Sometimes things just don’t go your way. Nobody controls the weather, and likewise you have no way to control other people and their actions. So whether it’s the weather that’s out of control, that raging party that got out of hand at your neighbor’s house, or the car that has mysteriously parked itself in your swimming pool, there may come a time that you will need to file a property damage claim. Florida provides homeowners with a homeowners bill of rights with regards to insurance claims, but you should know how to file a claim in order to avoid being defrauded of your rightful benefits.

1. Immediately call your insurance company, or agent. If there is a third party who caused the damage, you will want to be sure that your interests are protected.

2. Photograph or otherwise document the damage, and mitigate as much as possible. For instance, put a tarp over a roof, board up broken windows, or stop the flow from a broken pipe. Keep receipts from any mitigation efforts, whether from the local Home Depot or from a contractor.

3. You should always have an inventory of your household goods, and keep this inventory and other vital forms on hand in case of an emergency.

4. If the emergency repairs are too much for you to manage, and you call a contractor to help you, you need to know about something called assignment of benefits. Assignment of benefits means that you assign to the contractor the benefits that you would normally receive from your insurance company. This started out as a good idea to help homeowners quickly make repairs to their properties, and has instead turned in to a major source of fraud. At no time should you ever be pressured by contractor to assign your insurance benefits to them. This is a major red flag.

5. If the damage to your property is severe enough to warrant leaving, take steps to secure your home by removing any valuables, turning off your utilities, locking up outbuildings, and contacting your insurance company with a telephone number and address where you will be staying.

So you can see, it’s pretty simple. It will be a very stressful time, but you definitely need to keep your cool and not be pushed into any decisions that you will regret later. We understand that everyone wants to get back to normal after trauma and drama after an accident or weather event. No matter what you do the first point of contact should always be your insurance company. Call your independent insurance agent at E&L. We understand that you want the damage fixed as quickly as possible, and so do we. Come in and let’s have a look at your policies and see if there any gaps in your current coverage. Will get you covered for anything you can possibly imagine.