Independent Adjuster Licensing – The Year In Review

2012 saw many changes when it came to the world of Independent Adjuster licensing.  For you experienced adjusters, this comes as no surprise.  Like the old saying says: “The only constant is change.”  Below is a recap of the state by state changes that occurred in 2012.  If you’re licensed in any these states read on to make sure you’re still in compliance.

Alabama announced they would begin requiring all resident adjusters take an exam in order to obtain an independent adjuster license. Alabama had not required any testing in the past, simply an application. They will also now issue by Lines of Authority; Property & Casualty, Property & Casualty excluding Workers Compensation, Crop and Apprentice. All resident applicants will be required to submit fingerprints.

Alaska began implementing the NIPR system for new applications, renewals, reinstatements and address changes. You can also do electronic email updates and print a copy of your license at no cost by accessing the Alaska DOI website.

Arizona clarified they will only reciprocate with individuals and entities holding a home state license. Reciprocity not be granted to anyone with a designated home state license.

The state of Delaware will now accept applications through the NIPR system for those adjusters holding a Designated Home State license. They are also offering email address updates for individuals and business entities through their state DOI website.

Florida made some major changes. They once had an overabundance of license types. All adjusters will now be given the “All Lines Adjuster” designation. This means individuals as well as Independent Firms will be able to appoint any licensed adjuster in the state. They have also implemented the “MyProfile” portion of the website which allows adjusters to keep track of their CE compliance date, appointments, profiles, etc. New applicants may also create a MyProfile account and submit an application online.

Georgia will now issue a two-year license beginning with this year’s 12/31/12 renewal period. With the addition of the Citizenship Affidavit requirement, the state is behind on processing and is asking that everyone be patient. They are processing as quickly as possible to try to complete the renewals by the end of the year. If you have not yet submitted your Citizenship Affidavit your renewal will be held until it is received. More information on this requirement can be found on the GA DOI website.

Michigan began accepting application through NIPR. They also announced they have a new vendor, PSI, for residents needing to take the initial exam.

Oklahoma announced it no longer requires a proctor be present during the final exam for self-study CE courses. They also made the announcement of a new license exam which began on November 1, 2012. If you will be taking the OK exam, you want to make sure you have the most current up-to-date study materials prior to taking the exam.

Effective in May of this year Oregon’s main processing system became the State Based System. However, business entities will not be able to apply or renew online. Adjusters need to make sure the state has a current email address on file as they are no longer mailing paper correspondence. All communication will be done via email. Although SBS is their main processing system, you can process renewals through either NIPR or SBS.

Texas is now requiring IA firms conducting business in the state to now acquire a Business Entity Adjuster License. With so many changes, we will try to list what we feel are the most important issues when it comes to IA licensing.

Important Change For Adjusting Firms Doing Business In Texas

For those of us who have been in the adjuster licensing field for some time now, Texas has always been known as one of the states which did not require adjusting firms to hold a business entity license. Along with so many other things, this too has changed.

Recently, Texas began requiring adjusting firms to acquire a business entity license to work claims in their state. Finding the application can actually be somewhat tricky. The form you will need to complete is TDI Form Number FIN507, “Licensing Application for Insurance Agency License.” Although adjusting firms typically do not consider themselves “agencies,” the adjuster entity application is contained within the agency license application.

To access the application, go to the Agent Forms located at http://www.tdi.texas.gov/forms/form11.html .  Scroll down to the Agent/Adjuster Application Forms. Here you fill find the necessary application to register your adjusting firm as a business entity in the state of Texas.

According to contacts within the Texas Department of Insurance, they have been so inundated with forms they are still processing processing applications submitted in September and October.  And now that word is getting out processing will most likely be even longer.  The department is working extremely hard to process all applications but it could take some time to actually receive your license.

Texas is a paper application state so open the form, fill out the appropriate fields and print it.  Do not follow the think for an online application because it will ultimately direct you back to the paper form.

Remember also that the first step to obtaining a business entity adjusting license is to register to do business in Texas. Like other state’s you’ll be required to provide proof that the business is registered.

Putting in a small plug for Xeneros; we can help you acquire both your business registration and business entity license for $125 plus state and registered agent fees.  Contact sales@xeneros.net for an easy way to become compliant in Texas.

