October 18, 2018, WFLA-FM, Tallahassee ̶ Morning Host Preston Scott interviews former deputy insurance commissioner Lisa Miller for the insurance perspective as we are “Still Recovering” from Hurricane Michael’s devastating strike in Florida’s panhandle.
Lisa advises those who’ve suffered hurricane damage to document what’s going on. Use your phone to take pictures. Watch for damage that progresses and be sure to take updated pictures of that further damage. If you have a total loss, you’ll go to the front of the insurance claims line with your company and with other available disaster resources.
Lisa confirms that if you have insurance, file a claim with your insurance company first and then seek FEMA assistance. FEMA, she said, tries its best to help pick-up what insurance doesn’t cover. She also preached patience in dealing with your circumstances, including your insurance company. Lisa says the two insurance villages of mobile companies setup in Panama City and Tallahassee provide immediate assistance and try to expedite the claims. She compared it to a hospital emergency room triage – where insurance adjusters look at the severity of damage – and handle the worst cases first. She said it may take 24-48 hours for you to receive service depending on your situation.
Lisa also warned of abuses taking place by some contractors who are pushing Assignment of Benefits (AOB) contracts on insurance policyholders. She explained that by signing an AOB, a homeowners is literally signing over the rights to their entire insurance policy claim to the contractor or vendor. She warned that AOBs are used as a tool to do nefarious things. Lisa said there’s no need in this day and age to assign your rights to anyone in order for the vendor to get paid by the insurance company. You do need to sign a waiver of authorization so that work can begin, but not an AOB. Read before you sign anything, she warned, and if you don’t like something, cross it out, initial it, and hand it back to the vendor. If they don’t want to agree to your revisions, then they won’t do the work.
Lisa shared with listeners the Florida Department of Financial Services Division of Consumer Affairs Insurance Resourceswebsite, where they can find answers to questions. Or call the Florida Department of Financial Services Insurance Claims Assistance Hotline at 1-877-693-5236 to talk with a live representative.