July 2014 Florida Legislature passes new laws for Florida homeowner’s insurance. Following are some of the changes that are now required under this new law:

1. Receive from your insurance company an acknowledgment of your reported claim within 14 days after the time you communicated the claim.
2. Upon written request, receive from your insurance company within 30 days after you have submitted a complete proof-of-loss statement to your insurance company, confirmation that your claim is covered in full, partially covered, or denied, or receive a written statement that your claim is being investigated.
3. Within 90 days, subject to any dual interest noted in the policy, receive full settlement payment for your claim or payment of the undisputed portion of your claim, or your insurance company’s denial of your claim.
4. Free mediation of your disputed claim by the Florida Department of Financial Services Division of Consumer Services, under most circumstances and subject to certain restrictions.
5. Neutral evaluation of your disputed claim, if your claim is for damage caused by a sinkhole and is covered by your policy.
6. Contact the Florida Department of Financial Services Division of Consumer Services’ toll-free helpline (1-877-693-5236) for assistance with any insurance claim or questions pertaining to the handling of your claim. You can also seek assistance online at the Florida Department of Financial Services Division of Consumer Services’ website

It is always important that you consider the following guidelines if you think you have a homeowners insurance claim:
1. Contact your insurance company before entering into any contract for repairs to confirm any managed repair policy provisions or optional preferred vendors.
2. Make and document emergency repairs that are necessary to prevent further damage. Keep the damaged property, if feasible, keep all receipts, and take photographs of damage before and after any repairs.
3. Carefully read any contract that requires you to pay out-of-pocket expenses or a fee that is based on a percentage of the insurance proceeds that you will receive for repairing or replacing your property.
4. Confirm that the contractor you choose is licensed to do business in Florida. You can verify a contractor’s license and check to see if there are any complaints against him or her by calling the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. You should also ask the contractor for references from previous work.
5. Require all contractors to provide proof of insurance before beginning repairs.
6. Take precautions if the damage requires you to leave your home, including securing your property and turning off your gas, water, and electricity, and contacting your insurance company and provide a phone number where you can be reached.

For further answers to how this new bill of rights may affect you and your homeowners insurance policy please call us at any of our three Southwest Florida insurance offices.