Hurricane Sandy Heading to the East Coast – Understanding Emergency Licensing

The current predictions are that Hurricane Sandy is going to make landfall somewhere along the East Coast. The impending storm will most likely affect the New England states. With that in mind, there are many questions as to the requirements for Emergency Adjuster licensing procedures in those states. We are going to try to give you a brief summary of the requirements for the licensed states which may be impacted by the storm. Keep in mind that the requirements will vary depending on if you are an independent firm or an insurer or carrier.

We always recommend obtaining an adjusting license in lieu of an emergency license. Licenses are good for one to three years depending upon the state and you can be mobilized immediately if you already have a license making you more valuable to IA firms. Lastly, states are making it harder, not easier to obtain emergency licenses.

Xeneros provides a license acquisition service. Xeneros helped dozens of adjusters during Isaac. For a small fee, Xeneros will complete the online or paper documents, submit them on your behalf and then follow up with that state until the license is issued. For more information contact: sales@xeneros.net.

Here is a rundown of the potentially affected states that have licensing requirements:

Connecticut – The state of Connecticut only allows for insurers to mobilize emergency adjusters in the event of a catastrophe:

“Insurers (does not include independent firms) must send an email to cid.licensing@ct.gov for permission to handle CAT claims, specifying exact number of the catastrophe, type of storm (snow, flood, tornado, hurricane, etc.), and the part of the state (county) affected. The e-mail MUST include the company’s NAIC number.  Include list of all personnel and who will be working in the state: their home state, name(s) and address(es) of adjusting firm(s) if being utilized, AND copies of the licenses of personnel currently licensed in their home state or any state where they hold an active license. If home state does not require licensing and the adjuster does not hold an active adjuster license in any other state, the insurance company must verify in writing that the individual has a minimum of (2) year’s experience as an adjuster. The DOI will send an email confirmation to the company authorizing a list of individuals for a period of 90 days. A copy of the letter should be given to each adjuster. Authorization is renewable for additional periods dependent upon performance, complaints, etc. The Commissioner may revoke authority at any time. The insurance company must provide each individual with a photo ID which should be displayed at all times.”

For more information on the Connecticut requirements you can visit their website at http://www.ct.gov/cid/site/default.asp. The quickest way to find information on emergency licensing is to do a search in the upper right hand corner of their home page.

Delaware – As with Connecticut, Delaware requires the request for emergency licensing come from an insurer:

“No adjuster’s license shall be required for any adjuster sent into this State on behalf of an insurer for the investigation or adjustment of a particularly unusual or extraordinary loss, or series of losses, resulting from a catastrophe common to all such losses; provided that such adjuster shall furnish to the Commissioner written notice within 10 calendar days of any such catastrophic insurance adjustment work. Applications can be submitted online and are issued for 60 days. A letter from the insurance carrier must be faxed to the DOI or emailed indicating an application has been submitted online for an Emergency CAT Adjuster license. The letter must indicate the name, phone number, and email address of the company official who is responsible for the Emergency CAT Adjuster for the duration of the license. The Emergency CAT Adjusters is required to carry this license, along with a photo ID in order to gain access to disaster areas during an emergency.”

You can do a search on the Delaware website at http://delawareinsurance.gov/ for more information on emergency procedures.

Maine – The state of Maine does not issue emergency adjuster licenses. In the event of an emergency or catastrophe, all adjusters are required to hold a license in the state of Maine. Paper applications can be completed and emailed to the state providing the hard copy is mailed at a later date. If an adjuster intends to email the application to the state, contact the department at 800-791-4080 to request an email address and inform them you are submitting an application for the catastrophe and the state will process these licenses with priority.

New Hampshire – New Hampshire accepts applications for emergency licensing online. Whether you hold a home state, designated home state or non-resident license in another state, providing you took an exam, you can submit an application online. For adjusters who live in non-licensed states, there is an exemption of having 6-months adjusting experience. Those adjusters must submit a paper application which can be hand delivered to the state. All applications for emergency licensing are processed immediately.

More information can be found at the following link: http://www.nh.gov/insurance/producers/adjusterslicenses.htm. Scroll to the bottom of the page and the requirements are listed under “New Hampshire Insurance Department – For Producer/Adjusters, Adjusters Licenses ***Temporary/Emergency/Catastrophe Adjuster Licenses***” This will also give you the links to make the applications online or print the paper application.

New York – New York is another state which requires the permits be requested by “authorized Insurers only.” The application is available online at http://www.dfs.ny.gov/insurance/licensing/permit_temp_adjuster.htm.

