TAMPA – AAA is mobilizing hundreds of insurance claims professionals from across the country to begin processing claims throughout Florida, as soon as it is safe to do so.
AAA, The Auto Club Group, which offers home and auto insurance policies in Florida, is anticipating a significant number of claims, due to widespread flooding and wind damage caused by Hurricane Ian. For this reason, AAA insurance professionals across the country are brought in to help.
“Our hearts go out to all Florida residents who were impacted by Hurricane Ian,” said Jennifer Pintacuda, president of Florida-based AAA Insurers. “We are gathering as many resources as possible to help residents start the recovery process as soon as possible.
“Once conditions are safe, we encourage residents to begin appraising their properties, documenting any damage, and contacting their insurance providers immediately to begin the claims process. Many providers like AAA offer multiple ways to file a claim, whether over the phone, online or via a mobile app.”
AAA tips for residents
1. Document the damage as soon as possible. Take photos and videos for your insurance claim and personal records. The more documents you have, the easier it is to file your application.
2. Prevent further damage. Only do what is necessary to prevent further damage, such as covering broken windows with plastic or having a professional cover the roof with tarps to keep the rain out.
3. Document expenses and keep receipts for preliminary repairs, travel, or other claim-related disbursements that may count toward your deductible. This could include tree removal, tarps, coolers for food, overnight stay in a hotel, etc.
4. Contact your insurance company immediately to begin the claims process.
5. Beware of contractors who go door to door offering repair services and promise to file an insurance claim on your behalf.
6. Hire a licensed contractor to carry out repairs after an adjuster has examined the damage.
In case of extreme damage…
If your home is destroyed or uninhabitable, find a safe place for your family to stay while your home is repaired. The loss of use coverage from a standard home insurance policy usually helps pay for your family’s housing as long as the damage is part of a covered claim. Check your policy or ask your insurance agent to make sure you have this coverage and to determine the monetary value and time limits. If you need help finding temporary housing options, here’s more information from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Beware of Unlicensed Contractors
AAA warns residents of the potential for contractor fraud. The aftermath of a hurricane or other severe storm creates the opportunity for scammers and unlicensed contractors to take advantage of those who need help.
Dishonest entrepreneurs may try to profit by:
• Accept payment and then never finish (or even show up) the job.
• Use substandard materials or perform work that is not up to code.
Red flags to watch out for:
• The entrepreneur presents himself unsolicited.
• Reports damage you haven’t noticed before.
• Request full payment in advance and/or cash only.
• Promises you free services or offers to waive your insurance deductible.
• Pushes you to encourage your family, friends or neighbors to hire them for services.
• Offers you a discount to allow them to use leftover materials from a previous job.
• Before hiring someone to do repairs, contact your insurance company to file your claim and make sure the damage is covered by your policy.
• Obtain detailed written quotes from at least three different licensed and insured contractors.
• Before signing any documents and before a contractor begins work, first authorize your insurance company to come and inspect the damage.
• Work only with licensed and insured contractors.
Check contractor references
Do not allow a contractor to inspect your property, including your roof, until you have verified that they are licensed and insured.
• Verify that the contractor has an active and valid Florida license at www.MyFloridaLicense.com.
• Check the complaints filed against him on the Better Business Bureau website at www.BBB.org.
Additionally, AAA recommends the following:
• Do not attempt to start a vehicle if the water level is above the door opening and the interior of the car is wet. This could cause major problems if the flood water has contaminated engine oil or other vehicle fluids.
• Take photos of the exterior of the vehicle. Do not open the gates if the water levels are still high.
• Once the waters have cleared, take pictures of the interior.
• Contact your insurer.