Hurricane Irma has brought devastation throughout Florida, causing water, wind, and flood damage for numerous property owners. Many policyholders will start filing insurance claims as cleanup on their property begins. Here at Aftermath Adjusters, we want to make sure that home and business owners take the appropriate precautions while dealing with their insurance companies. We have provided the following steps to help you avoid insurance claim mistakes.
1. Contact Your Insurance Provider Immediately
In order to accelerate the benefits from your claim, let your insurance company know about the damage as soon as possible. Do not re-enter the property or check on the damage until it is safe to do so.
2. Wait To Make Any Repairs
One of the biggest insurance claim mistakes comes in the form of repairs. Refrain from doing emergency or permanent repairs until the damage is documented by you or the adjuster. Once documentation has been taken care of, you can begin to prevent further damage from happening. In fact, you are required to do so as stated in your insurance policy. However, do not throw out any damaged items or materials until the insurance adjuster has inspected everything. This way, your insurance company will be aware of the full scale of the damage, and you will get the most out of your insurance claim.
3. Ask For the Adjuster’s Credentials
Due to the widespread destruction from large-scale storms like Hurricane Irma, there is a greater need for claims adjusters. As a result, insurance adjusters may be brought in from all over. This could mean that they might be new and quickly trained, or not aware of Florida law. Therefore, make sure to check their credentials to avoid insurance claim mistakes.
4. DO NOT Sign Over Your Claim to a Restoration Company or Contractor
This is often referred to as “Assignment of Benefits.” You can use a restoration company, but make sure to look over the contractor’s Work Authorization Form. You can let them clean up, but don’t allow them to begin any repair work until you get approval from your insurance provider. Also, be sure that the insurance payment is going directly to you and not your contractor. Any contract you sign should be for emergency services ONLY, and your insurance adjuster should agree to pay for them IN WRITING. If not, you could be handing your claim directly to the contractor without seeing a nickel of it.
5. The “10 and 10”
Keep in mind that all repair estimates need to include an additional 10% for overhead and 10% for contractor profit. That extra 20% is standard for all estimates. You will be able to see it on the totals page of your insurance estimate under the “10 and 10.”
6. A Contractor Cannot Handle Your Entire Claim
Even though some contractors may say they can, it is against the law for Florida contractors to negotiate an insurance claim for you. They can only offer an estimate to the insurance company. Attorneys and public adjusters are the only ones licensed to negotiate claims and help you from making insurance claim mistakes.
7. Personal Belongings
Do not let a restoration company take any items from your property until you have a detailed list of them. Document the process by taking pictures. Be aware that you will be charged storage fees. Some items can be restored, but others that have mold may be cheaper to replace than clean. Keep in mind that cleaning and storage costs will reduce your coverage amounts and policy limits.
8. File Your Claim Quickly
The sooner you file your claim the better. This way the insurance company knows you have damages and can assess as quickly as possible. Again, claims are handled on a first come first serve basis. Waiting to file your claim, especially after 60 days, could bring repercussions including but not limited to unnecessary delays. For this reason, file your claim and respond promptly to insurer inquiries as soon as possible.
If you have experienced property damage caused by Hurricane Irma and have insurance questions, give us a call at 954-329-2456. Our licensed insurance claim professionals here at Aftermath Adjusters are happy to help answer any questions you may have and help you avoid insurance claim mistakes.