Tallahassee, Fla. — As Tropical Storm Emily passed through Southern and Central Florida bringing winds and several inches of rain, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) today offered recovery advice to Floridians in assessing the damage to their properties and contacting their insurers. PCI also encouraged caution when hiring some contractors for fear of recent fraudulent schemes.
“In the aftermath of Tropical Storm Emily, PCI encourages Floridians to take a thorough approach in assessing their property damage, whether it be to their home, business or automobile,” said Logan McFaddin, PCI Florida regional manager. “If you have any damage, contact your insurance company or agent as soon as possible to file a claim.”
PCI encourages Floridians to review the following tips and information if storm loss has occurred.
Storm Recovery Tips:
- Secure property from further damage or theft.
- Contact your insurance agent or company representative as soon as possible to report damage.
- Inventory losses and photograph damage to provide to your insurance adjustor. Save receipts.
- If you are a business owner, keep detailed records of business activity that is negatively affected due to the tornado or storm and keep a list of extra expenses during the interruption. Prepare records to show the income from the business before and after the loss.
- Many standard homeowners and renters’ policies provide reimbursement of additional living expenses when the property is determined to be uninhabitable due to damage. This provision helps with paying for increases to necessary living expenses, such as temporary housing and restaurant meals. In addition, extra expenses, such as overnight parking and laundry services may also be covered. Additional living expense coverage does not pay for all living expenses, so contact your insurance company or agent for a list of what your policy will cover.
- Be careful about unscrupulous contractors following a natural disaster. Contact your insurer, agent, or local business bureau for references on potential contractors and ask for certificates of liability and workers’ compensation before signing contracts.
Business Recovery Information:
- In the aftermath of natural disasters, businesses should take immediate steps to minimize damage, speed up the claims process and accelerate business recovery. Assess the damage and report all damage to your insurance company agent as soon as possible.
- Take pictures of your building and contents to document the damage.
- Check for safety hazards, such as downed trees, branches, downed power wires and leaking gas.
- Keep all receipts for anything purchased for that purpose so they can be submitted to your insurance company.
- Be prepared to list the “replacement cost” of each item and its actual cash value. Replacement cost is what it would cost today to replace an item with another one just like it. Actual cash value is what the item is really worth after deducting for depreciation and wear.
- Restore your utilities, phone service, gas lines and other important links as soon as possible.
- Business interruption coverage is complex and will vary by insurers. It is important to read your policy and understand what is and is not covered.
- As you seek contractors to make repairs, deal only with reliable, licensed professionals. Get written bids from the contractor, but don’t sign any contracts or give a deposit until you have seen your insurance adjuster.
- If you or your employees get involved in clean-up efforts, use safety items like proper eyewear, gloves, hardhats, dust masks and respirators.
- Keep detailed records of business activity and extra expenses during the interruption period, and prepare records to show the income from the business both before and after the loss.
“Beware of unscrupulous contractors following the storm. PCI highly recommends contacting your insurer, agent or local business bureau for references and asking for certificates of liability and workers’ compensation before signing any contracts with contractors to perform repair work on your home, business or automobile. It is unfortunate, but there is a real problem right now, especially in South Florida, with people preying on the most vulnerable following a storm, which leads to Floridians paying the ultimate price to the tune of lawsuits and potentially higher rates,” added McFaddin.
In fact, according to the Florida Justice Reform Institute report, from 2010 to 2016, total assignment of benefits lawsuits grew from about 25,000 to more than 100,000 – an increase of nearly 300 percent.
In South Florida’s tri-county area, some policyholders insured by state-run Citizens could see their annual home insurance costs skyrocket from about $9,000 in 2016 to nearly $16,000 by 2022 – an increase of nearly 80 percent in 7 years.
To learn more about assignment of benefits scams, PCI encourages Floridians to visit www.Fightfraud.today.
For information on storm readiness, please refer to: