Florida's High Court: 48-Hour Wait for Adjusters Unconstitutional
Florida’s top court has backed up the 1st District Court of Appeal in declaring it was unconstitutional to force public insurance adjusters to wait 48 hours after a major storm or catastrophic event before contacting potential claimants.
“We affirm the 1st District‘s decision that the statute unconstitutionally restricts the commercial speech of public adjusters because it is not narrowly tailored to serve the state‘s interests in ensuring ethical conduct by public adjusters and protecting homeowners,” the Florida Supreme Court justices ruled Thursday in Jeffrey Atwater v. Frederick Kortum.
The 1st District ruled in December against the 48-hour waiting period, which legislators approved in 2007 based upon a recommendation from the state-backed Task Force on Citizens Property Insurance Claims Handling and Resolution, which has proposed a 72-hour waiting period.
The task force was set up following the busy 2004-2005 hurricane seasons.
Kortum, a public adjuster, claimed the law violated his freedom of speech.
A trial court initially backed the law, siding with the state Department of Financial Services' contention that the rule allowed written communications and only prohibited in-person and telephonic communications.
The 1st District disagreed, claiming the statute prohibits all public adjuster-initiated contact, electronic, written or oral.
Atwater appealed the 1st District ruling.
His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.