Rhode Island – Per the state’s requirements, independent firms are eligible to register adjusters. A word document must be emailed to emergenyadj@dbr.ri.gov including the name, business address and other contact information of the employer of the experienced adjuster whom the entity is engaging for emergency adjusting services. 1) The name of each experienced adjuster whom the entity has used for emergency services; 2) The state(s) in which the individual is licensed as an adjuster; or 3) a statement that the individual regularly adjusts in another state where such licensing is not required and works for an adjusting entity or insurance company authorized to do business in Rhode Island.

For more information on Rhode Island’s requirements visit their website at http://www.dbr.state.ri.us/divisions/insurance/.

Vermont – Before any emergency licenses are issued, the Insurance Commissioner must first declare a catastrophe in the state. In the event the catastrophe is declared, only insurers are eligible to submit a list of adjusters for emergency licensing. The adjuster must be licensed in his/her resident state or other state if resident state does not issue such license. The insurer must notify the Department of its intention to use catastrophe adjusters and provide a list of names, addresses and license information for individuals who will be adjusting.

If you have further questions regarding Vermont’s requirements for emergency licensing you can email dfr.producerlicensing@state.vt.us. Make sure to provide them with a telephone number where they may contact you.

As a final note, please know that all states which require the insurer request the emergency license this means EACH insurer the adjuster intends to adjust claims for must submit a form on their behalf. If company ABC Insurance submits a form on behalf of adjuster John Smith in the state of New York, this means adjuster Smith is only eligible to work for ABC Insurance. If there are other insurers he intends to adjust claims for, those insurers must also submit forms on his behalf. This holds true for each state requiring the insurer submit a form.

Alabama Adds Exam, CE, and More

Alabama has never required an exam in order to acquire an IA license. This is about to change.

The state of Alabama recently announced they are in the midst of some major changes. The biggest of which will be the requirement of an exam in order to obtain the Alabama Independent Adjuster license. The exam will apply to any resident who does not hold a valid adjuster license. Those residents will be required to complete a pre-licensing course prior to taking the Alabama exam. Non-residents who hold another license in a state in which they tested will still be able to obtain the license through reciprocity.  At this time, it is unknown whether or not current license-holders will be grandfather and if so, what the terms are.

Currently, Alabama only issues a standard IA license with no lines of authority listed. They will begin offering different types of licenses: Property & Casualty including Workers’ Compensation, Property & Casualty excluding Workers’ Compensation, Workers’ Compensation, and Crop. The number of hours of pre-licensing needed will depend on the type of license being applied for.

One other significant change will be the Continuing Education requirement. In the past, no CE was needed to renew an Alabama IA license. Beginning in 2014, resident adjusters will be required to complete 24 hours of CE, including 3 hours of ethics. Non-Resident Adjusters who have met their home state requirement for CE will be exempt from the Alabama requirement. If your home state, or designated home state, has no requirement you will need to comply with Alabama’s CE requirements. All CE must be complete prior to the 2014 renewal period.

License terms have also been adjusted to biennial renewals. Adjusters will renew every two years in their birth month based on their year of birth, odd or even. Business Entities will renew every two years, in odd years. The state fees are $100 plus NIPR transaction fee.

For more information on any upcoming changes in the state of Alabama, visit their Department of Insurance homepage at http://www.aldoi.gov/. All bulletins are posted directly in the middle of the homepage. If you are a producer, you may want to visit their site as there are changes affecting producers as well.

Florida Announces Licensing Changes

Recently, the Securities and Insurance Licensing Association (SILA) held its National Educational Conference in Denver, Colorado. SILA is a fantastic organization dedicated to the insurance licensing world. If you are involved in licensing matters for insurance agents, securities brokers, broker/dealers, TPA’s, appraisers, or adjusters, SILA can assist with any questions or concerns that arise.

In addition to licensing professionals, insurance regulators from many states attend the conference. Sessions are held to review upcoming changes. One of the most important changes relates to Florida and the license types it issues. Florida announced they have reduced the types of licenses issued from 24 to 2. Most importantly, they will no longer differentiate between an Independent Adjuster and a Company Adjuster.

Why is this so important? In order for an adjuster to be eligible to work claims in the state of Florida they must hold an appointment. There are two types of appointments, a self-appointment or a company appointment. In the past, if an adjuster held a company license, he or she could only be appointed by a company. If the adjuster opted to leave the company and decide to work as an independent adjuster, the only way they could be appointed was to change their license type to an independent adjuster versus a company adjuster. This involved resubmitting their application to the state. Adjusting firms were not able to appoint an adjuster who held a company license and the adjuster themselves could not do a self-appointment.

