Waiting for Home Insurance Claims in FL? Here’s What You Need to Know

Home insurance is a necessary part of owning a home, but it’s also a benefit to every single homeowner. That’s because when you have it, it’s going to ensure that no matter what happens, your family and your home are covered. Of course, most of us buy home insurance with the intention of never actually filing a home insurance claim—who wants to assume the worst?

When the worst does happen, it’s important to understand the insurance claims process and how it works. Keep in mind that it’s different in every state, so Florida insurance claims will have their own guidelines, best practices, and timelines to consider. There are also several variables involved that can impact the timeline of an insurance claim. 

In Florida, homeowners insurance companies and policyholders are all kept accountable to the Florida Revised Code 627.7142, the Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights. This statute requires all insurance companies to provide home insurance policyholders with a copy of the Homeowner Claims BOR within 14 days of the initial communication regarding a claim. 

This document summarizes Florida laws regarding policyholders’ rights when they have filed a claim of loss. It covers things like how long the insurance company has to approve (or deny) a claim, how long they have to settle, and what other rights policyholders have. It also has information on best practices, including:

  • Contacting your insurance company immediately. 
  • Make and document any necessary emergency repairs. 
  • Require contractors to provide proof of insurance. 
  • Secure your property if required to leave the home. 

Let’s take a closer look at what home insurance covers and the process involved in filing a claim in the state of Florida. All told, the claims processing period should only take 60 to 150 days, but this depends on the nature of the claim, the variables involved, how long repairs or replacement take, etc. 

What Does Home Insurance Claim Cover in FL?

Home insurance policies can include coverage for several different aspects of your home and its contents. The most common types of coverage included on a home insurance policy in Florida include:

  • Dwelling coverage: pays to repair or rebuild the home and attached structures.
  • Other structures: coverage for the repair or replacement of other buildings on the property. 
  • Personal property: covers your personal effects in the event they are damaged or destroyed.
  • Loss of use: pays for any hotel rooms, property rentals, food costs, and other temporary living expenses when your home is unlivable. 
  • Personal liability and medical payments: pays for medical expenses and legal expenses. 

The state of Florida also has requirements for policyholders regarding how much coverage they need, what coverage is required for mortgage satisfaction, and so forth. It’s best to discuss your policy with someone who understands insurance to know exactly what coverage you have before you start the claims process. 

Is Hurricane Coverage Included in Home Insurance Claim?

Home insurance policies typically have coverage for hurricanes and windstorm damage, but they will not cover any flooding or related water damage; this coverage requires a separate policy that is issued by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which you can get from several insurers that are recognized and approved by FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Association)

Home insurance typically only provides basic coverage for protection from fire, wind, mold, and water. This is why homeowners need to consider the amount of coverage they have to ensure that they can get the settlement they deserve. 

What About My Deductible in FL?

Home insurance deductibles are payments that must be made before a claim will be processed and paid. If you have never filed a home insurance claim (as most haven’t), your deductible will come out of the claims reimbursement. Some companies may require it to be paid upfront instead of reimbursed, so be sure to ask about that, too. 

Although the standard home insurance deductible is $1000, you should go lower when you can. A deductible as low as $500 is available in many cases, meaning you’ll spend less out-of-pocket. Plus, it usually only costs a few dollars more on the policy to lower the deductible. 

Can Filing Home Insurance Claim Online Speed Up the Process in FL?

Some homeowners choose to file an insurance claim online, assuming that it will speed things up. In some cases, it can help expedite a claim. However, some insurance companies don’t have great online claim submission tools in place, which means you could actually end up working harder if you decide to go this route. Ultimately, though, you’ll have to see what your insurer offers and prefers. 

Filing online can give you an easy way to track the claim, too. It reduces paperwork and lets you see everything in one place without having to call to check in all the time. There are several perks to this option, so be sure to consider it when you are trying to make the most of your Florida home insurance claim. 

The Home Insurance Claim Process in FL

As discussed, insurers have 14 days after a claim is filed to provide you with the Homeowner’s Bill of Rights and notification that your claim has been received. The statute of limitations allows five years from the time of the incident to file a claim. However, it’s best to file as soon as possible to ensure that you get the best chance of settling your claim in your favor. 

