Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is warning residents of potential fraudsters looking to make a buck off others’ misfortune.
Here’s a release he sent Tuesday:
Following the landfall of Hurricane Irma, many Floridians are now assessing their homes and property for damage and taking steps to make temporary repairs to prevent additional damage before filing insurance claims.
CFO Patronis and Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier encourage Floridians to be prompt in notifying their insurance companies and cautious of repair deals that sound too good to be true.
“If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is and could be fraud,” said CFO Patronis. “Opportunistic scammers may attempt to defraud Floridians following Hurricane Irma, and I encourage all Floridians to be vigilant in guarding against fraud.”
Here are the top tips for consumers currently navigating the insurance claims process:
— Notify your insurance company first. Many insurance companies have reporting deadlines, so it is important to act quickly. Take steps to make temporary repairs that prevent further damage, but remain in contact with your insurance company regarding any outside vendors that are brought in to make repairs. If you need help locating contact information for your insurance company, click here to access the Office of Insurance Regulation’s (OIR) directory. Helpline experts working the Insurance Consumer Helpline at 1-877-693-5236 can also help Floridians locate their insurance company’s contact information.
— While making temporary repairs, obtain the licensing or training credentials of all third-party vendors before signing any work agreements. Beware of fly-by-night repair companies and hire only licensed and reputable vendors. Use the Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Contractor License lookup to make sure all contractors are properly licensed and bonded. Access DBPR’s licensee search here.
— Fully review all documentation you are asked to sign and ask questions to make sure you understand the agreements you are signing. Ask specifically who is responsible for paying the vendor, you as the consumer, or your insurance company. For more information about how an assignment of benefits (AOB) for repairs works, visit the DFS “AOB” or Office “AOB Resources” webpages.
— If considering the assistance of a public insurance adjuster, ask for identification to verify that the adjuster is licensed. Visit CFO Patronis’ Hurricane Irma Insurance Resources website to verify the license of any Florida insurance agent or adjuster.
— Understand how much a public insurance adjuster charges as well as what services are included before signing any contract.
— If you suspect fraud or suspicious activity, report it immediately by calling theInsurance Consumer Helpline at 1-877-693-5236. You concerns will be promptly referred to insurance fraud investigators. The helpline is available from 8:00am EST to 5:00pm EST to answer all insurance-related questions for Floridians and businesses.