HomeHome InsuranceFire Chasing May be Latest Iteration of Unscrupulous Tactics

Fire Chasing May be Latest Iteration of Unscrupulous Tactics

Fire chasing may be only the latest example of some public claims adjusters and contractors using aggressive and underhanded tactics to tap into property insurance payouts.

In hurricane-prone Florida, a state with more than its share of disasters and public adjuster challenges, Operation Rubicon famously exposed staged water damage claims. The multi-year investigation by the state Department of Financial Services and the Miami-Dade Police Department targeted water mitigation and restoration companies, as well as public adjusters, insurance agents, a police officer and as many as 25 homeowners.

The owner of a public adjusting firm, along with her father, her ex-husband and others allegedly bilked or attempted to bilk Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and other insurers out of more than $600,000.

According to state officials and court records, the operators would send a contractor to a home to create evidence of water damage. Insurance agents got involved, increasing coverage on homes or writing new policies at some point in the fraud, officials said. Nine people were charged in 2019 for alleged involvement; in 2022, two others were arrested.

Florida authorities have seen similar tactics by some roofing companies. A few have gone so far as to offer to inspect a roof, deliberately cause damage to the shingles, then tell the homeowners they need a new roof, courtesy of the insurance carrier. Four people were charged with fraud in December 2023 after a state investigation.

In 2022 and 2023, Florida lawmakers passed reforms to address widespread property claims abuse by barring assignment-of-benefit agreements, disincentivizing the litigation that often accompanied AOBs, and putting some limits on public adjusters.


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