Virginia regulators announced that beginning Jan. 1, 2013, all individuals and business entities doing business in the state as a public adjuster must be licensed by the State Corporation Commission.
Virginia will now become the 45th state to license public adjusters. Regulators said that as a result of the new law, public adjusters will be required to comply with standards of conduct and continuing education requirements, and their fees must be fair and reasonable in relation to the work performed. The State Corporation Commission may suspend or revoke licenses under certain conditions.
The State Corporation Commission’s insurance bureau reminds Virginians that they are not required to hire a public adjuster. However, the bureau offers the following tips if Virginia consumers do consider hiring one:
• Beginning Jan. 1, 2013, make sure the public adjuster is licensed by the insurance bureau. Consumers can call the bureau toll-free at 1-877-310-6560 to verify this.
• Before signing a public adjuster contract, consumers may want to familiarize themselves with the requirements governing public adjuster contracts as well as the standards of conduct applicable to public adjusters. This information may be found on the insurance bureau’s website.
• Carefully read any contract given and do not sign it unless the consumer understands and agrees to all the terms including fees and payment terms.
• Ask the public adjuster for references and contact them for their opinion of the work before signing a contract. This is particularly important when dealing with non-resident public adjusters who may come to Virginia to handle claims following a disaster.
• Check with the Better Business Bureau and the insurance bureau to see if there are any complaints against the public adjuster.
• Find out how experienced the public adjuster is.
• Notify the insurance company when contracting with a public adjuster and give them the name of the person who will be authorized to work with the insurance company on the consumer’s behalf.
• Meet with more than one public adjuster before making a decision. Check references and the public adjuster’s license status before signing a contract.