BOSTON – Under the leadership of State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D- Pittsfield), the Massachusetts Senate engrossed S. 435, An Act relative to the licensure of insurance adjusters in the Commonwealth during Thursday’s legislative session.
Downing authored this legislation after meeting with Deb Mennett, a Stockbridge resident whose home was significantly damaged by ice dams during the winter of 2010. After 25 years of paying her homeowners’ insurance premiums without ever filing a claim, Ms. Mennett called her insurer. A young adjuster was dispatched to her home to review the situation. It was clearly apparent that this adjuster lacked proper training when he suggested she remove structural supports in her home.
Ms. Mennett endured a two-and-a-half year litigation battle to recoup the $125,000 she invested to repair the damages, more than 10 times what the novice adjuster estimated the cost to be.
Currently the Commonwealth is one of only 16 states that do not license insurance claims adjusters who work for private insurance companies. Insurance adjusters must have extensive knowledge of building and construction materials, environmental hazards, how to repair damages and also be fluent in insurance regulations and principles. The intent of S. 435 is to ensure adjusters working on behalf of insurance companies in Massachusetts possess the necessary skillset and knowledge to accurately assess damages.
Downing’s legislation creates a system of licensure for insurance adjusters working on behalf of private insurance companies in Massachusetts to ensure proper training and certification. Applicants must be 21 years of age; must pass an approved written examination; and must complete 15 hours of continuing education for each 3-year renewal.
“The terrible situation described by Deb Mennett is unfortunately not unique,” said Downing. “More than 9,500 insurance related complaints were received by the state Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation and the Division of Insurance in 2013. I hope implementation of this legislation will protect homeowners from additional costly, unprofessional and inaccurate damage assessments.”
Downing’s legislation, which received favorable recommendations from the Joint Committee on Financial Services and the Senate Committee on Ways & Means, will now advance to the House of Representatives for review and consideration.
Deb Mennett, who has traveled to Beacon Hill to testify on this matter, plans to continue her advocacy on S. 435 throughout the legislative session.