With the change that took effect on October 1, 2012, firms, companies and individuals are able to appoint regardless of the type of license held. The state intends to change all adjusters over to a simple “Adjuster” license. No more Company Adjuster or Independent Adjuster. The adjusters will no longer need to change the type of license they hold in order to be eligible for an appointment, regardless of who does the appointing.

For more information on Florida licensing and appointments, visit their website at http://www.floir.com/ and click on Agents/Agency Services. This will take you to the Licensing and Compliance section where you can find information regarding MyProfile, Continuing Education Information, forms, eAppoint and much more.

For more information on SILA you can visit their website at http://www.sila.org. The website gives information on how you can join the association. If you are a company or firm handling your own licensing in-house, SILA is a valuable tool to assist you in staying current with all the industry changes. States release Regulatory Announcements to SILA and they are posted on their website. However, these announcements are only available to members.

Congratulations to Louisiana on their Prompt Response to Adjuster Licensing

Xeneros, LLC offers a service that acquires state licenses for insurance adjusters and independent adjusting firms. As you know, Louisiana was struck by Hurricane Isaac. Due to changes in emergency licensing requirements Xeneros was inundated with requests to help adjusters in transit to or already in Louisiana to adjust claims.

Many states, including Louisiana, do issue an emergency license in the event of an emergency or catastrophe. However, in the state of Louisiana, the requests for emergency licenses must come from the carriers (as anyone currently in Louisiana now knows). Therefore, the best option of most claims adjusters was to obtain a regular non-resident adjuster license.

With what we can only assume was an overwhelming request for adjuster licenses, the Louisiana Department of Insurance Licensing Bureau was extremely responsive and they were able to turn around online requests approximately 24 hours. For those submitting paper applications, the department was processing the day they received the application. In cases of extreme emergency need of a license, they had adjusters overnight the application to the licensing department reviewed them the same day.

Not only was the state of Louisiana responsive, they were processing applications Labor Day weekend. We know because Xeneros was submitting applications on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and they were being approved overnight.

After Hurricane Katrina and many other recent storms, or threats of storms, the Louisiana Department of Insurance realized the need to have licensed adjusters in the state as quickly as possible to ensure their residents received a quick response to their loss. Hurricane Isaac seemed to test what they had learned and they rose to the occasion. The state of Louisiana passed with flying colors.

Xeneros and its’ clients, would like to pass along a big thank you, and congratulations, to the state of Louisiana. Specifically to those individuals who worked long hours, and over the weekend, to make sure these adjusters received their license in a timely manner. You definitely made the process easier by getting adjusters ready for deployment sooner rather than later. Thank you.

Licensing Lessons Learned From Isaac

Many adjusters headed south this last week toward Louisiana in search of work.  Isaac had all the makings of a serious matter and our adjusting fraternity had every intention of helping insureds. 

When many adjusters were in route or onsite, they learned that the emergency licensing requirements had changed. Well – they’re changing all over, and not necessarily with the intention of making and adjuster’s life easier.  In Louisiana, only carriers can request emergency licenses and many are reluctant to add the names of and IA firms roster, which is completely understandable.

For any adjuster there’s really only one option: acquire a license.  But there’s another catch; to acquire a license the quickest way, you have to apply online and to apply online you have to have a home state or a designated home state. This means your Texas non-resident license is not good enough.  Online applications are being processed in one business day while mailed in applications are taking up to five.  That’s a significant amount of income being sacrificed sitting in a hotel room, waiting for the state to approve an application.  

Compare that to an adjuster who had a designated home state license that learned somewhere between Kansas and Louisiana that he needed a license.  He called Xeneros on Friday and on Saturday had his Louisiana license (true story).  Why? There are several factors:

  1. The adjuster had a designated home state license.  Most online applications require a home state or designate home state. A non-resident license is simply not good today.  He had the foresight to designate a home state.
  2. Xeneros processes all licenses within  2 hours of receipt of payment information. Xeneros’ license acquisition saved the adjuster hours or days in applying for the license.   Knowing exactly what was necessary also helped.
  3. To Louisiana’s credit, they were processing licenses Friday night and Saturday.  And every day since, they have been processing license applications in a day or less(we know; we’ve been submitting applications on behalf of adjusters at a blistering pace every day).

The end result is a pool of adjusters ready, willing and able to help insureds get back on their feet and into their homes.  This is cooperation at it’s finest.