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The first step in the claims process is to contact your insurance agent. If that is not feasible then you should contact your carrier directly. It is important to have these phone numbers in your important papers as more than likely there will be a loss of power, and you won’t be able find the contact information on line.

Most insurance policies do not put a specific time limit on how long you may take after an incident before you file your claim. Most policies state that claims should be filed “promptly” or “as soon as possible,” but that is usually not further clarified. Each company has different requirements, and that’s why it’s important to know before a catastrophe strikes.

FEMA requires a document called Proof of Loss for flood claims. This form must be fully completed, signed and in the hands of the insurance company within 60 days after the loss occurs along with supporting documents or your claim could be denied!

Many homeowners are surprised when their settlement check also has their mortgage company’s name on it. Your bank will demand that forms be filled out before funds are released, often in stages as work is completed. There may be inspections of the work, and—of course—extra bank fees.

If you have a mortgage, be prepared for extra steps to get your payment. After you file your claim, contact your mortgage company to find out how to get the settlement check endorsed and deposited to your or the lender’s escrow account.

The contractor will usually not play any role in the claim process unless you sign an assignment of benefits (AOB).

Assignment of benefits (AOB) is a legal tool that allows a third party to be paid for services performed for an insured homeowner who would normally be reimbursed by the insurance company directly after making a claim. AOB is commonly used when a homeowner contacts a contractor or water remediation company for assistance following a non-storm related water loss, such as a leaky pipe or an overflow from a plumbing fixture or appliance.

Most AOB agreements presented to the homeowner allow the contractor to stand in the shoes of the homeowner for insurance collection purposes. Some argue that this legal arrangement allows unscrupulous contractors to over-inflate or submit improper claims, causing legal battles between the contractor and the insurance company, with the consumer left out of the picture.

How do I appeal my claim?

You can appeal the claim directly to the insurance company. If that does not prove satisfactory, then you can contact the Florida Division of Consumer Services (DCS) at 877-693-5236 or by email at Consumer.Services@myfloridacfo.com.

Insurance companies, by statute, have 20 days to respond to the DCS once a complaint has been filed.

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