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Hurricane Irma

Helpline: 1-877-693-5236

The Division of Consumer Services stands ready to assist insurance consumers in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma by offering consumers direct access to our insurance experts who can answer the many insurance-related questions that will follow in the wake of the storm as well as information and resources. This site will continuously be updated to provide you with the most current information.

Our toll-free insurance consumer helpline is available.

You may reach us by calling 1-877-693-5236, Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm, EST

You can speak directly with individuals who can help you review your policies to understand your coverage, help you file claims for damage and offer assistance in the event that you are having trouble communicating with your insurance company.

To verify an insurance agent's or adjuster’s license, visit the Licensee Search page.

Property Insurance Companies and Contact Numbers

Please click here to locate your insurance company and contact information.

Eligible Counties for FEMA Assistance

Florida Residents with losses due to Hurricane Irma in Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, Columbia, DeSoto, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lafayette, Lake, Lee, Levy, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Nassau, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Pasco, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Sumter, Suwannee, Volusia, and Union Counties may now register for disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to state and federal officials.

Individuals can register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or through the FEMA App.

Applicants will need the following to apply:

  • Social Security Number;

  • Daytime telephone number;

  • Current mailing address and address and zip code of the damaged property; and

  • Private insurance information, if available.

By registering for federal assistance on www.DisasterAssistance.gov

  • You can look up your address to find out if it is in a disaster area declared for Individual Assistance.

  • Check the status of your application and get updates by SMS or email.

  • Upload documents to support your application.

Another option for individuals, including those who use 711 relay or VRS, is to call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) while those who use TTY can call 1-800-462-7585. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. EDT seven days a week until further notice.

Citizens Property Insurance Corporation - Catastrophe Response Centers & Satellite Offices

Citizens has deployed their mobile Catastrophe Response Centers (CRCs) to impacted areas and in certain satellite offices to provide in-person service to their policyholders who may be cut off from their usual means of communication. Citizens' CRC staff will:

  • Process first notices of loss (FNOL)

  • Make advance payments for additional living expenses, when warranted

  • Answer questions and offer general assistance

CRC and Satellite locations and operating hours are:

Location

Hours of Operation

Marathon City Marina
800 35th St. Ocean
Marathon, FL 33050

Daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., curfew permitting

Morgan Insurance Group
31109 Avenue A, Suite 4
Big Pine Key, FL 33043

Daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Sunday, September 24

Murray Nelson Government Center
102050 Overseas Highway
Key Largo, FL 33037

Daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Walmart Parking Lot
1425 NE 163rd St.
North Miami Beach, FL 33162

Daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

 

Notes:

  • Refer to the Citizen Hurricane Irma webpage for more information and to verify CRC locations and hours of operation.

  • Policyholders unable to travel to a CRC can call Citizens' claims hotline 24/7 at 866.411.2742 or contact their agent.

Disaster Recovery Centers

A Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) has opened in the following county:

St. Johns County
UF Wind Mitigation “Hurricane House”
3111 Agricultural Center Drive
St. Augustine, FL 32092
, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday until further notice.

To speed recovery, survivors are urged to register before visiting a DRC. To register, go online to DisasterAssistance.gov or call the FEMA helpline 800-621-3362. Help is available in most languages and phone lines are open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. EST seven days a week until further notice.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), volunteer groups and other agencies are at the centers to answer questions about disaster assistance and low-interest disaster loans for homeowners, renters and businesses. They can also help survivors apply for federal disaster assistance.

Disaster survivors who use a TTY may call 800-462-7585 to register. Those who use 711 or Video Relay Service or require accommodations while visiting a center may call 800-621-3362. All disaster recovery centers are accessible and equipped with tools to accommodate disaster survivors who need disability-related communication aids. Each disaster recovery center has assistive technologies for people with disabilities.

Low-interest disaster loans from the SBA are available for businesses of all sizes, nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters. Disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or grants.

For more information, applicants may contact the SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center by calling 800-659-2955, emailing to DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov or by visiting the SBA’s website at sba.gov/disaster. Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals may call 800-877-8339.

FEMA – Operation Blue Roof

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, has been tasked by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist eligible homeowners with temporary roof repairs. The program, named Operation Blue Roof, provides a temporary covering of blue plastic sheeting to help reduce further damage to property until permanent repairs can be made. The blue plastic sheeting is installed using strips of wood that are secured to the roof with nails or screws.

Only primary residences that have standard shingled roofs are eligible to receive a temporary blue roof. Metal roofs and mobile homes will be repaired as practical on a case by case basis, and roofs with greater than 50 percent structural damage are not eligible for this program.

