When disaster strikes, Florida homeowners may feel a great sense of relief just getting an insurance claim filed. The hard part’s over, right? Maybe not. Waiting is hard too, especially when you are waiting for a claim approval so you can get your life back to normal. As the days pass, you may experience growing frustration and begin to wonder if you are ever going to see a check in the mail.
Florida lawmakers have enacted what is known as the Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights. This law establishes a timeframe in which homeowners can expect to hear from their insurance company after filing a claim. The law does not establish grounds for a civil lawsuit, however, nor does it affect the insurance policy itself and its conditions. It also allows for exceptions to the timelines due to situations that are beyond the control of the insurer.
The timeline gives insurance companies 14 days in which to acknowledge receipt of your claim; this initial communication is neither an approval nor denial. The insurer has 30 days to communicate whether the claim is covered, fully or partially, or denied. This same timeframe applies when the insurer decides to investigate the claim; the company must give you written notice of the investigation within that same 30 days. The insurer has 90 days to deny your claim or make full payment to you as the policyholder. If part of the claim is being disputed, the company must make payment of the undisputed portion within 90 days.
The law also recognizes that you may need to take action before receiving any settlement. It offers this advice to homeowners:
- If emergency repairs are needed to prevent additional damage to your home, make them and document everything. Retain the actual damaged pieces if you can and photograph both the damage and repairs.
- Thoroughly examine repair contracts for requirements that you pay out-of-pocket expenses or whether payment is based on a percentage of your settlement money.
- Verify that the contractor is insured and licensed to work in Florida and ask for references. Check with the Florida Dept. of Business and Regulation for any complaints.
If you must leave your home due to damage, be sure to secure your property first. Turn off all utilities and remember to give your insurance carrier a phone number so they can reach you.
This timeline is meant to provide general information; it is not to be considered legal advice.