Hurricane Ian: Post-Storm Resources

As we begin to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Ian, we wanted to provide you with some useful tips on filing a claim and alert you of the dangers that often occur following a catastrophic event.

How to File a Claim

 

If you need to file a claim, please contact your insurance carrier directly. For a list of carriers contact information, please click here

 

Claim Considerations

  • Send photos of the damage, including photos before damage if possible, to the adjuster. Include photos of:
    • The outside of the premises showing the flooding and the damage to the building
    • The water lines of the exterior and interior of the building using a tape measure showing the height of the water in and around your building.
  • Create a list of damaged property, including description, cost, and receipt if possible.
  • Keep a journal of your emails, calls detailing time and date with insurance companies and adjusters so you can proactively manage the process.
  • Ask your insurer or us for preferred vendors before signing with an unknown contractor.
  • Have your policy information when you call insurer, including insurer, policy number, and mortgage.
  • Keep damaged property for the adjuster to review – some policies, such as flood insurance, require that the insured retain damaged property for an inspection. While you may wish to remove the soggy carpeting so mold doesn’t develop, DO NOT DISCARD any items until the adjuster can to view, document, and verify the flood damage to each item.  Make a list of damaged or lost items and include their date of purchase, value, and receipts, if possible.
  • Read the contract before signing with any firm who is going to do work on your home.  Ensure it does not include assignment of benefits, which allows a third party, such as a water extraction company, a roofer, or plumber to “stand in the shoes” of the insured and seek payment from the insurer.  The payment they seek is often inflated and work performed is often subpar. 
  • Get three written estimates, if possible, and compare bids. Check credentials and contact the Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau to learn about any complaints against the contractor. Ask to get the contractor’s certificate of insurance directly from their insurance company, not from the contractor. Before work begins, get a written contract detailing all work to be performed, costs, and a projected completion date.
  • For car repairs, shop around and compare written estimates. On major jobs, get a second opinion.

Avoiding Insurance Scams

 

After large storms, it’s important to be aware of some of the dangers posed not just by the weather, but also people who are trying to take advantage of you during a stressful time. We are here for you if you have any questions.

 

When it comes to making repairs to your home. Please be wary of anyone asking you to sign an “AOB (Assignment of Benefits)” agreement or any other outsiders and other organizations that seem like they are there to provide vital assistance in the form of insurance adjusters, emergency/medical personnel and other needed services. Unfortunately, not all of these people and organizations have good intentions.

 

Assignment of Benefits (AOB) Warning 

 

Often misused, signing an AOB can lead to harmful consequences for the homeowner. 

 

Assignment of Benefits (AOB) is an agreement that, once signed, transfers the insurance claims rights or benefits of the policy to a third-party. An AOB gives the third party authority to file a claim, make repair decisions and collect insurance payments without the involvement of the homeowner.

 

AOBs are commonly used in homeowners’ insurance claims by water remediation companies and contractors.  Be aware that signing an AOB, you are transferring your insurance rights to the contractor and allowing them to collect money paid-out from your insurance company on your behalf.

 

We have seen contractors that file fraudulent claims, perform shoddy repair work that is not up to code or not perform the work at all.   Always read the contract with a service provider to ensure it does not include AOB language. Call us to learn more or if you suspect you have signed a contract with AOB language.

Insurance Fraud

 

After a natural disaster, unethical vendors or public adjusters may approach you with schemes promising to put you in a better position than you were before the catastrophe. These schemes usually involve kickbacks to the vendor or adjuster. You may also see a contractor or vendor ask you for a large down payment to begin work and repairs, and after they collect your money, you won’t ever see them again.

 

It is important to be aware of these situations and know what to do if you encounter them. 

 

How to Avoid Fraud After a Catastrophe

 

  1. Check with insurer or us, your insurance agent, for credible remediation companies, contractors, or vendors.
  2. Beware of high pressure sales people. Don’t be rushed into signing a contract. Take the time to obtain written estimates from more than one vendor.
  3. Know who you are dealing with. Obtain references, check with the Better Business Bureau, review licenses and ensure the vendor you select is properly insured. Be wary of anyone who approaches you unsolicited or says they can perform your repairs at a discount with leftover supplies from another job.
  4. Get at least 3 written, itemized estimates or bids on repairs.
  5. Don’t make large down payments. Although down payments are customary, some unethical vendors disappear after receiving the down payment or performing limited work.
  6. Check for proof of insurance and verify with their insurer that their policy is current.
  7. Check to see if the contractor is bonded and verify with the bonding agency.
  8. Do not sign a certificate of completion or make final payment until you are satisfied with the work performed. 

Resources


We hope it doesn’t occur, but in the event that you believe someone is committing a disaster fraud scheme or if you fall victim to one, you should contact the NCDF (National Center for Disaster Fraud) immediately. The NCDF task force was created post-Hurricane Katrina and is made up of over 20 federal agencies, U.S. attorneys and law enforcement officers, who serve as advocates for those affected by fraud. 

 

Call the Disaster Fraud Hotline at (866) 720-5721

Or visit online at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/how-report-disaster-related-fraud

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