This program is available at no cost to eligible primary homeowners in Broward, Charlotte, Collier, Dade, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Monroe, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota, counties. Renters must obtain legal permission to continue occupying the residence until more permanent repairs are made.

Homeowners must sign a Right of Entry (ROE) form to allow government employees and contractors onto their property to assess damage and install the temporary covering. ROE collection centers will be set up by Corps teams in convenient neighborhood locations. Updated information about collection center locations in each county will be distributed daily.

Right of Entry collection centers are located at:
COLLIER COUNTY:
2800 North Horseshoe Dr., Naples, FL 34104 and
The Growth Center, 310 Alachua St., Immokalee, FL 34142

DADE COUNTY:
Lowe's Home Improvement
1850 NE 8th St., Homestead, FL

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY:
Seffner-Mano Branch Library
410 N. Kingsway Rd., Seffner, FL

LEE COUNTY:
Lowe’s Home Improvement, 8040 Dani Dr., Fort Myers, FL 33966

PINELLAS COUNTY:
12629 Ulmerton Rd., Largo, FL 33774

SARASOTA COUNTY:
Bee Ridge Park, 4430 South Lockwood Ridge Road, Sarasota, FL 34231

Centers are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

Additional locations may be added as necessary.

Current information is available on the Jacksonville District Web site at www.saj.usace.army.mil/BlueRoof and at 1-888-ROOF-BLU (1-888-766-3258). Information is provided in both English and Spanish through this single number.

View Frequently Asked Questions about Operation Blue Roof at https://www.fema.gov/news-release/2017/09/17/4337/frequently-asked-questions-about-operation-blue-roof.

FEMA – Transitional Sheltering Assistance & Rental Assistance

FEMA is making Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) available to eligible survivors in the state of Florida, who are unable to return to their pre-disaster primary residence because their home is either uninhabitable or inaccessible. TSA provides disaster survivors with a short-term stay in a hotel or motel.

Through direct payments to lodging providers, TSA is intended to reduce the number of disaster survivors in shelters by transitioning survivors into short-term accommodations.

Eligible survivors can find the list of TSA-approved hotels on www.DisasterAssistance.gov, and click on the Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) Program – Participating Hotel List link. If internet access is unavailable, the FEMA Helpline (1-800-621-3362) can assist with locating a participating property. Survivors should contact the hotel directly to secure a hotel room prior to traveling to the hotel.

Rental Assistance. Assistance through FEMA’s Individual and Households Program may be available to eligible applicants to secure temporary housing while repairs are being made to the pre-disaster primary residence, or while transitioning to permanent housing while applicant survivor is displaced from their primary residence.

Disaster Distress Helpline

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Disaster Distress Helpline (1-800-985-5990) remains open 24/7 for free help coping with the stress of the storm. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories. Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions after a disaster.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance

Disaster Unemployment Assistance is available for Florida residents whose jobs were affected by Hurricane Irma, specifically those who live or work in the counties included in the major disaster declaration. This may include people not normally eligible for unemployment benefits, such as self-employed persons and farm-workers. They can apply for unemployment benefits online at Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity.

You must provide the following information to complete an application:

  • Social Security number.

  • Alien registration number and expiration date (if applicable).

  • Name and address of your last employer.

  • If you worked in another state during the past two years, have the name and address of the out-of-state employer.

  • If self-employed and have proof of self-employment for the past two years. (For example, W-2 statements, state or federal tax returns, bank records of accounts, statement from a bank showing your business account, or a copy of title or deed to a business property.)

  • If you were scheduled to work but could not work due to the disaster, you must have the name and address of the employer and date you were scheduled to work.

Immediate Foreclosure Relief

Immediate Foreclosure Relief from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) may be available for Florida residents in disaster-designated areas. HUD is granting a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures and forbearance on foreclosures of Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured home mortgages. HUD is also offering longer-term recovery assistance to survivors and impacted communities. For more information, visit http://www.hud.gov and http://espanol.hud.gov.

Also, Florida has two HUD Field Offices:

Jacksonville Office
Charles E. Bennett Federal Building
400 W. Bay Street, Suite 1015
Jacksonville, FL 32202
Phone: (904) 232-2627
Fax: (904) 232-3759
Office Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday

Miami Office
Brickell Plaza Federal Building
909 SE First Avenue,
Room 500
Miami, FL 33131-3028
Phone: (305)536-4456
Fax: (305) 536-5765
TTY: (305) 536-4743
Office Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday

Small Business Administration Business Recovery Centers in Florida

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the opening of Business Recovery Centers (BRCs) listed below:

Representatives at the Centers can provide information about disaster loans, answer questions and assist businesses in completing the SBA application. The Centers are located as indicated below and will operate until further notice.

Duval County
Beaver Street Enterprise Center
728 Blanche Street, Bldg. 2
Jacksonville, FL 32204
Hours: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m., Monday - Saturday
Closed: Sundays

Pinellas County
The EpiCenter-Pinellas County Economic Development Center
13805 58th Street North
Clearwater, FL 33760
Hours: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m., Monday - Saturday
Closed: Sundays

FEMA/SBA Disaster Recovery Center (DRC)
St. Johns County

Wind Mitigation Building
3111 Agricultural Center Drive
St. Augustine, FL 32092
Hours: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m., Monday - Saturday

Primary Counties: Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, Columbia, DeSoto, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Levy, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Nassau, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Saint Johns, Saint Lucie, Sarasota, Seminole, Sumter, Suwannee, Union and Volusia; and for Economic Injury Only: Dixie, Hamilton, Lafayette and Madison;

Additional information about the disaster loan program may be obtained by calling SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955, or 800-877-8339 for TYY users, or by sending an email to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Loan applications can be downloaded from www.sba.gov. Completed applications should be returned to a recovery center or mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

SBA Customer Service Center: 1-800-659-2955
Hours: 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. (ET), Monday - Friday
9 a.m. - 5 p.m. (ET), Saturday and Sunday

The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is November 9, 2017. The deadline to return economic injury applications is June 11, 2018.

For more information about the SBA’s Disaster Loan Program, visit their website at www.sba.gov/disaster.

Small Business Administration (SBA) Individual Disaster Loans

Loans from the SBA may be available to help repair flood-related damage to homes or businesses and replace personal property. The SBA provides low-interest disaster loans of up to $200,000 to repair a primary residence, up to $40,000 for homeowners and renters to replace personal property. Survivors need to register with FEMA first to determine their eligibility for any federal assistance that may be available. You can register online at https://www.DisasterAssistance.gov

Small Business Administration – Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) has launched the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to support businesses impacted by Hurricane Irma to provide short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses that experienced physical or economic damage during the storm. To complete an application by the October 31, 2017, deadline, visit www.floridadisasterloan.org.

  • These short-term, interest-free working capital loans are intended to “bridge the gap” between the time a major catastrophe hits and when a business has secured longer term recovery resources, such as sufficient profits from a revived business, receipt of payments on insurance claims, or Federal disaster assistance.

  • Loan amounts can be from $1,000 to $25,000. The loan term is 90 or 180 days based on individual business circumstances. Loans will be interest-free for the loan term but must be repaid in full by the end of the loan term or penalties apply.

  • The Florida SBDC Network is the point-of-contact for any for-profit business that needs an Emergency Bridge Loan. To locate your nearest SBDC, visit thelocation near contact the Florida Small Business Development Center Network (FSBDCN) at 850-898-3489 or email Disaster@FloridaSBDC.org.

State of Florida Business Damage Assessment: The State of Florida has initiated a survey which will help determine the physical and economic impact to businesses from Hurricane Irma.

This survey is now live. If your business has been impacted by Irma, we encourage you to fill out the survey. This will assist State/Local authorities in determining the scope of impact and what type, if any, of additional financial assistance to provide to businesses.
The survey is available in English, Spanish, and Creole.

The English version is available online here:
http://www.flvbeoc.org/index.php?action=bda

Si usted prefiere completar la encuesta en español, esta disponible aquí: http://www.flvbeoc.org/index.php?action=bda&lang=sp

SBA Disaster Assistance: Businesses located in the impacted areas are eligible for both Physical and Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for damages from Hurricane Irma.

  • Businesses and private nonprofit organizations of any size may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets.

  • Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible up to $40,000 to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed personal property.

  • Applicants may be eligible for a loan amount increase up to 20 percent of their physical damages, as verified by the SBA for mitigation purposes.

  • Loans are also available for businesses that did not receive physical damage but were economically impacted due to the disaster.

  • Interest rates are as low as 3.305 percent for businesses and 2.5 percent for nonprofit organizations, 1.75 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

  • More information is available at: https://www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance

  • Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via the SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

It is recommended you apply with FEMA (www.disasterassistance.gov) before submitting a loan application to the SBA.

Legal Assistance from the Florida Bar

The Florida Bar is offering assistance for people affected by Hurricane Irma, who may not be able to afford an attorney. The hotline operates through a partnership with FEMA, The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division, and the American Bar Association. The hotline number is 1-866-550-2929. For additional information, you may review the information located at https://www.floridabar.org/public/hurricaneinfo/.

Price Gouging

On September 4, 2017, Governor Rick Scott issued Executive Order 17-235, declaring a 60-day state of emergency for all counties in the state of Florida for Hurricane Irma.