After that, the insurance company typically has about 60 days to accept or deny the claim, and then another 20 days to make the payment of the claim. If they don’t pay right away, interest starts to accrue to the tune of 12% per year. 

To get a better idea of what to expect, here are the steps involved in the home insurance claim process. And if you don’t want to do it on your own, you can enlist the help of a public adjuster. They can handle everything from calling to file the claim to be present at the inspection, helping recover damages, and more. 

Step One: Call the Insurance Company Immediately 

This does two things: it notifies the insurance company of a claim, and it allows you to check your coverage, your deductible, and other details that may be important to the claims filing process. You don’t necessarily need to have a detailed list of what happened and what’s damaged yet, but you need to notify them that a claim is coming and what it is for. As mentioned, if you use a public adjuster, they can do this for you.

Step Two: Survey the Damage and Document Everything

Some insurance companies will want you to wait until the insurance adjuster arrives to do this—if that’s what they ask, follow their guidance. However, you need to go through the home and document all the damage that has taken place. Take pictures and videos, record expensive items, and make sure that you have as much documentation as possible. 

Don’t throw anything away yet. You’ll need it to support the claim. You can also have your public adjuster prepare a damage estimate to compare to the insurance company’s findings and ensure that you get what you are owed.

Step Three: Get Your Estimate from the Adjuster

Now, you will need to make sure that the insurance adjuster that comes to your home can survey all the damage and document the same losses that you have. This usually happens within 24-48 hours of the claim notification, as insurance companies like to get on the job right away to ensure that further damage doesn’t happen. The adjuster will come and collect all the information and take it with them. You’ll be notified later of how that went and what they are suggesting in terms of repairs. 

If you’re not satisfied with what the insurance company’s adjuster estimate says, your public adjuster can utilize their own estimate to fight for a better settlement on your behalf. 

Step Four: Start Getting Estimates 

Now that the adjuster has come and gone, you can start contacting various contractors and getting estimates for the work that you need to have done. Don’t hire anyone yet—the insurance company might have guidelines regarding who can do the work. Or, they might just need more time to complete the claim and determine the payout, and you don’t want to have to pay out-of-pocket for repairs. 

Your public adjuster can provide the estimate for you. You can also use these estimates in addition to the public adjuster’s own damage estimate to support your claim with the insurance company. 

Step Five: Get Your Settlement and Get Your Home Back 

Once the adjuster documents all the damage, they will take that information back to the insurance provider. This will help them determine what they think is a “fair” settlement. Then, they will call and make you an offer. Don’t think that you have to take the first settlement that you’re offered, either. You can counter-offer or just tell them that their offer isn’t enough. 

Once you have agreed upon a settlement, it’s time to start getting your home repaired or rebuilt. And if you can’t agree with your insurance provider, it might be time to get a second opinion from a public adjuster

When to Get a Second Opinion 

Insurance companies are always looking out for number one, first and foremost. They are going to give low-ball settlement offers to assume that people don’t realize they can contest the offer or outright refuse it entirely. If you feel that your insurance company isn’t being fair with your settlement, you might want to seek out a second opinion. You can do this by reaching out to an independent public adjuster that can review your home insurance claim and help you get the outcome that you deserve. 

Some people opt to hire a lawyer and start preparing for a big court battle, but that takes a lot of time, money, and effort. Sometimes, a simple review of the case by an experienced claims adjuster is all you need. 

Final Thoughts 

If you are dealing with a home insurance claim in Florida and you aren’t happy with the way the insurance company is handling things, you might want to explore your options. Instead of hiring a lawyer for a drawn-out court hearing, consider an independent review by a third-party claims adjuster. On Target Claims has years of experience in recovering the maximum settlement for residential customers, including standard home insurance claims, as well as those for storms, fire, mold, and other hazards. Contact On Target claims at 954-266-0541 to learn more.

Related Content: How Long Do Home Insurance Claims Take in Florida?

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