The Florida Department of Financial Services released a statement saying that Mary Bruce, an unlicensed insurance adjuster has been arrested after filing fraudulent liens on the homes of individuals affected by Hurricane Irma.
According to the statement, Bruce allegedly stole $14,000 from homeowners in the weeks following Hurricane Irma’s landfall in September 2017. Department of Financial Services investigators report that Bruce was falsely identifying herself as a claims manager to homeowners across central Florida and to roofing companies. She is accused of convincing some homeowners that if the homeowner would sign a document assigning Bruce as Power of Attorney, she could increase their insurance claims settlements by as much as $30,000.
Once the document was signed, Bruce filed and adjusted claim with the homeowner’s insurance provider that doubled the original cost estimates that were previously submitted. If an insurance provider denied the adjusted claim, Bruce would place a lien on the property.
According to the statement, Bruce’s bond was set at $5,000 after she was arrested and booked into Volusia County Jail on charges of filing a false and fraudulent lien and operating as an unlicensed public adjuster. If convicted Bruce could face up to a decade in prison.
How You Can Stay Safe
Hurricane victims, and any home or business owner who is dealing with damage from a natural disaster must be aware that scammers are everywhere. They often crawl out of the woodwork after a disaster to take advantage of homeowners who want nothing more than to get back to normal as quickly as possible.
To protect yourself from scammers there are several things you can do:
- If you suspect you are the victim of a scam, or that scammers are working in your neighborhood contact your state insurance fraud bureau.
- Beware of adjusters that are going from door to door. If they show up at your home claiming to be an adjuster, ask them for their company ID, and then call the company to ensure their credentials are valid. If they do not have a valid company ID, ask them to leave your property and contact your state insurance fraud department.
- Do not give any information to an adjuster before you have confirmed whom they work for.
- Do not sign away any rights to your adjuster.
- Do not give an insurance adjuster money. The only way you should have to pay an adjuster is if you contact them and hire them to inspect the damage and help file your claim. Do research, talk to your neighbors, and research the Better Business Bureau for any complaints.
- In fact, never pay for anything related to your storm damage with cash. Create a paper trail by only paying with checks or your credit card.
We Can Help
If your home or business sustained damage in Hurricane Irma and you are trying to deal with claim denials, delayed payments, partial payments, or if your claim was low-balled, contact us today. We don’t let insurance providers play games with hurricane damage claims, and we use every legal measure available to ensure you get the maximum compensation available for the damage you sustained.