Insurance companies hire unlicensed adjusting firms

ALICE, Texas – Justin Dunavant and his wife aren’t sure what they miss the most, their dog or their garden.

They haven’t been able to be around either since moving out of their home in March.

The couple and their three children have been living in a nearby Holiday Inn for two months while they wait on a claims dispute to be resolved with their insurance carrier.

The United States Army veteran has filed a lawsuit against his insurance company because they are approving a claim amount that sits about $100,000 shy of what a public adjuster said would be needed to repair damages caused in January.

On what would have been a typical Thursday morning, an SUV ran three stop signs and careened into the corner of the home.

The damage is significant, with the entire laundry room turned to rubble and cracks present in the home’s ceiling throughout.

When the Dunavants’ insurance company rejected several repair estimates from the company’s own approved vendor, Dunavant said he hired a public adjuster.

In March, that adjuster pointed out that there may be a problem with the dust in the home. He determined the cracks in the ceiling were releasing asbestos and a family doctor ordered Justin and his family to vacate the home immediately.

            

The public adjuster also requested that the company send out a licensed adjuster, not a contractor, to look at the damages. They eventually did. However, the company that adjuster was working for was not licensed with the Texas Department of Insurance.

“What we’re finding is although most of the adjusters are licensed individually, a lot of the companies are not licensed at all,” said Shannon Loyd, the attorney representing Dunavant.

Loyd is also part of a non-profit group called Texas Policy Holder Advocates, whose mission is to help consumers fight their insurance company without having to hire an attorney.

WATCH: Advice to get your insurance claims paid

The group filed complaints with the Texas Department of Insurance on several adjusting firms it discovered were unlicensed but still adjusting claims on behalf of large insurance companies.

“When we started figuring out how many of these big companies weren’t even licensed, it was very surprising that no one seemed to be paying any attention to it,” said Loyd.

Channel 2 Investigates discovered that since 2014, TDI has received complaints of 10 unlicensed insurance adjusting firms.

READ: COMPLAINTS AGAINST UNLICENSED FIRMS

The agency did not fine any of the companies found to be conducting business without a license. Instead, it warned the firms asked that they get a license.

“In those 10 cases, it was a technical violation. There was no consumer harm,” said TDI representative Jerry Hagins.

[RELATED: Attorneys: Insurance carriers delaying, underpaying thousands of homeowner claims]

But Loyd said she fears without accountability the companies could be harming Texas policy holders.

“If they are not going to follow one area of the Texas insurance code, what makes me think they are going to follow the other part?” she said.

Consumers can look up an adjuster and an adjusting firm’s licensing information on TDI’s website. The agency also encourages consumers to file complaints.

Channel 2 Investigates would like to hear from any Texas insurance policy holder having a dispute with their insurance carrier.  Select “Investigates” in the tab of our contact form.

2016 Click2Houston.com/KPRC 2