The order prohibits price gouging for any essential commodity and instances should be reported to the Attorney General’s Office at 1-866-966-7226.

Federal Aid Programs for the State of Florida

The following list is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs.

Assistance for Affected Individuals and Families Can Include as Required:

  • Rental payments for temporary housing for those whose homes are unlivable. Initial assistance may be provided for up to three months for homeowners and at least one month for renters. Assistance may be extended if requested after the initial period based on a review of individual applicant requirements.

  • Grants for home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance to make damaged dwellings safe, sanitary and functional.

  • Grants to replace personal property and help meet medical, dental, funeral, transportation and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance or other federal, municipality and charitable aid programs.

  • Unemployment payments up to 26 weeks for workers who temporarily lost jobs because of the disaster and who do not qualify for state benefits, such as self-employed individuals.

  • Low-interest loans to cover residential losses not fully compensated by insurance. Loans available up to $200,000 for primary residence; $40,000 for personal property, including renter losses. Loans available up to $2 million for business property losses not fully compensated by insurance.

  • Loans up to $2 million for small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes that have suffered disaster-related cash flow problems and need funds for working capital to recover from the disaster's adverse economic impact. This loan in combination with a property loss loan cannot exceed a total of $2 million.

  • Loans up to $500,000 for farmers, ranchers and aquaculture operators to cover production and property losses, excluding primary residence.

  • Other relief programs: Crisis counseling for those traumatized by the disaster; income tax assistance for filing casualty losses; advisory assistance for legal, veterans’ benefits and social security matters.

How to Apply for Assistance:
Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in the designated area can begin applying for assistance by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Disaster assistance applicants, who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY, should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; for those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.

NFIP Flood Insurance Claims Information

If you have flood damage caused by Florida’s recent hurricanes, and you are insured through the National Flood Insurance Program, CFO Jimmy Patronis encourages you to closely monitor the insurance claims process after reporting your loss.

Here are some tips to guide you through the flood insurance claims process to ensure you receive all eligible insurance funds for your recovery.

What to Do Before an Adjuster Visits

  • Take pictures of all the damage.

  • If you have coverage for personal property, make a list of the damaged items. Remember, you may need receipts or credit card records to prove ownership of certain items..

  • After taking photos, immediately dispose of flood-damaged items which pose a health risk, such as perishable food items, clothing, cushions and pillows. Cut off and keep a 12-square-inch sample of building materials like carpets and drywall to show your flood adjuster, and set aside other damaged personal property items like furniture, televisions and electronics.

  • Have documents related to your damage ready for inspection. This may include contractor’s estimates and/or repair receipts.

  • Also keep a record of the claim number issued to you by your insurer.

What Happens During an Adjuster’s Visit

  • An insurance adjuster will contact you as soon as possible to schedule an appointment.

  • Ask to see the adjuster’s official identification when he or she visits.

  • The adjuster will take measurements and photographs and document your damage. They will provide you with their contact information and, if required, the adjuster may revisit your property.

  • After your home is inspected, the adjuster will complete the covered estimate and provide you with a copy.

  • A FEMA inspector or flood insurance adjuster will never ask for money, approve or disapprove claims, or tell you whether your flood insurance company will approve your claim.

What Happens After an Adjuster’s Visit

  • The adjuster will collect all the necessary information and documentation during the initial visit and will contact the policyholder as the claim progresses to an agreement and closure.

  • If you disagree with the resolution of your claim, ask the adjuster to show how they arrived at the figure(s) and explain the coverage if an item was excluded from payment, even though you feel it should be covered.

  • If the adjuster and insured are unable to come to an amicable agreement, the policyholder may hire an independent contractor to prepare an estimate for flood related damage. If you obtain another estimate, provide the adjuster with a copy immediately.

  • If you disagree with the resolution of your claim, you may appeal the amount to FEMA as outlined in the Flood Insurance Claims Handbook at https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1409252356253-ee460a21e69333f01eea03a8f55eb3c6/F-687_ClaimsHandbook_508XI_Aug2014.pdf

Claim Disputes

If your Flood insurance coverage is provided by an insurance company from the private insurance market and you have a claim dispute, please call our toll-free Insurance Consumer Helpline at 1-877-693-5236. One of our insurance specialists will be happy to contact your insurance company on your behalf to assist in resolving your claim. You may also consider participating in our Mediation Program to seek resolution. Additional information about our Mediation Program can be obtained here.

If your Flood insurance coverage is provided by the National Flood Insurance Program either directly or through a “Write Your Own Company” and you have a claim dispute, you must follow FEMA’s claim dispute process outlined in their Flood Insurance Claims Handbook.

 

Visit www.floodsmart.gov to obtain additional information about flood insurance provided by the National Flood Insurance Program.

