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COMMISSIONER'S BULLETIN # B-0058-08

September 14, 2008


To: ALL INSURANCE COMPANIES, CORPORATIONS, EXCHANGES, MUTUALS, RECIPROCALS, ASSOCIATIONS, LLOYDS, OR OTHER INSURERS WRITING PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE IN THE STATE OF TEXAS, INCLUDING WORKERS COMPENSATION INSURANCE; PREMIUM FINANCE COMPANIES; AGENTS, REPRESENTATIVES, AND ADJUSTERS; AND THE PUBLIC GENERALLY


Re: Hurricane Ike - An Extraordinary Event Claims Adjusting for Hurricane Victims or Evacuees

On September 8, 2008, Governor Rick Perry issued a proclamation declaring that Hurricane Ike poses a threat of imminent disaster along the Texas Coast and in numerous counties including Angelina, Austin, Brazoria, Brazos, Chambers, Cherokee, Fort Bend, Galveston, Gregg, Hardin, Harris, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Nacogdoches, Newton, Orange, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Trinity, Tyler, Walker, Waller, and Wharton counties beginning September 7, 2008 and continuing, directing that all necessary measures both public and private as authorized under §418.017 of the Texas Government Code be implemented to meet that threat. The proclamation also states that, as provided in §418.016 of the Texas Government Code, all rules and regulations that may inhibit or prevent prompt response to this threat are suspended for the duration of the disaster. On September 12, 2008, Governor Rick Perry issued an amendment to his September 7, 2008 proclamation, declaring that additional counties including Grimes, Houston, Madison, Rusk, and Washington counties are under imminent threat of disaster as a result of Hurricane Ike.

On September 13, 2008, President George Bush issued a major disaster declaration for the state of Texas and ordered federal aid to supplement state, local and tribal recovery efforts in the area struck by Hurricane Ike beginning on September 7, 2008, and continuing. The President's action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Angelina, Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Cherokee, Fort Bend, Galveston, Grimes, Hardin, Harris, Houston, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Madison, Matagorda, Montgomery, Nacogdoches, Newton, Orange, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Trinity, Tyler, Walker, Waller, and Washington.

In the current disaster circumstances, the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) reminds carriers that Insurance Code §§4101.002(b) and 4101.101 authorize carriers to immediately use nonresident and emergency adjusters to handle claims. These provisions are discussed further at http://www.tdi.state.tx.us/licensing/agent/agemeradj.html.

With the possible relocation of hurricane victims and other personal hardships sustained by residents of Angelina, Austin, Brazoria, Brazos, Chambers, Cherokee, Fort Bend, Galveston, Gregg, Grimes, Hardin, Harris, Houston, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Madison, Matagorda, Montgomery, Nacogdoches, Newton, Orange, Polk, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Trinity, Tyler, Walker, Waller, Washington, and Wharton counties, TDI encourages carriers to use all available means to provide prompt and immediate relief to those residents and policyholders.

Additionally, TDI reminds all persons, including building and repair contractors, that Texas Insurance Code Chapter 4102 requires all persons acting as public insurance adjusters to be licensed by the department. The Insurance Code provides for both civil and criminal penalties for violating this licensing requirement.

Insurance Code §4102.001(3) defines a public insurance adjuster as:

(A) a person who, for direct, indirect, or any other compensation:

(1) acts on behalf of an insured in negotiating for or effecting the settlement of a claim or claims for loss or damage under any policy of insurance covering real or personal property; or

(2) on behalf of any other public insurance adjuster, investigates, settles, or adjusts or advises or assists an insured with a claim or claims for loss or damage under any policy of insurance covering real or personal property; or

(B) a person who advertises, solicits business, or holds himself or herself out to the public as an adjuster of claims for loss or damage under any policy of insurance covering real or personal property.

Further, Insurance Code §4102.158 prohibits public insurance adjusters from participating directly or indirectly in the reconstruction, repair, or restoration of damaged property that is the subject of a claim adjusted by the license holder or engaging in any other activities that may reasonably be construed as presenting a conflict of interest, including soliciting or accepting any remuneration from, or having a financial interest in, any salvage firm, repair firm, or other firm that obtains business in connection with any claim the licensee has a contract or agreement to adjust.

Contractors are not listed among the persons exempt from the licensing requirement in Insurance Code §4102.002.

Chapter 4102 does not prohibit contractors from providing estimates or discussing those estimates and other technical information with an insurer or its adjuster.

Additional information regarding public insurance adjusters, including fees public insurance adjusters are allowed to charge for services, is available on the department's website at: http://www.tdi.state.tx.us/licensing/agent/agpubadj2.html.

Questions regarding this bulletin may be directed to the Licensing Division at (512) 305-8197 or the Enforcement Division at (512) 305-7239 or the Fraud Unit at (512) 463-6492.

Mike Geeslin

Commissioner of Insurance



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