South Florida Sun-Sentinel
May 28, 2006
Begin making temporary repairs to prevent further damage. Save all receipts.
Do not attempt to make permanent repairs on your home until an adjuster has inspected it.
Most homeowner policies provide for removal of trees or branches that have fallen on your home. They usually don't pay for removal of trees or debris that blew into your yard without damaging anything.
If your home is uninhabitable or you move somewhere else temporarily, be sure to let your insurer know where you can be reached.
Don't assume that adjusters will know what street they are on; street signs may have blown away. Industry officials say the spray-painting of important information on homes after a hurricane has proved effective. Your name and correct address should be sufficient for an adjuster to find your policy. Don't include your policy number; someone else may take advantage of that.
Insurers usually send adjusters to the worst-hit homes first. If your home sustained only minor damage, be patient.
Many adjusters and agents are authorized to issue checks on the spot to cover the cost of temporary housing.
Get bids from several licensed contractors on repair jobs and present them to your adjuster. You should be free to pick the contractor of your choice, with the adjuster's consent. Some companies provide lists of recommended contractors.
If you and your insurance company can't settle on how much it will cost to repair your home, the Insurance Information Institute suggests contacting the company's claims department manager. If you still can't agree, you and the insurance company can present the claim to a state-run mediation program.
Litigation should be a last resort.
Here are phone numbers, some of which are activated only after a storm, for insurance questions:
Florida Department of Financial Services Consumer Helpline: 800-342-2762 or 800-227-8676
Citizens Property Insurance: 866-411-2742
First Floridian (Travelers and Aetna) 800-252-4633
Liberty Mutual: 800-225-2467
Poe Financial Group: 800-365-8541
State Farm: 800-732-5246
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