Contact your Homeowner’s Insurance Company to obtain additional information about flood insurance provided by the voluntary market.

National Flood Insurance Program – Proof of Loss Extension

FEMA issued bulletin W-17040, to all Write Your Own (WYO) Insurance Companies, Direct Servicing Agents and Independent Adjusting Firms, giving authorization to waive the proof of loss requirements in Florida for losses resulting from Hurricane Irma. Direction was given to exercise their options to accept an adjuster’s report to pay a claim. Additionally, the requirement that the policyholder sign the adjuster’s report is waived.

WYO Companies must provide the policyholder with the following:

1) A copy of the adjuster’s report supporting the claim payment;

2) If the payment is less than the adjuster’s report, a written explanation of the difference; and

3) A letter from the adjuster that accompanies the claim payment check advising the acceptance of the check does not waive any of their rights to seek further payments under their flood insurance policy. The letter also provides direction to request additional payments by submitting a Proof of Loss within one year following the date of loss. The letter offers help from the NFIP in submitting the Proof of Loss. Additional information can be located at https://www.fema.gov/nfip-file-your-claim.

This conditional waiver doesn’t alter a policyholder’s ability to submit a proof of loss seeking supplemental payment.

National Flood Insurance Program – Personal Property Enhanced Claims-Handling Process (Standard Flood Insurance Policy Only)

FEMA issued bulletin W-17043, to all Write Your Own (WYO) Insurance Companies, Direct Servicing Agents, and Adjusting Firms.

Adjusters can only apply the described method to residential personal property (contents) claims under a Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP) Dwelling Form arising from Hurricane Irma. Adjusters should:

  • Group similar personal property (contents) items by room and provide descriptions to support the quality. Example groupings: furniture, textiles, electronics, toiletries, large appliances, small appliances, clothing, accessories, dishes, cookware, exercise and sports equipment, outdoor items, holiday items.
  • Take comprehensive photos to document the damage to the personal property on a room-by-room basis of the grouped personal property items. Photograph labels of model and serial numbers on high-value items when available.
  • Remember that the SFIP only pays the functional value of antiques; however, the replacement cost for these items should be for an item equivalent in quality. For example, an antique dresser may be valued at $20,000 due to the item’s age and condition; the adjuster will estimate the value of a dresser of similar quality that is available today.
  • List high-value items separately and provide information to support the value; for example, for a $10,000 couch, include photos of the label. If there is a question concerning the value of an item, invoices, canceled checks, or credit card charges may be used to document the value.
  • Group Special Limit items separately.
  • Apply depreciation by category rather than by item, except high-value items. The adjuster can use IRS Depreciation Tables as a guide; however, the adjuster should use their judgement to determine the fair and reasonable depreciation and base the depreciation on the age and condition of the item at the time of loss.
  • Apply local sales tax to the total inventory.
  • Provide the inventory to the policyholder(s) for agreement. Once the policyholder agrees, submit the claim to the insurance company for payment.
  • If items are hauled away prior to the adjuster’s inspection, an adjuster should base the estimate on what is normally found in a home using their best professional judgment.
  • If the policyholder disagrees with the adjuster’s estimate, the policyholder will be required to prove their loss by providing receipts, photographs, and related documentation. The policyholder(s) has the option to provide a complete inventory that includes a detailed description of the item(s), the age, and the cost to replace the item with like kind and quality at current pricing. If the policyholder(s) only agrees with part of the estimate, this should not preclude payment of the undisputed amount to the policyholder based on the amount detailed in the enhanced adjustment process.

PRIOR LOSSES FOR ONE-TO-FOUR FAMILY DWELLINGS

The adjuster may only apply the described method to residential claims under a Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP) Dwelling Form arising from Hurricane Irma.

When adjusting a one-to-four family dwelling, where there is evidence of completed repairs to damage from prior flood losses, FEMA is not requiring the adjuster to obtain the prior loss claim file before adjusting the claim. FEMA is relying on the flood adjuster and insurer personnel to evaluate the extent of evidence demonstrating prior repairs. If the adjuster cannot easily make this determination, a review of a prior loss claim file(s) or receipts should be recommended to the insurer. The adjuster should provide the insurer with adequate documentation and photographs of any unrepaired prior damage to the best of their ability and take a non-waiver agreement where necessary. (The purpose of the non-waiver agreement is to prevent the policyholder from arguing, at a later date, that over the course of the insurer's investigation of the claim, the policyholder was led to believe that the claim would be covered, and consequently, the insurer should be precluded from denying coverage.)

National Flood Insurance Program - Grace Period for Premium Payment

FEMA issued bulletin W – 17041 to all Write Your Own (WYO) Insurance Companies and Direct Servicing Agents providing notice of certain extended grace periods for premium payments.

