Bracing for Hurricane Ian, Know these Important Property Claim Steps
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Sept. 28, 2022) — As Hurricane Ian makes landfall on Florida’s Gulf Coast, communities in the storm’s path will feel the impacts far and wide and need immediate support and resources. With widespread damage to property imminent, the Personal Insurance Federation of Florida (PIFF) is urging Floridians to be aware of the important steps of an insurance claim and to be mindful of the Homeowner Bill of Rights Floridians have in the process.
“This is a dangerous and devastating storm, and the first priority is personal safety,” said Michael Carlson, president and CEO of PIFF. “Once homeowners are able to safely survey damage after a storm, it will be important to document that damage and begin the insurance claim process. Contact your insurer immediately and be sure to work with a verified repair contractor licensed by MyFloridaLicense.com.”
Providing records of belongings and their corresponding value through pictures or videos taken before the storm can help during the claims process and provides proof of losses for tax or disaster aid.
“Keep records of any temporary repair costs, relocation costs and conversations with your insurer, adjusters or anyone making repairs on your home,” added Carlson. “Homeowners are obligated to do what they can to mitigate losses after a storm. If you leave your house after a storm and don’t take steps to mitigate further damage, you may find yourself at a disadvantage when seeking reimbursement for those losses.”
Most insurance companies will cover the cost of temporary repairs to keep your property from suffering further damages. PIFF urges homeowners to always follow evacuation and safety guidelines during this process.
The Homeowner Claim Bill of Rights
Florida law includes several important insurance-related consumer protections. The Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights is considered the gold standard in terms of robust protections for consumers. An insurer issuing a personal lines residential property insurance policy must provide a Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights to a policyholder within 14 days after receiving an initial communication with respect to a claim, unless the claim follows an event that is the subject of a declaration of a state of emergency by the Governor.
View the Life of a Hurricane Claim infographic and Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights.
Homeowners have the right to receive from their insurance company an acknowledgment of the reported claim within 14 days after they have communicated the claim. Homeowners also have the right to receive within 30 days after submitting a complete proof-of-loss statement to their insurance company, confirmation that the claim is covered in full, partially covered, or denied, or to receive a written statement that the claim is being investigated.
“The Homeowner Claim Bill of Rights can help homeowners avoid potential roadblocks during their claims,” added Carlson. “It also offers guidance we want to help amplify. Contact your insurance company before entering into any contract for repairs, make and document emergency repairs that are necessary to prevent further damage, keep receipts, take photographs and confirm that the contractor you choose is licensed to do business in Florida. These steps help homeowners and insurers in the process of restoring affected communities.”
Avoid Unscrupulous Repair Vendors
Promising free roofs or other quick repairs after a storm, some vendors may state that signing an “assignment of benefits” (AOB) is the only way to resolve an insurance claim without delay. However, this is not required for work to begin, and the AOB will actually transfer all rights under the insurance policy from the homeowner to the vendor, leaving you completely removed from your own claim process. Legislation was passed in 2019 to curtail predatory tactics by some vendors, but Floridians should remain wary of any promise of free goods or services after a storm.
Floridians with questions or concerns about an insurance claim can contact the Department of Financial Services Consumer Hotline at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (877-693-5236) or via email at Consumer.Services@myfloridacfo.com.
Find more helpful links along with PIFF’s printable list of the top 20 Insurance Tips for Hurricane Season.
The Personal Insurance Federation of Florida, Inc. (PIFF), is a leading voice for the personal lines property and casualty insurance industry in Florida. PIFF represents national insurance carriers and their subsidiaries, including many of the state’s top writers of private passenger auto and homeowners multiperil insurance. Together, PIFF members write more than $13 billion in premium in the state. PIFF advocates for a healthy and competitive insurance marketplace for the benefit of Florida consumers. Follow us @PIFFNews. Visit PIFF.net to learn more.
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Allison Aubuchon, APR | 850.766.5255