To be considered for membership, persons must be licensed by the Florida Department of Financial Services and adhere to the FAPIA Code of Ethics. To be considered for associate membership, a person must be employed by a company or firm engaged in the business which serves the best interests of Insured Floridians and not that of insurance companies.
FAPIA headquarters are in Maitland, Florida and the association employs an Administrative Director and has paid Lobbyists in Tallahassee to protect the interests of the industry and the Insured.
For more information, please visit our FAQs section.
The Association’s History - by Ray Altieri
On August 24, 1992, Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida with a vengeance. For weeks and months later, public insurance adjusters from all over the country poured into South Florida. Many of these public adjusters were qualified professionals. Some were neither.
What Public Adjusters Did To Themselves
Public adjuster horror stories were becoming the story of the day and the insurance industry was bound and determined to do something about them. Most of the problems were caused by out of state public adjusters. Unfortunately, we Florida licensed public adjusters (there were just a handful of us) were about to feel the wrath of the State Legislature and Department of Insurance, due to the actions of our misguided, out of state, brethren.
Department of Insurance Reaction
As far as the governmental entities were concerned, we were all bad! They didn’t know us, but they KNEW they didn’t like us! Bureaucrats, at the highest level of the DOI, were clueless as to our function and purpose. Insurance Commissioner, Tom Gallagher (1st Term), was doing commercials regularly on television and radio, in Miami, telling people not to hire public adjusters. The DOI began distributing official bulletins negatively defining public adjusters and cautioning the public if they chose to use a public adjuster. The National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA) pressured our DOI and as a result, emergency licensing of out of state public adjusters was granted. However, to obtain emergency licensure, an applicant would be required to post a bond, work under a supervising Florida Licensed public adjuster, provide a Letter of Good Standing from their home state, and just for good measure-the applicant was required to be sponsored by any one of the following who worked in Florida exclusively: an insurance agent, an independent adjuster, or an insurance company executive. It took months for applications to be approved and then after approval, an “administrative processing fee” penalized many of the same P.A.’s. The DOI was in disarray! Shortly thereafter, legislation was introduced to put public adjusters out of business.
FAPIA: The Idea Is Conceived
In December of 1992, NAPIA had moved its Mid-Year Convention to Miami in an effort to accommodate its members who were working in South Florida. The DOI’s Agency Director had come to the meeting as a guest speaker. He warned the entire organization of impending doom for public adjusting in Florida once the next Legislative session opened in a few short months. After this gentleman spoke, Ray Altieri’s partner (at the time) and long time public adjuster, Jerry Levin, of Utica, New York, came to him while he was talking with attorney, William “Chip” Merlin and suggested that we were going to need a state public adjusters association to fight this off. Immediately, they went to work. We contacted all of Florida’s PA’s and attorney Doug Grose. We set a meeting for all Florida Public Adjusters in Orlando.
FAPIA: The Inaugural Meeting
The inaugural meeting took place in February 1993 at the Marriott World Center in Orlando. At dinner the night before the meeting, Chip and Doug, as our legal advisors, proposed a slate of Officers, which was to be voted on the next day by the public adjusters who were in attendance. Raymond A. Altieri, Jr. of Tampa was nominated as the organization’s first President, Steven Lesser of Miami Beach as President –Elect, Stephen Sarasohn of Boca Raton as Vice President, Chuck Howarth of Tampa as Treasurer, and Allan Brodsky of Hollywood as Secretary. The Directors were James Toukatly of Orlando, Craig Tanner of Clearwater, Ron Livingstone of Orlando, and Ira Sarasohn of Boca Raton. Competing public adjusters began to work together for the common good. By the next morning the slate was voted on and accepted. As President, Ray used NAPIA as an organizational model and employed a similar system for FAPIA. It remains in place today. The Board of Directors went forward with three major themes:
FAPIA Meets With The Department of Insurance
FAPIA was armed with one strategy. As coined by Chip Merlin, “We must approach on the side of Angels”. Testify from the perspective of what eliminating PA’s would mean to the public, not us! Many of the PA’s named above and others, testified in front of the General Counsel of the DOI on this very issue. We were successful! We were invited to participate in the writing of new legislation. They accepted our work almost verbatim. During this same period and in addition to fighting for our lives to do first party property work, we had to overcome a competing group of PA’s who formed FAPA (Florida Association of Public Adjusters). This group was trying to fight for the “right” to do liability and bodily injury adjusting as an alternative to attorneys! NO WAY!! We separated ourselves greatly from FAPA, we showed the DOI that we would support aggressive and responsible regulation as an industry, and most of all we gained credibility as a new organization with top management personnel at the DOI. WE WERE ALIVE!
FAPIA Moves Forward In It’s First Decade
Armed with newly earned credibility at the DOI, FAPIA flourished. New challenges came and went through sacrifice of time and money by many of the Charter Members. First name basis relationships were established with DOI Division Directors. New proposed Rules and Legislation came forward and the DOI actively sought our input and opinions. FAPIA’s language was inserted into new Bills involving PA’s. The Tallahassee Mid-Year Meeting tradition was established to coincide with the annual Legislative Session to keep us in front of Senators, Representatives, and the DOI. Negative legislation slowed for a period, which allowed FAPIA to turn inward.
By–Law Revisions were made in 2000 to help conform to organizational growth. An Officer’s Ladder was created to send experienced members to the Presidency. FAPIA enhanced its professionalism by developing a website and hiring an Administrator, a Lobbyist, and a CPA firm to assist the organization in its affairs. Through the personal sacrifices of some, our entire association benefits. FAPIA through the hard work of Charter Members and Past Presidents such as Mark Boardman, Kimberly Pope, and Dale McCrory continue to achieve results. Mark is responsible for spearheading FAPIA’s advancement of the industry’s professionalism through Continuing Education and political interaction. Kimberly works hard to obtain Continuing Education credits from the Department of Financial Services for FAPIA’s members. Dale McCrory has almost single-handedly been responsible for all arrangements surrounding our conventions since FAPIA’s inception.
FAPIA has also gained recognition beyond the DOI, as many of its members became members of the Windstorm Network with Dick Tutwiler becoming that organization’s President and Steve Lesser and Jim Toukatly voted to its Board of Directors. NAPIA also has repeatedly recognized FAPIA as the largest and best State public adjusting association in the country. For its efforts to further the cause of public adjusting FAPIA has also been rewarded through NAPIA, by it’s voting of Raymond A. Altieri, Jr. to its Officer’s Ladder, where he will become NAPIA’s President in 2011. FAPIA’s growth has been outstanding. Our first meetings would attract 20 to 30 PA’s. Today, at our meetings, we exceed 250 members. That’s a testimony to the hard work of all.
FAPIA Today And The Future
In spite of all of the good news, we still find ourselves struggling to be free of excessive regulation. A minority of Florida public adjusters continues to be a menace to our profession. Certain PA’s either skirt the edges of the Rules and Regulations or blow right through them. This causes the Insurance Lobby to introduce broad reactive and restrictive legislation that the DFS, at times, appears all too anxious to employ.
All Florida Licensed public adjusters must come to understand the Codes of Conduct and Ethics, as well as the Rules and Regulations, which govern the profession.
This is NOT a suggestion, but a mandate.
We may never gain complete acceptance by the insurance companies, nor should we try. However, only through our daily conduct will we raise the bar towards broad recognition that we do make a difference in the lives of our clients. We should strive to make that difference with honor, character, and a sense of pride for who we are and what we do.
Join FAPIA today! Come seek professional education and join in camaraderie with a truly skilled and dedicated group of professionals.