What Are the 5 Basic Steps in the Cycle of an Insurance Claim in Florida?

Every year, hundreds of thousands of home and business owners in Florida file insurance claims. For many of those, it’s an unnerving time filled with stress. Part of that is natural. It stems from dealing with serious or catastrophic damage to a home or business. However, part of it is also due to a lack of familiarity with the insurance claim cycle and the process in Florida. 

In this post, we’ll cover the four basic steps in the cycle of an insurance claim in Florida so that you can understand how things work, and we’ll also discuss a couple of other issues that every home and business owner in the state should know when it comes to property insurance claims.

The Insurance Situation in Florida

Florida – the Sunshine State – is home to sunny, warm weather, stunning beaches, and swaying palm trees. It’s also one of the most dangerous states in which to live or do business, at least where property damage is concerned. 

According to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, there were 955,852 residential property claims related to Hurricane Irma in 2017 alone. ABC News reports that Hurricane Ian in 2022 led to over 520,000 property claims, which is still climbing. 

Those numbers only account for claims related to those named storms. They don’t include homes and businesses damaged by severe thunderstorms, hail, tornadoes, or other threats. That adds up to numerous people seeking help from their insurance companies yearly.

The 4 Basic Steps in the Cycle of an Insurance Claim in Florida

Whether you’re dealing with damage to the structure of your home or your business, the overall insurance claim in Florida process is pretty similar. We’ve broken things down into four simple steps below, and we’ll cover some other need-to-know information afterward.

Step 1: Evaluation of Your Coverage

The first step is to evaluate your coverage. Every policy is unique, so it’s important to take a deep dive into your documentation to make sure that your policy actually covers the damage you’ve sustained. Some of the most common exclusions are:

  • Flood damage – This is a big one because if your home or business is located in a coastal area of a flood zone, there’s a perfect chance that major storms could cause flooding and flood-related damage. All or part of your claim may not be covered in this case. Most insurance policies do not cover flood damage. Instead, you must take out separate flood coverage.
  • Mold – Mold is not usually covered by insurance, although if it is caused by a “covered peril,” your insurer may cover mold damage. Even then, coverage is usually minimal. Most insurers also exclude related damage from dry or wet rot and rust.
  • Pet damage – Any damage to your structure caused by aggressive pets is not covered by your insurance policy.
  • Neglect – If your insurer believes damage to your home or business results from neglect/poor management, that damage will not be covered. 
  • Wind and hail – Typically, wind and hail are covered perils in most US states. However, states that are prone to severe storms (like Florida) may have wind and hail exclusions. You’ll need to check your policy for the specifics. Even if wind and hail are covered, your insurer may stipulate that only certain types of storms or a certain amount of damage is covered. 

Step #2: Contact Your Agent or Insurer

Once you’ve understood your coverage, it’s time to reach out for help. Contact your agent (if you have one) or your insurer if you don’t have an agent. You’ll need to provide a few pieces of information to get the process started, including the following:

  • Your name, address, and policy number
  • The date and time of the event/damage
  • A good contact number, particularly if the damage is severe and you cannot stay in the home or your business must remain closed.
  • Send a letter including this information to the insurer or agent (and keep a copy for your own records).

Once you contact them, the insurer or agent will schedule a visit from an insurance adjuster. Depending on the severity of the incident, it may take some time for this. For instance, if you’re dealing with the aftermath of a major hurricane, you may need to wait several weeks.

Step #3: Document Your Losses

Before the adjuster arrives, try to document the damage to your home or business. However, do not take unnecessary risks. If it is unsafe to do so, do not climb onto roofs or enter buildings with structural damage. If it is safe to do so and you are able to document the damage, try to gather information and evidence that will support your claim. This includes the following:

  • Photos or videos of the damage to your property before any repairs or replacements are made, including the exterior and interior
  • Photos or videos of the property before the damage was sustained, including the exterior and interior
  • A detailed list of items or areas damaged during the event, including items related to the structure, as well as possessions or business equipment
  • Documentation that supports the value of each item/object/piece of equipment, which can include receipts, bills of sale, canceled checks, credit card statements, and other records
  • A detailed breakdown of the costs related to lodging or business accommodations, living expenses, and other related costs if you are unable to live in the home or operate from the business location
  • Documentation related to the costs of cleaning, equipment rentals, repairs, or replacements you make before the insurance settlement

Step 4: The Adjuster Arrives

At some point, the insurance adjuster will inspect your property. It’s important to ensure that the adjuster is licensed by the state of Florida. You can verify this by calling the Florida Department of Financial Services helpline at 877-693-5236. 

Once at your location, the adjuster will inspect the property, as well as go over the evidence you’ve collected and the lists you compiled in the previous step. They will also discuss what needs to be repaired but will not specify the dollar amount required to do so. 

In some cases, the adjuster will communicate with the insurer and then offer you a settlement at that time. In other situations, they may choose to wait and discuss things with the insurer, and you’ll receive their decision later. Under Florida law, the insurer has 90 days from the date that you initiated the claim to render a decision and/or offer a settlement.

Step #5: Settling the Claim

Insurance settlements are as unique as the policies they cover. Depending on your situation, your adjuster may urge you to combine personal property and structural claims, although it’s within your rights to file them separately. Doing so also gives you additional time to verify the full extent of the damage to your home or business.

Do not let the adjuster rush your decision. Once you have a settlement offer in hand, understand that you’re not obligated to take it. You can reject the offer and request that the insurer reevaluate your claim if you feel that the adjuster made a mistake.

Don’t Go It Alone

Too often, home and business owners assume that they have no option but to go through the insurance claim process on their own. Worse, they believe that their insurer is looking out for their best interests and that the adjuster is knowledgeable, accurate, and there to help them.

The truth of the matter is far different. Insurance companies are in business to make a profit, not to protect their customers. That means limiting the financial help they offer and denying claims outright whenever possible. Insurance adjusters also don’t work for the customer – they work for the insurer. That means they’ll do what they can to limit the financial fallout of any claim. 

Where does that leave the average Florida homeowner or business owner? The good news is that you’re not alone. Public adjusters can fight for you. At On Target Claims, we work with clients just like you who’ve suffered significant losses and are now facing challenges and even outright denials from the very insurance companies they thought would help in times of need.

We work with you to expertly evaluate the extent of damage to your property. We’ll also help you make sense of your coverage and represent you in negotiations with the adjuster or with other insurance company representatives. We represent you, not the insurer. Moreover, we don’t earn a dime if your claim is denied, so you never need to worry.

Don’t think that you must go through this process alone. You have an ally in On Target Claims.

Schedule Your Insurance Claim Consultation in Florida Today

Time is of the essence when dealing with property damage and insurance claims. We recommend contacting us as soon as possible so that we can be there when the adjuster arrives. However, we can help even if the adjuster has already completed their inspection and your claim has been denied. 

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation on your claim. We can handle every aspect of the process, from the initial assessment and documentation stages through negotiation and settlement. Our sole goal is your peace of mind.

Related Content: What Is Considered Water Damage for Insurance Claims in Florida?

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