Senator NELLIE POU
District 35 (Bergen and Passaic)
Requires certain information be included in certain contracts with licensed public adjusters.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning licensed public adjusters and amending and supplementing P.L.1993, c.66.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. Section 13 of P.L.1993, c.66 (C.17:22B-13) is amended to read as follows:
13. No individual, firm, association or corporation licensed under [this act] P.L.1993, c.66 (C.17:22B-1 et al.) shall:
a. solicit the adjustment of a loss or damage occurring in this State from an insured, whether by personal interview, by telephone, or by any other method, between the hours of six p.m. and eight a.m. during the 24 hours after the loss has occurred;
b. enter into any agreement, oral or written, with an insured to negotiate or settle claims for loss or damage occurring in this State between the hours of six p.m. and eight a.m. during the 24 hours after the loss has occurred;
c. have any right to compensation from any insured for or on account of services rendered to an insured as a public adjuster unless the right to compensation is based upon a written [memorandum] contract, signed by the party to be charged and by the adjuster[, and specifying] and the contract:
(1) states the license number of the public adjuster signing the contract as well as the license number of the company or firm, if the contract is in the name of a public adjusting company or firm;
(2) specifies or clearly [defining] defines the services to be rendered, [and] the amount or extent of the compensation, and the insured’s right to cancel or terminate the agreement, on a form and with such language as the commissioner may prescribe; and
(3) meets with the minimum standards and requirements of section 2 of P.L. , c. (C. ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill);
d. induce cancellation of a duly executed written [memorandum] contract between an insured and a public adjuster;
e. make any misrepresentation of facts or advise any person on questions of law in connection with the transaction of business as an adjuster; or
f. receive, accept or hold any moneys towards the settlement of a claim for loss or damage on behalf of an insured unless the public adjuster deposits the moneys in an [interest bearing] escrow account in a banking institution or savings and loan association in this State insured by an agency of the federal government. Any funds held in escrow together with interest accumulated thereon shall be the property of the insured until disbursement thereof pursuant to a written [memorandum] contract, signed by the insured and by the adjuster, [specifying or clearly defining the services rendered and the amount of any compensation to be paid therefrom] as specified above and in section 2 of P.L. ,
c. (C. ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill). In the event of the insolvency or bankruptcy of a public adjuster, the claim of an insured for any settlement moneys received, accepted or held by the adjuster shall constitute a statutory trust.
(cf: P.L.2010, c.116, s.3)
2. (New section) a. A particular form of statement is not required, but the following statements and notice of right to cancel are sufficient with regard to defining the services to be rendered and a description of the right to cancel.
“A public adjuster is hereby retained by the above-named insured to advise and assist in the adjustment of a property damage insurance claim, which services may include evaluation, documentation, presentation and negotiation of the insurance claim arising from the loss described herein.”
“The insured may cancel this contract within three business days without further obligation by completing the attached notice of right to cancel. After that time if the contract is terminated by the insured, the insured remains obligated to pay from any insurance proceeds recovered, either prior to or after the date of termination, a fee for the reasonable value of services provided by the public adjuster.”
b. The following notice of right to cancel is sufficient with regard to defining the right to cancel:
“NOTICE OF RIGHT TO CANCEL
Date of Contract: _____ / _____ / ____
Name of Insured/s:________________________________
You may cancel this contract, without penalty or obligation, prior to midnight of the third business day after the above date. If you exercise your right to cancel this contract, you will remain liable for reasonable expenses and necessary emergency out-of-pocket expenses or services the public adjuster incurred on your behalf that were necessary to protect your investment between signing of the contract and cancellation.
If you cancel, anything of value given by you under the contract will be returned within 10 business days following the receipt by the public adjuster of your cancellation notice, and any security interest arising out of the contract will be canceled.
To cancel this contract, mail,
fax or personally deliver a signed and dated copy of this notice, or any other
written notice, indicating your intent to cancel and date of cancellation, to
the address of public adjuster shown at the top of the public adjuster
contract, no later than midnight of ______ / ______ / ______.
I HEREBY CANCEL THIS CONTRACT
Please Print Name Date: _____ / _____ / _____”
c. If a public adjuster is to receive as compensation a percentage of the total amount paid by the insurer to resolve the insured’s claim for property damage to the insured’s primary or secondary dwelling, the contract between a public adjuster and an insured may not contain a contract term that would:
(1) allow the public adjuster to collect the public adjuster's entire compensation from the first payment issued by the insurer if the insurer will pay the total amount to resolve the insured's claim in two or more payments;
(2) require the insured to authorize an insurer to issue a check only in the name of the public adjuster; and
(3) preclude the public adjuster or the insured from pursuing civil remedies.
3. This act shall take effect on the 180th day next following the date of enactment.
This bill provides that no individual, firm, association, or corporation licensed under the “Public Adjusters’ Licensing Act” has any right to compensation from any insured for or on account of services rendered to an insured as a public adjuster unless the contract stipulates certain information.
Under the bill, a contract is required to:
(1) state the license number of the public adjuster signing the contract as well and of the company or firm, if the contract is in the name of a public adjusting company or firm,
(2) specify or clearly define the services to be rendered, the amount or extent of the compensation, and the insured’s right to cancel or terminate the agreement, on a form and in language prescribed by the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance; and
(3) meet the minimum standards set forth in the bill regarding certain descriptions of the services rendered and of the right to cancel.
The bill does not require a particular form of statement for the descriptions of services rendered or of the right to cancel, but does provide sample statements. The bill requires a notice of right to cancel be part of the contract between the insured and the public adjuster.
Lastly, the bill amends current law providing that no individual, firm, association, or corporation licensed under the “Public Adjusters’ Licensing Act” is permitted to receive, accept or hold any moneys toward the settlement of a claim for loss or damage on behalf of an insured unless the public adjuster deposits the moneys in a permitted escrow account to remove language stipulating that the escrow account be interest bearing.