Each year, thousands of Floridians incur property damage to their homes and businesses for a myriad of reasons including hurricanes, fire, water damage, flood damage and mold. This can be one of the most stressful experiences we have to face. The restoration process comes with its own set of headaches in dealing with the insurance company, as well as the restoration contractors.
Don’t get ripped off by hiring the wrong restoration contractor. In order to protect yourself and ensure your property is restored to your satisfaction, it is critical that you are able to differentiate the truth from some of the lies you may encounter during the insurance claims process.
The Most Common Lies You May Hear From a Restoration Contractor
1. “Just sign this and I’ll take care of everything.”
It is important for policyholders to understand that insurance restoration contractors have no authority to negotiate your insurance claim settlement on your behalf. However, many of them portray themselves as unlicensed public adjusters. This is a third degree felony in Florida. If a restoration contractor asks you to sign an Assignment of Benefit (AOB) form and you sign it, they have just entitled themselves to all monies received from your insurance company and have removed you from any participation in your own insurance claim! Do you really want to hand over all of your money to a stranger?
2. “I work with all of the insurance companies so I’ll get you the most money.”
Most insurance restoration contractors do, in fact, work with all or many of the different insurance carriers. If the insurance company referred the insurance contractor to you, then ask yourself who is their real customer? The contractor may receive hundreds of leads a week from the insurance company. Doesn’t it makes sense then that the contractor is more interested in keeping their own gravy train flowing by doing what they are told to do by the insurance company, rather than making you a happy customer?
Insurance restoration contractors take their orders, pricing, and determination of the scope of damages for your claim from the people that pay them, not you! They work direct for the insurance companies. The insurance carriers are their customers. As such, insurance restoration contractors are always going to be more interested in pleasing the hand that feeds them – the insurance company – than helping you.
3. “Don’t worry; I’ll cover your deductible.”
While many restoration contractors are unscrupulous, worse yet, there are many that are also criminals. If an insurance restoration contractor ever tells you they will cover your deductible, you need to report them immediately. This is a third degree felony in the state of Florida.
The Florida Department of Financial Services has a special department for Consumer Services, and serves as the official advocate for Floridians in the insurance claims process. The hotline and link have been provided here for your convenience:
4. “If you don’t like the workmanship or the materials, or have a dispute on the job, you don’t have to pay for it.”
Many restoration contractors will try to get you to sign the Assignment of Benefits (AOB) form. This is a contract that deprives you of your rights. Don’t ever sign one! AOB lawsuits have flooded Florida courts in the past two years. If you don’t like the workmanship, or the insurance contractor doesn’t pay its subcontractors for work completed on your property, or if a contractor is hurt while working on your property, you may incur lien(s) against your property with no recourse whatsoever as a result of the AOB. You will be stuck dealing with the liens and legal problems on your own.
What about guarantees and warrantees on the restoration work performed?
Don’t be fooled, many insurance companies and their adjusters act like the insurance company is warranting or guaranteeing the work, when in fact they are NOT! Ask your insurance company to provide you with a written guarantee or warrantee and you might be surprised how they wiggle and squirm to avoid giving you an honest answer to this question!
5. “I’ll negotiate your claim with your insurance company for you.”
In Florida, it is also a third degree felony for the unlicensed practice of public adjusting. Insurance restoration contractors have no authority whatsoever to negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.
By law, only licensed public insurance adjusters and attorneys are permitted to approach and assist policyholders in the insurance claims process. Public adjusters are typically paid a small percentage of the total settlement fee, in exchange for representing you through the process from the very start to finish. They are highly skilled, licensed industry professionals that know how to assist you circumvent the land mines, traps and lies, in order to ensure your property is restored satisfactorily.
Don’t take on the insurance carrier or the insurance restoration contractor on your own. In the event of a property damage occurrence, make sure you have a licensed public adjuster with the industry knowledge and expertise representing you from a place of truth!
For insurance claims assurance in Florida, call Public Adjuster Steven Venook (Florida Public Adjuster license number #A273134) at Advocate Claims Public Adjusters at 954-369-2869.
Florida Department of Financial Services: Consumer Services