CONSUMER ALERT: Know What You Are Signing for Repairs After Hurricane Irma
September 18, 2017/Tallahassee, Fla. – Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier is encouraging Floridians who are now dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and assessing damage to their homes and businesses to be aware of what they may be signing for repair work.
A homeowner who has a loss may contact a contractor, water extraction company, roofer, or a plumber to assist with emergency repairs. After assessing the damage, the homeowner may be presented with a document to sign before repair work begins, which could also contain what is known as an Assignment of Benefits (AOB). If signed by the homeowner, it may give the repair vendor the right to exclusively communicate with the insurance company, negotiate and endorse insurance claim payments and file a lawsuit against the insurance company, with or without the homeowners knowledge. AOBs have been a cost driver leading to rising homeowners insurance rates across the state due to unnecessary litigation associated with certain AOB claims.
“As Floridians return to their communities and begin the tedious process of evaluating damages to their homes and property following Irma, it is vital that they pay attention to any requests that may involve an AOB,” stated Commissioner Altmaier. “Homeowners are encouraged to file a claim directly with their insurance company to maintain control of the rights and benefits provided by their insurance policy in resolving a claim.”
The following are a few tips to assist homeowners:
- Read your insurance policy and know what your responsibilities are following a loss.
- Contact your insurance company prior to signing any document that may contain an AOB.
- If the homeowner elects to sign the AOB, read everything carefully and do not feel pressured to sign it.
- Beware of language that allows all proceeds of the claim to be made to anyone other than the homeowner or the homeowners mortgage company.
- Do not sign the document if there are any blank spaces.
Florida Office of Insurance Regulation FEMA/NFIP Announce Enhanced Claims Filing Process for Flood Insurance Policyholders Affected by Hurricane Irma
September 12, 2017/Tallahassee, Fla. – The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) is sharing guidance issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) addressing the claims process for its National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policyholders affected by Hurricane Irma. Five bulletins were issued on September 12th to applicable insurance companies and insurance adjusters with information on a variety of subjects.
A summary of the applicable information and links to each bulletin are provided below:
- Proof of Loss (POL) Waiver/Extension (Applicable to Standard Flood Insurance Policies) – The POL is waived for the initial claim payment. However, if the policyholder disputes the payment or submits a request for additional payment, they must file a POL with supporting documentation by one year from the date of loss.
- Advance Payments (Applicable to Standard Flood Insurance Policies) – The policyholder can request an advance payment of up to $5,000 for covered flood damages prior to the adjuster’s inspection. The policyholder may also request up to $20,000 prior to the adjuster’s inspection if they provide photographs along with receipts or canceled checks verifying covered out-of-pocket expenses or their contractor’s estimate of covered damages. After the adjuster’s inspection, the policyholder may request a larger advance payment of up to 50% of their contractor’s estimate of covered repairs.
- Enhanced Claim-Handling for Prior Loss and Contents Claims (Applicable to the Standard Flood Insurance Policy Dwelling Form Only) – The adjuster may group personal property by category. Also, where there is evidence of completed repairs to damage from prior flood losses, the NFIP is not requiring the adjuster to obtain the prior loss claim file before adjusting the claim.
- Extension of the Grace Period for Payment of NFIP Premiums – The 30-day grace period for premium receipt is changed to 120 days for policies expiring within a specified date range. Please review the bulletin for further details.
- Enhanced Claim-Handling Process for Building Losses Insured (Applicable to the Standard Flood Insurance Policy Dwelling Form & Group Flood Insurance Policies)– The adjuster may use a building valuation loss adjustment to support a large advance payment or if the policy limit is exceeded, conclude the claim in a timely manner.
For more information on the NFIP, visit their webpage at: https://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program. For additional resources, visit the OIR’s “Flood Insurance Resources” webpage at: http://www.floir.com/Sections/PandC/FloodInsurance/FloodInsurance.aspx.
About the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation
The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation has primary responsibility for regulation, compliance and enforcement of statutes related to the business of insurance and the monitoring of industry markets. For more information about the OIR, please visit www.floir.com or follow us on Twitter @FLOIR_comm and Facebook.