The 30-day grace period for receipt of the renewal payment after a policy’s expiration date, or the due date for receipt of any additional premium resulting from an underpayment, is changed to 120 calendar days. For renewal payments, this extension applies to policies with expiration dates on or between August 7, 2017, and October 6, 2017. This extension also applies to policies with underpayment notices for additional premium payment due on or between August 7, 2017, and October 6, 2017.

This waiver applies to all NFIP policies, whether issued by the NFIP Servicing Agent or a WYO Insurance Company, written for properties in counties in Florida that have received a Major Disaster Declaration for Individual Assistance (IA). A current list of declared IA counties for this disaster can be located on the FEMA website at:

For example, for a policy insuring a property located in an affected area with a policy expiration date of August 7, 2017, the renewal premium payment would have to be received by the NFIP insurer or sent via certified mail on or before December 4, 2017. For a policy expiring on or after October 7, 2017, the normal 30-day grace period for receipt of the renewal premium will apply.

Affected policyholders should keep in mind that the NFIP cannot pay a claim for flood loss that occurs after the policy expiration date unless the NFIP insurer receives the renewal premium on or before the last day of the grace period as extended by this waiver. This limited waiver of a grace period does not waive any other provision of the SFIP.

National Flood Insurance Program - Advance Claim Payments

FEMA issued bulletin W-17039 to all Write Your Own (WYO) Insurance Companies, Direct Servicing Agents and, Independent Adjusting Firms and applies only to Hurricane Irma Claims. The NFIP will issue advanced payments only for individuals covered under the Standard Florida Insurance Policy (SFIP). Advanced payments may be issued as provided below:

I. Advance Payment Opportunity One: Pre-adjuster Inspection

Once a policyholder provides a notice of loss, an insurer may offer an advance payment after confirming coverages and deductibles and validating that the insured property has flooded. Such advance payment may not exceed $5,000.

An insurer may offer an advance payment of up to $20,000 if the policyholder also provides the following documentation:

1) Photographs depicting flood damage to covered property; and

2) Either:

a) Documentation verifying out-of-pocket expenses related to the repair or replacement of covered property, such as receipts or canceled checks; or

b) A contractor’s itemized damage estimate.

II. Advance Payment Opportunity Two: Payment for Significant Damage

An insurer may offer a larger advance payment of up to 50 percent of the contractor’s estimate prior to receiving a proof of loss if:

1) The insurer receives a contractor’s estimate of necessary repairs on an item-by-item basis for the insured property; and

2) A flood insurance adjuster retained by the insurer has inspected the insured property.

Advance Payment Guidance

For all options, the insurer must notify the policyholder in writing of the following conditions:

1) The advance payment is not a payment for Additional Living Expenses (ALE). The SFIP specifically excludes ALE.

2) The issuance and acceptance of an advance payment does not prejudice or waive any claim or defense available to either the insured or insurer.

3) The issuance and acceptance of an advance payment does not constitute an admission of coverage under the policy.

4) To the best of the policyholder’s knowledge, the insured property suffered a covered loss.

5) If the loss is determined not to be a covered loss, or if the advance payment exceeds the amount of the actual covered loss, the policyholder recognizes that they are not eligible for the payment and agrees to repay the advance payment (or portion thereof).

6) Acceptance of an advance payment will not affect the policyholder’s right to seek additional payment under the terms and conditions of the SFIP.

7) After the claim is settled, the insurer will reduce the final payment by the amount of any advance(s) made to the policyholder.

8) The insurer must include any mortgagee shown on the Declaration Page of the policy or any known mortgagee on the building property at the time of advance payment.

9) To finalize the claim, the policyholder must execute a proof of loss that meets the requirements of the SFIP for all amounts received, including the amount of the advance payment, except as may otherwise be authorized by the Administrator under any other applicable waiver.

III. Written, Verbal, or Electronic Requests for Advance Payment

FEMA strongly recommends that a WYO Insurance Company and the NFIP Direct Servicing Agent accept a verbal or electronic request for advance payment. However, the insurer may also accept a written request. In order to accept a written, verbal, or electronic request for advance payment, a WYO Company or the Direct Servicing Agent must:

1) Verify the identity of the requester.

2) Advise the policyholder of the conditions listed under “Advance Payment Guidance,” below.

3) Advise the policyholder that completion and signature of the Advance Payment Request is not required for this event.

An advance payment based on a written, verbal, or electronic request must be accompanied by a letter from the insurer notifying the policyholder of the following:

By accepting this payment, you (the policyholder) acknowledge to the following:

1) The investigation of your loss is not complete at this time. Even though your insurer is providing this advance payment, it does not admit liability or approve coverage under your flood insurance policy.

