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Bill could affect public adjusters and those who need their help

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Shelly Keller’s house was demolished in the 2013 Moore tornado.

“The house was picked up, turned, moved, put back down,” Keller said. “There’s just stuff everywhere.  You don’t even know where to begin.”

Keller turned to a public adjuster to help her through the process.

“She helped us through, from the paperwork to knowing who to call, what to call, we need a structural engineer – what’s that?” said Keller.

But a bill making its way through the capitol could threaten someone’s ability to have that advocate.

“We need help.  And this bill’s saying no one can have help,” said Keller.

“People should have the right to be able to have an adjuster that works on their behalf.  The insurance company has an adjuster that works on their behalf,” said public adjuster, Alice Young, with Brown O’Haver Adjusters for the Insured.

Young says the bill would only allow a consumer to hire a public adjuster after a claim is settled.

She says that would be too late. And it imposes extreme fee caps, something that Young says could put her small business under.

“It would eliminate anybody being able to do the job at all.  It would be practically impossible,” said Young.

The Oklahoma Insurance Department proposed the bill after they said they were seeing complaints against public adjusters.

“We kind of started to see a pattern of people kind of being taken advantage of by unscrupulous public adjusters,” said Buddy Combs, Director of Public Policy and Assistant General Counsel for the Insurance Department.

But after a meeting with public adjusters Tuesday afternoon, Combs says some things in the bill may change.

“I think the bill’s going to change as we go forward and I think we can get to a place we can all agree,” said Combs.

Keller has now been in her beautiful new home for about 9 months.

But she says without the public adjuster, they would probably still be fighting their insurance company.

Young says the commitment by the insurance department to rework the language of the bill is positive, but that the bill as it stands is still not acceptable to Oklahoma consumers.

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