Calif. Department of Insurance Denies it Violated Claims Adjusting Firm’s Settlement Terms

By | February 24, 2008

Matthew Todd, vice president of Paramount Disaster Recovery Inc., is claiming a media release by California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner misrepresented Paramount’s actions related to a recent lawsuit as well as the terms of a settlement the company made with the California Insurance Department.

“If I had known early on that Poizner would resort to mudslinging and trial-by-media, I would have moved forward with a full-blown hearing to clear myself of any inkling of impropriety in connection with the matters set forth in the cease-and-desist order,” said Todd. He declined to disclose whether his company would pursue additional litigation in this matter.

In responding to the allegations, Jason Kimbrough, deputy press secretary for the California Department of Insurance, dismissed Todd’s charges. “We didn’t violate any agreement to not issue a news release on the settlement,” said Kimbrough. “No representations were made in the news release.”

Kimbrough added that the commissioner’s release stated that Paramount did not admit nor deny the facts contained in the order. “We’re just pleased that they cannot portray or act as unlicensed public insurance adjusters in California and that our legal costs were covered,” Kimbrough said.

The dispute centers on a news release Poizner’s office issued Jan. 15. The release said that Paramount, a California corporation based in Palos Verdes, vice president Todd and Charlie R. Rose (aka Reed Lostman) had agreed collectively to pay a $200,000 penalty, reimburse the state $75,000 for litigation costs, and refrain from operating as unlicensed insurance claims adjusters in California.

On Aug. 2, 2007, Paramount, Slepcevic, Todd and Rose were served with a cease-and-desist order for allegedly posing and operating as public insurance adjusters. Todd and Rose, on behalf of Paramount, were purportedly securing insurance jobs from Angora (South Lake Tahoe) Fire survivors trying to rebuild their homes. CDI’s Investigation Division conducted the investigation leading to the order.

CDI stated that by agreeing to the settlement, Paramount did not admit or deny the facts contained the cease-and-desist order, which alleged that in at least two cases Rose, Todd and Slepcevic represented Paramount in the solicitation of South Lake Tahoe property owners within the seven-calendar-day waiting period to estimate the homeowners’ loss from the Angora Fire, negotiated settlements with the homeowners’ insurance carrier, and entered into contract with the property owners for public insurance adjusting services. CDI said that Paramount’s contract with the homeowners guaranteed Paramount 20 percent “of the total full amount of the loss settlement negotiated with and agreed to by the Client’s Insurance Company” if Paramount did not perform the work they recommended. CDI said, “this arrangement clearly places Paramount’s financial interest ahead of the insureds’ interests.”

In response to the commissioner’s news release concerning the settlement, Todd said Paramount was acting within the purview of its license as a general contractor when it prepared a detailed analysis of fire and smoke damage for its clients and had never acted as a public adjuster in South Lake Tahoe.

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