2) After the investigation of your claim, your insurer may deny your claim pursuant to your flood insurance policy. If the insurer denies your claim, you agree to reimburse your insurer the full amount of any advance payments received.

3) If your final claim settlement is equal to or less than the amount you received as an advance payment, your insurer will reduce the final settlement amount by the amount you received as an advance payment.

4) If your final claim settlement is less than the amount you received as an advance payment, you agree to reimburse your insurer the difference between the final settlement amount and the amount you received as an advance payment.

5) You must finalize your claim by submitting a proof of loss or other type of request for payment authorized under your policy, except as may otherwise be authorized by the Administrator under any other applicable waiver.

6) Accepting this payment does not change or modify any of the conditions, terms, or provisions, contained in your flood insurance policy, nor does doing so alter in any way the obligations

Under any one of the three methods, the insurer should obtain information from the insured as to how much advance payment is requested under Coverage A – Building and/or Coverage B – Personal Property that their insured property experienced a flood loss covered by their SFIP, their policy number, and their coverage limits.

If a WYO Insurance Company makes an advance payment in accordance with the terms and conditions of this bulletin, FEMA will not hold the Company responsible for ineligible payments. The WYO Insurance Company must make its best effort to recoup the funds, but if unable to do so, the recoupment will be referred to FEMA for appropriate action. However, if a WYO Insurance Company makes an advance payment without complying with the terms and conditions set forth in this bulletin that results in any unauthorized payment, the WYO Insurance Company will be responsible for the erroneous payment.

The insurer must obtain accurate information regarding a temporary address from the insured or the insured’s representative when the claim is reported. The insurer should send the advance payment to the location of the insured, which may be a temporary address.

Consumer Tips to Recover After a Loss
  • If it is safe, carefully assess your home and property for damage. As soon as you are able, take pictures of any damage. These photos will be helpful when filing an insurance claim. Maintain copies of your household inventory and other documentation. This will assist the adjuster in assessing the value of the destroyed property.

  • If you have damage, contact your insurance company directly as soon as possible to file a claim. Insurance adjusters have already been deployed into impacted areas to help manage your claims.

  • Do not allow a third party, such as a water remediation firm or contractor to contact your insurance company for you.

  • If you are asked to sign an Assignment of Benefits form by a contractor, make sure you read it carefully and understand clearly what rights and benefits under your insurance policy you may be signing away. You do not need to sign an AOB in order to get your insurance claim processed or your residence repaired.

  • Signing over your insurance benefits to a contractor may cause an increase in costs for which you could be left on the hook. Make sure that you stay in control of the home insurance policy you bought and paid for – and do not sign away that control to a third party who may not have your best interests at heart.

  • When possible, take steps to make temporary repairs that can help prevent further damage from occurring. Keep your receipts for any repairs or supplies you purchase. You may be reimbursed as part of your claim.

Additional Tips

Be Aware of Fraud and Scams

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, Floridians should be aware and cautious of potential fraud, scams, identity theft and price gouging. Following a storm, scam artists and those looking to take advantage of persons in need are more prevalent and you must be more vigilant.

Below are a few tips to protect yourself from potential fraud and scams:

Home Repair

  • Use reputable and licensed contractors. To determine if a contractor is licensed, visit the Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s licensee search.

  • Ensure that contractors carry the proper liability and workers’ compensation insurance by visiting the Division of Workers’ Compensation website.

  • Beware of contractors requesting that you pay more than half of the cost upfront.

Charitable Donation Scam

  • Before responding to solicitations for donations, ensure that the charity is legitimate by reviewing the Gift Givers’ Guide.

  • Contact the charity directly to determine if the person requesting the donations is an employee or volunteer.

  • Request a receipt with the charity’s name, street address and phone number.

Disaster Assistance

  • Beware of persons impersonating Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), state or local representatives. Official personnel should display their identification badges; should provide identification without hesitation, if asked; and say why they are in the area (i.e. surveying damage, providing assistance to residents, etc.). Representatives should not request cash for services or personal information, such as your Social Security Number, bank account information, etc.

  • If you are in need of assistance from FEMA, contact the FEMA helpline at 1-800-621-3362 or contact your local emergency management organization.

  • If you suspect that someone is impersonating FEMA, state or local personnel, call 911 or contact the local police department or sheriff’s office immediately.

Price Gouging

  • Be cautious of businesses with inflated prices on essential items such as gas. Price gouging is prohibited and instances should be reported to the Attorney General’s Office at 1-866-966-7226.

