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Public Adjuster Steals a Court Settlement

Below is an article that illustrates some of the corruptness of hiring a public adjuster. Aside from whatever the insurance company may have done, the public adjuster really didn’t make it better. If there really was bad handling of the claim, they should have gone straight to an attorney. Remember that a public adjuster has no legal authority. They have just as much legal authority as the average homeowner.

Beware The Public Adjuster Before Filing A Bad Faith Claim
By Andrew J. Kennedy


The recent case Richard and Tina-Marie Collier v. Jeffrey Balzer Public Adjusters there is a lesson in
the dangers of hiring a public adjuster and then hiring a lawyer to file an insurance bad faith
claim. The case is a non-precedential case issued on July 15, 2016 by the Pennsylvania Superior

Homeowners hire a public adjuster
In 2011 a tornado damaged the Plaintiff’s home and their insurer, Homesite Insurance Company
paid the homeowners $95,000 for damages to the home. They were not satisfied so they hired a
public adjuster, Jeffrey Balzer to assist them. Balzer obtained an additional $165,000 for them.
They were still unsatisfied, so they hired a lawyer. The lawyer filed a bad faith claim in the
Westmoreland County Court of Common pleas under Section 8371.

It is not clear what the bad faith was, but it was obviously was serious because in September of
2013, the insurance carrier agreed to pay an additional $1, 050,000 to settle the coverage and bad
faith claims. Given that the policy had a limit of $462,600, the settlement clearly related to bad
faith, and not just the coverage action.

Now enter Balzer. Upon hearing of the $1 million settlement, he sent an invoice for 20% of the
entire $1 million settlement. The homeowners agreed to pay him 20% of the amount attributed to
the homeowner’s policy, but not attributable to the carrier’s bad faith. He disagreed and the
matter went to court.

In other words, the public adjuster had a contract which provided that he was entitled to 20% of
the amount recovered. In the end, he argued that he was entitled to 20% of monies that the
homeowners recovered before he was involved, and also 20% of the amounts recovered after the
case was turned over the lawyers for litigation.

The suit involving the public adjuster went before a judge in Allegheny County and he found that
the adjuster was only entitled to 20% of the recovery from property damaged by the tornado.
This appears to allow the adjuster to gain 20% of the amount recovered, even if the adjuster did
not cause the recovery. The Court though, would not let the adjuster obtain a recovery for the bad
faith claim.

Given this case, policyholders should be wary in dealing with public adjuster’s contracts. When
they hire a public adjuster, policyholders should make it clear that they will only pay a public
adjuster for recovery obtained by the adjuster–not monies previously obtained by the
policyholder without any help, nor monies obtained after they have to hire a law firm.