For Florida residents interested in obtaining or learning more about the Florida expert license, it may be helpful to unpack and simplify the multitude of license categories and types available. This will help provide the most efficient path to getting exactly what you want with the most direct means available.
At the broadest level, there are three general Florida expert licensing categories: the 6 Series, the 5 Series, and the 3 Series.
The 6 Series – Company Adjuster Licenses
The 6 series refers to license types held by business experts. What is a business expert? The Florida Dept. of Financial Services defines a business expert as “any person employed on the staff of experts of an insurer or a wholly owned subsidiary of the insurer”. In other words, an employee of an insurance company – a “staff” adjuster as the position is sometimes referred to. And to qualify for this license type, you must of course be employed by a company. The following 6 series types, detailed below, are available: 6-20, 6-44, 6-21, 6-24.
The 5 Series – Independent Controller Licenses
The 5 series refers to license types held by independent experts. Independent valuers are valuers who are “self-employed or associated with or employed by an independent valuer or other independent valuer”. Note that an independent surveyor can be an employee, but as long as you are an employee of a surveyor rather than directly of an insurance company, you are still considered an independent. Most experts interested in handling that particularly lucrative type of claims due to catastrophic events (e.g. Hurricane Wilma) would look for one of the 5 Series licenses. Also noteworthy, unlike the 6 Series, you don’t have to be employed or have a contract for work at the time you apply for the permit. Like the 6 Series, the following types are available: 5-20, 5-44, 5-21, 5-24 (detailed explanation of each below).
The 3 Series – Public Richter License
The 3 series refers to license types held by public experts. Public appraisers differ categorically from corporate or independent appraisers in that they represent the insured rather than the insurer. FLDFS defines a public controller as follows:
…any person who prepares, completes or submits an insurance claim form for money, commission or anything of value for an insured or third party claimant or who acts or assists in any way on behalf of an insured for money, commission or anything of value or third party claimant in negotiating or effecting a settlement of a claim or claims for loss or damage covered by an insurance contract or who advertises work as a claims adjuster, and includes any person who, for money, commission or anything otherwise of value, requests, investigates or adjusts such claims on behalf of such public expert.
Public expert licenses and license compliance are handled differently than corporate and independent licenses and specifically require you to be bound before being licensed. At the time of writing, you must complete a one-year internship (license type T31-20) and then pass the state exam to earn a full 3-series license.
Since the 3 Series licenses are a different breed, we will be trading exclusively with the 5 and 6 Series licenses from now on. Let’s look at the types:
All lines: 6-20, 5-20
The 6-20 and 5-20 are both All-Lines licenses. All-Lines is exactly what it sounds like – every line of insurance. The 5-20 Independent and 6-20 Company All-Lines licenses qualify you to handle the full range of Auto, Property & Casualty, & Workers Compensation claims.
Property and Accidents: 6-44, 5-44
The -44s refer to the Property & Casualty Adjuster license types. Property & Casualty includes residential and commercial property and liability claims but excludes Auto, Health and Workers Comp.
Automatic: 6-21, 5-21
The -21s refer to car and specific motor vehicle physical damage and mechanical breakdown. If you intend to focus solely on handling vehicle damage claims due to accidents and weather conditions (e.g. hail), then this is your license.
Workers Comp: 6-24, 5-24
The -24s refer to adjusting Workers’ Comp claims. Workers’ Comp adjusters determine benefits awarded to workers injured in the workplace.
Which Florida License Should You Get and How?
First determine the sequence. If you just joined an insurance company as a salaried employee, just follow their example for which 6 series license to apply for. However, if you’re looking to break into the independent side and whether or not you’re employed or contracted to work as such, look for something in the 5 Series. There is no reason not to apply for your 5-20 expert license as it is just as easy to obtain as the 5-44, 5-21 or 5-24. It gives you the greatest flexibility to find your claims niche without limits.
If you first obtain a 5 Series license and then obtain full-time employment status with an insurance company, you can transfer your licensure to the 6 Series through a relatively simple process that requires no further research or coursework.
What it comes down to: Whichever of the 5- or 6-series licenses you choose, there are several Florida-approved designations (online or classroom) that allow you to gain immediate licensure without further testing or coursework. Such designations are usually the quickest and surest way to get the right Florida expert license for you.