Owning a home can be a significant financial responsibility. Savvy homeowners like you mitigate the potential financial risks by getting home insurance on their property. However, this coverage only helps you if the insurance company responds to your claim when your property is damaged.
That’s why Florida legislators implemented the Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights (HCBOR). The HCBOR is a part of Florida’s insurance legislation that explicitly explains homeowners’ rights and responsibilities when they need to file a home insurance policy claim. It’s designed to give homeowners a clear overview of the treatment their insurance company owes them and what they owe their insurer in return.
The Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights can make all the difference to your insurance claim – if you understand it. Here’s what you need to know about what the HCBOR guarantees and what it requires you to do.
Your Rights When Filing Home Insurance Claims
So, what does this document do for Florida homeowners? It guarantees you important privileges when something happens to your home and you request insurance funds to make repairs. The rights you’re guaranteed under this bill include:
- The right to receive an acknowledgment of your claim. The insurer needs to let you know they’ve received your claim within 14 calendar days of your submission. This acknowledgment is required, so you know that your claim is being processed and you don’t need to resubmit it.
- The right to receive confirmation of your claim’s coverage status. The insurer has to let you know if your claim is covered in full, in part, denied, or being investigated within 30 days of the submission of a complete Proof of Loss Statement. Investigations are permitted because insurance companies may need more than 30 days to determine whether a claim is covered in whole or part, particularly after a natural disaster when scheduling adjuster inspections may be more challenging.
- The right to receive payment or denial in a timely fashion. Insurers must provide payment or a written denial of your claim within 90 days of submission. This right protects you from having to live in a damaged home and delay repairs for longer than necessary.
- The right to receive interest on your claim if you do not receive payment in a timely fashion. If the insurer doesn’t pay you within 90 days of your claim, they must add interest to the payment backdated to the date of your submission. It continues to accrue until your claim is paid. Interest must be paid at the same time as the rest of the payment is provided.
You also have the right to dispute your insurance company’s decisions and have your claims evaluated by a third party. In short, the Homeowners Claims Bill of Rights affirms that you are owed fair, efficient, and accurate payment for approved claims and timely communication about the process.
Your Responsibilities for Filing Home Insurance Claims
In exchange for protecting your rights, the Homeowners Claims Bill of Rights also identifies responsibilities you owe your insurance company. You need to complete these tasks to give your insurer a fair opportunity to inspect your claim. Your responsibilities include:
- The responsibility to file claims directly with your insurer. You need to submit your claims to your insurance company, so it has the information necessary to promptly acknowledge and investigate the claim. You may report the incident elsewhere, but you are responsible for informing your insurer, not your home repair contractors.
- The duty to protect your property after an incident. If your home is damaged so severely it’s uninhabitable, you need to protect it while you aren’t present by turning off water, gas, and electricity, locking your doors and windows where possible, and giving your insurer a phone number where you can be contacted.
- The obligation to make document emergency repairs. You must make any repairs that are necessary to protect your property from further damage as soon as possible to minimize the overall harm. You also need to document those repairs, including keeping receipts and invoices and holding onto materials removed or used while making critical fixes.
- The duty to contact your insurer before you start serious repairs. Before you pursue long-term repairs, you need to report the incident to your insurance company to learn what you need to know about your policy’s repair provisions. This ensures you don’t violate those provisions and complicate the claim.
- The obligation to read all contracts for your home repairs carefully. Unscrupulous contractors may use contracts that require you to pay out-of-pocket for repairs or charge fees based on your insurance proceeds. Read the agreement carefully to ensure the contractors are charging fairly before signing.
- The responsibility to verify contractors. You must work with contractors who are licensed in Florida and have proof of on-the-job insurance. It is your responsibility to check that your contractors meet these criteria, or your insurer may not cover the costs of the repair.
Make the Most of Your Home Insurance Rights in Florida
Under the HCBOR, you have the right to receive accurate, fair, and timely communication and payment when you file a claim with your policy provider. If your insurer isn’t fulfilling their end of the bargain, you may have grounds to take legal action.
At the Professional Law Group, we specialize in helping homeowners like you receive full compensation for home insurance claims. We understand how adjusters and insurance companies operate, so we know how to approach disputes to get the best possible result for our clients. We will work on your behalf to help you dispute denied and underpaid claims and pursue total compensation for the repairs your home needs. Get in touch today to learn more about how we can help you stand up to insurers and exercise your Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights.