Following the landfall of Hurricane Matthew, many Floridians are now beginning the process of notifying their insurance carrier of damaged property and items and taking steps to make temporary repairs to prevent additional damage. The State of Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier, and Insurance Consumer Advocate Sha’Ron James encourage Floridians to be prompt in notifying their insurance companies and cautious of repair deals that sound too good to be true.
They offer the following information to consumers who are navigating the insurance claims process:
• Notify your insurance company first. Many insurance companies have reporting deadlines, so it is important to act quickly. Take steps to make temporary repairs that prevent further damage, but remain in contact with your insurance company regarding any outside vendors that are brought in to make repairs. If you need help locating contact information for your insurance company, click here to access the Office of Insurance Regulation’s directory.
• While making temporary repairs, obtain the licensing or training credentials of all third-party vendors before signing any work agreements. Beware of fly-by-night repair companies and hire only licensed and reputable vendors. Use the Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Contractor License lookup to make sure all contractors are properly licensed and bonded. Access DBPR’s licensee search here.
o Fully review all documentation you are asked to sign and ask questions to make sure you understand the agreements you are signing. Ask specifically who is responsible for paying the vendor, you as the consumer, or your insurance company.
• If considering the assistance of a public insurance adjuster, ask for identification to verify that the adjuster is licensed. To verify the license of any Florida insurance agent or adjuster, use the Department of Financial Service’s licensee search here.
o Understand how much a public insurance adjuster charges as well as what services are included before signing any contract.
• If you suspect fraud or suspicious activity, call the Department of Financial Services, Division of Consumer Services Insurance Consumer Helpline immediately at 1-877-693-5236. Your concerns will be promptly referred to insurance fraud investigators.
Consumers who have questions about their insurance coverage are encouraged to call CFO Atwater’s Department of Financial Services, Division of Consumer Services Insurance Consumer Helpline at 1-877-693-5236. Insurance experts will be available on Saturday, October 8, and Sunday, October 9, starting at 8:00am EST to answer consumer questions and to aid consumers with filing insurance claims.
This helpline can also help consumers to gain contact information for their insurance company and help to verify the license of an insurance agent or adjuster. For additional consumer resources, visit http://www.myfloridacfo.com/Division/Consumers/hurricanematthew.htm