Florida OKs Emergency Adjusters, Brings In Fraud Strike Teams for Sally Recovery

September 23, 2020

The Florida Department of Financial Services has deployed its Disaster Fraud Action Strike Team (DFAST) to the Florida Panhandle, as well as activated the state’s emergency adjuster license system to assist with recovery efforts from Hurricane Sally.

According to a statement from DFS, the DFAST strike team will work to protect storm victims from fraud attempts following the Category 2 storm that hit the region on Sept. 16. The DFAST deployment consists of eight insurance fraud and workers’ compensation investigators positioned in the storm impacted areas including Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties.

The anti-fraud teams work to educate and inform the public on signs of post-storm fraud and ensure contractors are following Florida workers’ compensation law while conducting repairs, DFS said.

“Following a natural disaster, scam artists work overtime to defraud individuals in their time of need,” said Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis, who oversees DFS. “These anti-fraud strike teams consist of trained insurance fraud investigators with specialized knowledge of property and casualty fraud and workers’ compensation fraud that will be on the ground today in the impacted areas of the Panhandle to ensure residents can recover quickly and lawbreakers are held responsible.”

The teams first deployed following Hurricane Irma in 2017 and have oversaw several post-hurricane fraud fighting efforts in the state since.

DFS said indicators of storm-related fraud include:

  • Contractor or restoration professionals offering to waive or discount insurance deductibles.
  • Contractors or restoration professionals that receive payment and fail to provide any repairs to the home.
  • Contractors or restoration professionals offering to provide repairs at a cash-only discounted rate and have failed to provide repairs to the home.
  • Contractors or restoration professionals who pressure the homeowner to sign an AOB and fail to provide any repairs to the home or stop responding to contact attempts.

Patronis also activated the state’s emergency adjuster license system, which will allow more adjusters to deploy to the region to help those impacted by the storm get the claims process started. The emergency adjuster licensing system allows insurers to bring in catastrophe adjusters from other states to respond to catastrophe claims, such as hurricanes.

“The faster adjusters can assess damages to their policyholders, the quicker consumers can be compensated for their losses and rebuild,” Patronis said.

DFS licenses and regulates insurance adjusters in the state of Florida. There are more than 150,000 adjusters currently licensed by the state.

Anyone needing insurance assistance with the claims process can call the Insurance Consumer Helpline toll-free at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (693-5236).

Source: Florida Department of Financial Services

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