Florida’s homeowners insurance marketplace continues to remain volatile. Even with Insurance Reform - Senate Bill 76 becoming law on July 1, 2021, relief from fraud and frivolous lawsuits will not arrive until 2022. This instability makes it more important than ever to understand when, if, and how to file a homeowners insurance claim. Filing a claim for the wrong reasons or when there is no coverage, can count against you and impede your chances of securing coverage in the future.
Step #1 - Call your carrier first
If you are not sure whether to file a claim or not, calling your carrier's claims department first can certainly help you arrive at a decision. Before filing a claim, your carrier may suggest you evaluate the following policy details.
1. Deductible – If the damage you wish to claim is less than the policy deductible, do not file a claim. Doing so will lead to “denial” and will count as a reported claim and may possibly damage your “insurance score”. Insurance scores are provided by independent companies such as Lexis Nexus and represent the likelihood of an individual filing an insurance claim.
Note: In the event of a Hurricane claim, your claim should be reported even if it is under the deductible, as the hurricane deductible is applied to the entire season, not just a specific storm.
2. Wear & Tear – Should your loss be the direct result of routine wear & tear or a lack of maintenance issue, the claim will be denied. Homeowners Insurance only covers sudden, and accidental losses.
3. Not a Covered Loss - Filing a claim when there is no coverage will impact your insurance risk score and possibly the ability to secure alternate coverage in the future. Review your policy to ensure there is coverage.
4. Intentional Acts – In the event you or a family member engages in an intentional act to destroy or cause damage to your home, the claim will not be covered by your homeowner carrier.
Step #2 – Reporting the Claim
When reporting a claim have as much information on hand as possible and be prepared to provide the following details:
1.Date of Loss – This is the date the loss occurred or the date you first noticed the damage.
2. Loss Severity – Your carrier will need to determine the severity of the loss for their records and to assign the appropriate adjuster to survey the damage. This requires the claim’s representative to ask a series of questions regarding the loss, which must be answered to the best of your ability.
3.Contact Information – Provide updated home and mobile phone information along with an active email address as you will be contacted by an adjuster to schedule an appointment to access the damage to your home.
Step #3 – What to Expect
In the event your home suffers a water loss and emergency water restoration/mitigation services are required to dry out your home, your carrier may recommend an approved/preferred vendor to immediately assist with the drying out process and to prevent further damage from occurring. While this process is occurring in your home, follow these steps to document your loss:
1. Photos – A picture is worth a thousand words, and such is the case when filing a claim. If safe to do so, take photos of all damages for your adjuster to review.
2. Receipts – If in the claims process you make repairs to mitigate any damages, maintain those receipts on hand as your adjuster will need them prior to settling the claim.
3. Communication – Conversation with your adjuster to answer questions and provide information is vital to a quick settlement.
4. Settlement Offer – Should it be determined the loss is covered by your homeowner’s policy; a settlement offer will follow. Review the settlement offer with your adjuster and address any concerns prior to agreeing on the offer.
For many, the claims process can be intimidating however, it does not have to be if you call your carrier first and take the time to evaluate the best options. As a leader in Florida’s homeowners insurance marketplace, Florida Peninsula Insurance Company is dedicated to standing by its policyholders. We offer unique comprehensive coverage options to meet the needs of residents from Destin to Miami, with a team of dedicated and experienced claims professionals to see policyholders through any storm or loss which may come their way. Visit our website to find an agent near you and ask for a quote with Florida Peninsula Insurance Company.
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