This information was excerpted from Report No. 10-06 of the Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability, an office of the Florida Legislature.

For decades, we’ve been extolling the virtues and illustrating the effectiveness of hiring a public adjuster, primarily because we see the difference it makes in the lives of our clients every day. So, we are happy to report that, in January 2010, the state of Florida released the results of their study that compared insurance claims handled by a public adjuster versus those not handled by a public adjuster.

In a state that has had more than its fair share of major, weather-related catastrophes, Florida found that “policyholders with public adjuster representation typically received higher settlements than those without public adjusters.” Finally, an independent study confirming what we have been preaching all along!

Hurricane caused widespread wind & water damage

As part of their methodology, the state of Florida analyzed the claims data of Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, a not-for-profit, tax-exempt government corporation whose public purpose is to provide insurance protection to Florida property. The corporation insures hundreds of thousands of homes, businesses and condominiums throughout The Sunshine State.

The state examined 76,321 claims filed between March 2008 and June 2009 related to the 2004 and 2005 hurricanes. (Florida was struck with eight major hurricanes in 2004 and 2005, causing widespread property damage. The named hurricanes were Charley, Frances, Ivan, Jeanne, Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma.) Of this sample size, 21,545 claims had public adjuster representation. The comparison group consisted of 54,776 claims that either had no representation or were represented by a party other than a public adjuster, such as an attorney.

Of the 76,321 claims filed during this period, 61,324 were non-catastrophe claims, and the remaining 14,997 were catastrophe claims. The catastrophe claims included both new and re-opened claims. New claims are those that policyholders filed for the first time, while re-opened claims were filed earlier, but were reinvestigated for supplemental payment.

For example, a policyholder may have sustained damage to their roof during a 2004 hurricane, notified the insurance company of the loss, received a claims payment and repaired the roof. In 2009, the policyholder may have noticed mildew near the area that sustained damage in 2004 and filed a new claim to repair the damage that originated from the hurricane, even though the initial damage occurred five years earlier.

It’s important to note here that Professional Loss Adjusters employs the use of highly-sensitive technology—such as the Fluke Thermal Imager—to detect moisture above ceilings and behind walls. When detected, this becomes part of our initial claim, negating the need to re-open claims in the future and saving our client from having to suffer with the mold and mildew that exists in those wet conditions.

Fluke thermal imager helps detect moisture

The chart below illustrates that the typical payment to a policyholder represented by a public adjuster was $22,266 for claims filed in 2008 and 2009 related to the 2004 hurricanes. In contrast, policyholders who did not use a public adjuster received typical payments of $18,659. The difference in payments was even larger for claims related to the 2005 hurricanes, with public adjuster claims resulting in typical payments of $17,187, as opposed to non-public adjuster claims payments of $2,029—that’s an increase of 747% in claims payments when a public adjuster represented the policyholder.

Public adjusters get better results

This dramatic increase is likely due to the fact that the number of public adjusters working in Florida increased substantially, from 678 in 2003-2004 to 2,914 in 2008-2009. The cumulative effect of their increased claims payments is evident in the data.