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

For the following states, you can use the Sircon database:

Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Wyoming.

The states mentioned below don’t appear in the above databases. Here are some helpful links you can use to find out if your public adjuster is licensed:

California – See below.
Connecticut – Insurance Department
Florida – Licensee Search
Hawaii – Insurance License Search
Idaho – Department of Insurance
Kentucky – Licensee Search
Louisiana – Adjuster Search
Maine – Licensee Search
Massachusetts – Public Insurance Adjusters
Michigan – Department of Insurance and Financial Services
Mississippi – Licensing Search
New York – Insurance License Search
Ohio – Department of Insurance
Pennsylvania – Licensee Search
Virginia – Bureau of Insurance
Washington – Insurance Commissioner

Licensed Public Adjuster in California

The easiest way to check if someone is a licensed public adjuster in California is to visit the California Department of Insurance site. Using an insurance license number or name, you can check a license.

This is what it looks like:

California license status inquiry

Here is the current listing for Avner Gat, Inc.

Avner Gat licensed public adjuster

The 2019 California Insurance Code (Division 5, Chapter 2) contains the Public Adjusters Act 15000 – 15062.

Article 1 – General Provisions (15000 – 15002)
Article 2 – Administration (15003 – 15005)
Article 3 – Regulation, Licensing, and Registration (15006 – 15032)
Article 4 – Bonds (15033 – 15037)
Article 5 – Disciplinary Proceedings (15038 – 15043)
Article 6 – Nonresidents (15044 – 15052)
Article 7 – Penal Provisions (15053)
Article 8 – Expiration and Renewal of Licenses and Cards (15054 – 15062)

Here are a couple of important extracts from the Act.

Section 15007 of the California Insurance Code (CIC) reads:

“A Public Insurance Adjuster is a person who, for compensation, acts on behalf of or aids in any manner, an insured in negotiating for or effecting the settlement of a claim or claims for loss or damage under any policy of insurance covering real or personal property or any person who advertises, solicits business, or holds himself or herself out to the public as an adjuster of those claims and any person who, for compensation, investigates, for those losses on behalf of any public insurance adjuster.”

Note that a public adjuster may appoint someone to investigate losses on their behalf.

Section 15016 of the California Insurance Code makes provision for apprentices:

“An Apprentice Public Insurance Adjuster licensee is a person employed by a Public Insurance Adjuster for the purpose of training.”

Note that a public adjuster may employ an apprentice.

Questions You Should Ask a Public Adjuster

Licensed public adjusters are not all the same. Some are better than others and you have to ask the right questions to determine who would be a good fit for you.

Are you licensed in this state?

If a public adjuster isn’t licensed to operate in your state, walk away.

Are you a resident in this state?

Many states, including California, do not require a public adjuster to be a resident in that state. Be careful when dealing with an out-of-state public adjuster. They may not have the resources, time, or experience to effectively manage your insurance claim on your behalf.

Can you provide me with references?

A reputable public adjuster will not have a problem providing you with references, on request. If a public adjuster refuses to provide you with any references, they might be hiding something.

For how many years have you been licensed as a public adjuster?

Experience plays a big role. Hiring a newly licensed public adjuster with limited experience might be risky.

For example, managing an insurance claim caused by a slab leak and understanding local building codes can be hard. More experience doesn’t always equal more expertise, but it can make a huge difference.

Red Flags

Here are some red flags to watch out for:

  • The public adjuster can’t give you a license number or the license has expired.
  • A public adjuster who pressures you to hire them.
  • The public adjuster has bad reviews.

Read what other customers have posted on review sites about their experience in dealing with a certain public adjuster. If there are several bad reviews, walk away!

Note: Avner Gat, Inc. has many 5-star testimonials on the highly respected review site Yelp. It’s a great testament of our skills, experience, and how committed we are to help our customers.

Conclusion

Make sure you’re dealing with a licensed public adjuster that’s allowed to operate in your state before you hire them. Asking them if they’re licensed is often not sufficient. This is especially the case when you don’t know them and are not sure if they are legitimate.

You should be able to verify whether a public adjuster is licensed or not by contacting your state’s insurance department. You can also use the links provided in this article to do an online search which should give you faster results.

Knowing you’re dealing with a licensed public adjuster can give you peace of mind. However, as in any other profession, some public adjusters are better than others.

Only deal with an experienced, reputable public adjuster. One who has earned a good reputation over many years, has great online reviews, and is willing to provide you with references.

Avner Gat, Inc. has 15+ years of experience as a public adjuster in Los Angeles. We protect homeowners from the games and fine print that insurance companies are known for.

Call us at (818) 917-5256 to find out how we can assist you.