How Do Home Insurance Claim Work in Florida?

Realizing you need to file a Florida home insurance claim can be an anxious and stressful experience. Insurance companies don’t make it any easier, either, with all of their rules, red tape, and ridiculously low settlement offers. Fortunately, if you take a little time to learn about the process and how to find people who can actually help you along the way, your claims experience doesn’t have to be terrible. 

Your home insurance policy is designed to help pay for any repairs or rebuilding costs, property replacement, and injuries or lawsuits related to liability. However, the insurance company isn’t going to want to pay more than they have to. By educating yourself and knowing your options, you’ll avoid accepting a lowball offer and get a much better outcome. 

How Does a Home Insurance Claim Work in Florida?

The process for filing a home insurance claim in Florida is the same regardless of the type of incident that has occurred, with one exception: if the incident was a crime of some type (theft, vandalism, arson, etc.), the first call should be to the police. 

If your claim is related to an incident that doesn’t require police involvement, you can go right to calling your insurance company. Although making calls might be the last thing on your mind after some type of incident or emergency that causes damage to your home, this is an essential call to make. The sooner you notify them, the sooner the claims process gets rolling. 

The requirements for reporting your claim will vary based on the circumstances of the claim and the insurance provider, but you can find information on how to file a claim in your policy documentation. 

Once you file the claim, the insurance company will send an adjuster out to review the damage and gather all the details needed for processing. This is also a good time to document all of the damage, any stolen property, and other elements of the claim. Then, you will be given a settlement offer based on the damage, but you don’t necessarily have to take this initial offer. 

Let’s look at each part of the claims process in detail. 

Contact the Authorities (If Necessary) in Florida

If there is a fire, break-in, or vandalism on your property, for example, you will want to notify the authorities right away. In the event of an emergency, such as a fire, or if someone is injured on your property, you should call 911. Otherwise, you should call the non-emergency police number and ask about the process for filing a report. 

A police officer may come to your home or interview you over the phone. Provide all the detailed information that you can, including the damage caused, any property that is missing, and so forth. Ask them when the report will be available so that you can obtain a copy and provide one to your insurance company, too. 

Notify Your Insurance Provider in Florida

The next call that you make should be to the insurance company. If you are filing a minor claim, you may be able to do so online instead of having to report it over the phone. In either case, follow the steps of the insurance company for filing claims. You can check your policy to confirm coverage or simply ask your agent or insurer whether the incident is covered. 

Your home insurance has a deductible. Filing a claim could also increase your premium. Therefore, if you have a small claim, you might want to make sure that it’s worth filing before you get in too deep. For example, if you have a broken window from a storm, it’s probably cheaper to fix or replace it yourself. If, however, your entire home burns down, you’ll definitely need to file an insurance claim. 

If you’re somewhere in between and you aren’t sure, you should consult a public adjuster to see if it’s worth filing. Don’t rely on your insurance company when it comes to whether you should file a claim or not– in most cases, the answer they give you will be in their best interests, not yours. 

Document Everything 

You need to be thorough in order to get a quick, accurate settlement from the insurance company. Take photos and videos of any damage or losses and document things on paper. If you have an inventory of your personal belongings, this is a good time to find it and give it to your insurer along with the damage information. If there’s a police report involved, you’ll also want to get a copy of that for yourself and one to send to the insurance company. 

Save receipts, medical bills, and other documentation that shows the money you’ve spent or will have to spend in relation to the claim. If the claim caused your home to be uninhabitable, save receipts for meals, hotel rooms, and other expenses to get reimbursement for those, as well. Most policies have what’s known as “loss of use” coverage to take care of these expenses. Some insurers will pay these expenses upfront, too, so be sure to ask about that before you start footing the bill. 

Make Emergency Repairs in Florida

If there are repairs that need to be made to prevent further damage, you should make those right away. If you can’t find a contractor to come out and patch the roof, consider at least putting a tarp over the damaged area to keep the weather from infiltrating your home. Most home insurance policies require that you make any repairs necessary to prevent further damage while awaiting a claim determination. 

Make sure that you’ve got plenty of photos and videos of the damage before you make any repairs. Save your receipts, too, because you can submit those to the insurance company for reimbursement as part of the settlement. 

Settle Your Claim in Florida

The rest of the repairs or rebuilding will have to wait until the claim is settled, in most cases. This is the part of filing a home insurance claim that confuses a lot of people. It’s likely been a decent amount of time since the claim was filed and you’re finally hearing word that the insurance company will pay. Don’t get too excited just yet, though. They haven’t told you how much they’re going to offer. 

In most cases, insurance companies will attempt to settle a claim for the least amount possible. Not only does this save them money, but it ensures that people aren’t profiting from their loss in an unscrupulous way. Unfortunately, that means that most people end up being given an offer that is far less than what they actually deserve. 

As mentioned, the insurance company’s first offer is just that: an offer. They have reviewed the adjuster’s information and the claim details and determined that based on your policy and the losses present, this is what they can get away with giving you to get things settled and get onto the next claim. Unfortunately, too many people either don’t realize this or don’t care to argue and take that first offer, which leaves them picking up the tab when the insurance settlement runs out. 

The best thing that you can do is contact a public insurance claims adjuster who can help you get the maximum amount for your claim and hold the insurance company accountable for doing its job and providing the coverage that you pay for. 

Florida’s Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights 

The Sunshine State is diligent about protecting homeowners when it comes to insurance claims and for good reason. Most insurance companies are looking out for themselves first, and their policyholders second. As part of Florida’s legal statutes, the Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights outlines your rights as a policyholder when you file a claim:

  • The right to the acknowledgment of your claim within seven days of submission.
  • The right to a claim determination within 30 days of submitting the Proof of Loss Statement. 
  • The right to a copy of the adjuster’s estimate within seven days of completion. 
  • The right to full or partial payment of the claim or written denial within 60 days of claim submission. 
  • The right to interest earned on the claim amount when not paid within 60 days
  • The right to mediation through the Florida Department of Finacial Services. 
  • The right to participate in neutral evaluation when the damage is caused by a sinkhole. 

How Homeowners Insurance Claims are Paid 

Home insurance claims can be complex and complicated, or they can be straightforward and simple. For example, a roof damaged by hurricane winds would result in a single payment for roof repair or replacement. On the other hand, a full rebuild of a home after a fire might require multiple payments over time to pay for contractors and materials as the expenses build. 

You may be offered a settlement not long after making your claim. This may be an emergency allotment, or it may be considered an immediate settlement for the whole claim. You can choose to accept this payment, but you’ll be happy to know that if you do, you still have the right to file another claim later if you discover additional damage. 

If you feel that the settlement is insufficient, you can dispute it. This is a good time to hire a public insurance adjuster to get a second opinion about what your claim is actually worth so that you get the settlement you deserve. 

The Bottom Line

On Target Claims has years of experience working with home insurance claims in Florida. Our team of public insurance claims adjusters will review your claim and help you get the settlement that you deserve, and we’ll help educate you along the way for added peace of mind. To learn more or have your claim reviewed by an experienced public adjuster, contact On Target Claims today at 954-266-0541. 

Related Content: Everything You Need to Know About Fire Insurance Claims in Florida

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