March signals the start of spring – a time of reassessment, growth, and renewal that brings positive change. It’s also a good time to renew our commitment to helping people in our communities be savvy consumers.
Thanks to a vast network of agencies and organizations, both state and local, involved in National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), more people than ever have the tools they need to understand their consumer rights and navigate the marketplace. The result is empowered consumers – people who make better decisions about money, and who can spot, stop and report scams.
All Florida homeowners should be armed with information to help protect their home and family.
The 9 tips below will help get you there:
- Don’t Become a Victim of Assignment of Benefits Abuse: Assignment of Benefits (AOB) is defined as: an agreement that, once signed, transfers the insurance claims rights or benefits of the policy to a third-party. An AOB gives the third-party authority to file a claim, make repair decisions, and collect insurance payments without the involvement of the homeowner. AOBs are commonly used in homeowner’s insurance claims by water remediation companies and contractors (myfloridacfo.com).
If you have damage, you should take the necessary steps to mitigate further damages from occurring; this would include any temporary repairs such as covering the roof or removing standing water. You should also immediately contact your insurance company to inform them of the damage.
By signing an AOB you may not have the right to receive any insurance payments, and such payments will belong to the contractor. This may result in repairs not being made to your home, theft of your insurance payouts, unlivable conditions in your home, and it will complicate, delay, reduce, and possibly result in the denial of a claim settlement.
For more information on AOB see the People’s Trust Insurance Homeowners Academy or visit myfloridacfo.com.
- Make Sure You Have Enough Home Insurance Coverage: About 60 percent of all U.S. homes are under-insured by an average of 20 percent, according to CoreLogic. Talk to your Florida Home Insurance Agent today and make sure you are properly insured!
- You Should Consider Flood Insurance Even If You’re Not in a Designated Flood Zone: Any water or mud moving or accumulating on the ground outside the home and finding its way inside constitutes flooding, and typically isn’t covered under a standard Florida home insurance policy; you need to purchase a separate policy to get flood protection. Nearly 85% of Hurricane Harvey Victims did not have Flood insurance. FEMA estimates that only 30 percent of the homes that are in flood zones have NFIP coverage.
- The Things You Love Most May Not Be Covered: Do you have an expensive engagement ring or other jewelry, a closet full of designer clothes, or an expensive painting? Having many of these items in your home will probably well-exceed the limit of standard homeowner’s insurance policies. Talk with your Florida home insurance agent to determine the best coverage or need for endorsements or riders to your policy.
- Not Every Damage is Covered: While a standard homeowner’s insurance policy gives you many protections, such as coverage for the structure of your home, your personal belongings, loss of use, and liability, it doesn’t cover everything. Policies often state that for something to be covered, it must be “sudden and accidental.” That means if you’ve had a leaky faucet that caused damage over many months, it probably won’t be covered because you neglected proper maintenance. Make sure you properly repair any damages to prevent further damage to your home.
- Home Maintenance Really Matters: Insurance companies will usually inspect your property when a policy is written for it. Home inspections help the homeowner identify issues that they may not be aware of and allow them to make sure that it’s in good condition so deferred maintenance doesn’t make your home unsafe or more vulnerable to additional damages.
Check out homeowner’s maintenance tips here: People’s Trust Homeowner’s Academy
You Could Be Missing Discounts: When you make home improvements to your Florida home or add technology that makes your home safer, such as alarm systems, deadbolt locks, and upgraded doors, windows, or roofing, you may qualify for discounts. Talk to your authorized home insurance agent and ask what discounts you may qualify for.
- Create A Home Inventory: Document what you own by creating a home inventory that lists your personal belongings and what you paid for them or their appraised value, then store it in a safe place or online. Use your smart phone to take video of each room and the contents of closets and cabinets.