Additional Tips:

  • Be on alert! Scammers will pop up after a storm. Be on alert for them. Call the Department of Financial Services’ Consumer Helpline at 1-877-693-5236.
  • Be wary of fly-by-night repair companies. A quick fix is not always a good thing. Ask to see the identification and professional license of anyone who comes to your house offering to help with repairs. You can verify a contractor’s license and check to see if there are any complaints against them by calling the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation at (850) 487-1395. Also ask for references from previous work and be sure to report unlicensed contractors.
  • All legitimate contractors must carry insurance. Ask for proof of liability and workers’ compensation coverage, then verify it by calling the Division of Workers’ Compensation at 1-800-742-2214.
  • Don’t rush into signing a contract. If you hire someone to make repairs, fully read all work agreements before signing. Ask questions until you fully understand the documents and ask directly whether you as the homeowner or your insurance company will be responsible for payment. Be on the lookout for language that gives the contractor the right to communicate or negotiate directly with your insurance company or language that requires all claim proceeds to be made payable to the contractor.
  • If someone calls you on the phone asking for personal information, ask for a call-back number and hang up. Do not provide any information immediately. Legitimate organizations will cooperate.
  • Do not post personal details on social media sites. Post to let friends and family know that you’re safe, but do not post your home address and do not advertise that you are away from home. Criminals are opportunists! They know that an empty home is an easy target!
  • If you encounter suspicious activity of any kind, report it immediately! If it’s happening to you, it’s happening to someone else, too. Call our Consumer Helpline to report fraud at 1-877-693-5236.
Natural Disaster Guide - Are You Prepared?

Natural Disaster: Your guide to insurance and financial preparation in the event of a natural disaster.Hurricanes aren't the only disasters that Floridians need to be prepared for each year. Wildfires, floods, tornadoes and sinkhloles are other reasons why it pays to make sure your homeowners' insurance is adequate, and that your financial interests are up-to-date and protected.

This guide contains information that can be extremely valuable in the event of a natural disaster.

Available for download in English and Spanish

Emergency Financial Preparedness Toolkit

An important aspect of disaster preparedness is financial preparedness.  This toolkit is designed to help you organize your financial information before and after a disaster.

An important aspect of disaster preparedness is financial preparedness. This toolkit is designed to help you organize your financial information before and after a disaster.

Available for Download in English, Spanish or Creole

 

Disaster Assistance Brochure

Disaster Assistance: This brochure offers tips on dealing with damage from hurricanes and other natural disasters, including numbers to call for assistance with insurance issues.

This brochure offers tips on dealing with damage from hurricanes and other natural disasters, including numbers to call for assistance with insurance issues.

Available for Download in English or Spanish

 

Generator Brochure

Generators:A generator can be your best friend during a hurricane or prolonged power outage. But misused generators can be deadly-causing fires, electrocution or carbon monoxide poisoning.

A generator can be your best friend during a hurricane or prolonged power outage. But misused generators can lead to deadly-causing fires, electrocution or carbon monoxide poisoning.

Available for Download in English, Spanish or Creole

 

 

Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights

Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights: Find out what your rights are as a residential property policyholder under the Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights.

Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights:

Find out what your rights are as a residential property policyholder under the Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights.

Available for Download in English or Spanish

 

Homeowners' Insurance - A Toolkit For Consumers

Homeowners Insurance: This toolkit provides helpful suggestions to prepare you for any type of claim that involves the largest investment you’ve made - your home.

This toolkit provides helpful suggestions to prepare you for any type of claim that involves the largest investment you’ve made - your home.

Available for Download in English or Spanish

 

 

Renters' Insurance

Florida Renter's Insurance

This toolkit provides information to assist you with insuring your personal property. It also contains tools to assist you if you have a covered loss.

Available for Download in English or Spanish

 

 

State and National Resources

SHELTER / EVACUATIONS / POWER / FUEL / SCHOOL CLOUSURES:

  • Florida Division of Emergency Management

    State Emergency Response Team (SERT)

    Website: www.floridadisaster.org
    Telephone Number: 1-800-342-3557

OTHER RESOURCES:

State Agencies

Florida Emergency Information Line (FEIL): 1-800-342-3557

Florida Relay Service: Individuals who make calls using the Florida Relay Service should dial 711.

  • Agency for Health Care Administration
    Consumer Complaint, Publication and Information Call Center: 888-419-3456 / 800-955-8771 (Florida Relay Service)
    Website: www.ahca.myflorida.com

  • Agency for Persons with Disabilities
    Toll-Free: 1-866-APD-CARES or 1-866-273-2273
    CDC+ Program Customer Service: 1-888-329-2731
    Website: www.apd.myflorida.com

  • Agency for State Technology
    Website: www.ast.myflorida.com

 

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