The Division of Consumer Services stands ready to assist insurance consumers in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael 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.
Q: How long does it take between filing a claim and work beginning on my home?
A: Timing can depend, but if your insurance company is not responsive or keeping you up to date CALL MY OFFICE (1-877-MY-FL-CFO). Depending on the damage, it could take longer to assess, but if you haven’t heard from an adjuster after filing your claim within one week, follow up with your insurance company. BE PERSISTENT and use my office as a resource. Within 30 days, you should hear from your insurance on what they are actually doing with your claim – fully or partially covered or denial.
This is exactly why I held a call with the major insurance companies in the area before the storm – I put them on notice that they MUST move quickly to make residents whole. That’s what we are going every day. You have the right to hear from your insurance company.
Q: I’ve filed a claim, an adjuster has come out and I’ve reached an agreement with my insurance company, but payment hasn’t been issued. What should I do?
A: Be persistent and follow up with your insurance company. Call my office at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO so we can intervene for you and hold these companies accountable. That’s what I’m here for – so that you can have someone fighting in your corner.
Q: What happens if the insurance company denies my claim?
A: If your claim was denied, you have the right to request mediation through my office. I can’t stress using my office enough. We are not only a resource but your champion.
Q: A contractor is pressuring me to sign a document that would make the claims process easier. What should I do?
A: Don’t sign anything. Signing this kind of document, called an Assignment of Benefits document, will turn over your rights and insurance claim to a contractor. Doing this gives the contractor the right to communicate or negotiate directly with your insurance company or requires all claim proceeds to be made payable to the contractor. It also opens up a risk for the contractor to file a lawsuit against your insurance company. No one wins with an AOB.
Q: A contractor approached me about doing repairs, but won’t show appropriate license and insurance paperwork. What should I do – I can’t wait any longer for repairs.
A: I can’t stress this enough: ALWAYS use reputable and licensed contractors. Don’t let promises of fast repairs convince you otherwise. Using an unlicensed or uninsured contractor is a financial and safety risk. Go to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s licensee search online to check a license; and ensure that contractors carry the proper liability and workers’ compensation insurance by visiting my Division of Workers’ Compensation website at MYFLORIDACFO.COM.
Q: What about damage to my car? Is that covered?
A: Water damage to a car is usually covered if you have comprehensive coverage on your auto policy. Check with your insurance company before allowing any repairs to your damaged vehicle. Be careful with auto glass repair shops. Some auto may try to convince you to sign over your insurance benefits. These shops aren’t affiliated with the insurance companies. They may inflate the glass claim and then turn around and sue the insurance company, often without your knowledge.
Q: What is FEMA Individual Assistance and who is eligible?
A: Following a request by Governor Scott, and approval by FEMA, families in the following Bay, Franklin, Gulf, Leon, Taylor, Wakulla, Calhoun, Liberty, Jackson, Gadsden, Holmes, and Washington counties. To date, FEMA has approved nearly $95 million in Individual Assistance. This assistance can include housing needs, Disaster-caused child care expenses, disaster-caused medical and dental expenses and even disaster-caused damages to essential household items (room furnishings, appliances); clothing; tools (specialized or protective clothing and equipment) required for your job; necessary educational materials (computers, school books, supplies). If you have any questions, call my office at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO.
Please click here to locate your insurance company and contact information.
Florida Residents with losses due to Hurricane Michael in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Leon, Liberty, Taylor, Wakulla, Washington Counties may now register for disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to state and federal officials.
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.
Bay County Office
303 Mosley Drive
Lynn Haven, FL 32444
Adjusters are Available
Calhoun County Office
17577 Main Street N
Blountstown, FL 32424
Gadsden County Office
2111 W. Jefferson Street
Quincy, FL 32351
Holmes County Office
1108 N. Waukesha Street
Bonifay, FL 32425
Jackson County Office
4379 Lafayette Street
Marianna, FL 32446
Adjusters are Available
Washington County Office
1361 Jackson Avenue
Chipley, FL 32428
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 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.
Eligible homeowners in 12 counties impacted by Hurricane Michael are eligible for temporary repairs under Operation Blue Roof offered by the state of Florida, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Homeowners in Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Leon, Liberty, Taylor, Wakulla, and Washington counties who sustained roof damage can apply for assistance.
Homeowners who wish to apply must complete a right-of-entry (ROE) form to allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and its contractors to access the property. The ROE form can be completed online at www.usace.army.mil/blueroof or in person at ROE collection centers which have been set up in the area.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently operating ROE collection sites from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. CDT, seven days a week in the following locations (all in Bay County):
Panama City Square
525 W 23rd Street
Panama City, FL
15495 Panama City Beach Pkwy
Panama City Beach, FL
2101 S Highway 77
Lynn Haven, FL
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to open additional ROE collection centers in other communities across the region in the coming days.
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.
Renters must obtain legal permission from the owner for installation of a blue roof. They must also get legal permission from their landlord to continue occupying the residence until more permanent repairs are made.
For the most current information, please visit the USACE Blue Roof website at www.usace.army.mil/BlueRoof or call 1-888-ROOF-BLU (1-888-766-3258).
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.
The Office of Financial Regulation and Consumer Services have received inquiries from consumers who have received Disaster Assistance Checks from FEMA, and encountered problems with getting the checks cashed because they could not verify the authenticity. In order to assist consumers, FEMA provided the following information that can be shared with consumers:
Funds are distributed via check or direct deposit (no pre-paid cards).
A letter to the survivor explaining what the payment is to be used for arrives within a day or two of the check or direct deposit.
The U.S. Treasury checks associated with FEMA assistance will have " Disaster Assistance " identified on the lower left-hand corner of the check. Click here, to view a description of the Treasury check’s features.
Financial institutions can validate a Treasury check by accessing the following website:
Click “Check Verification” on the upper left of the page
Must have a valid routing transit number, check number, and check amount
If fraud is suspected, consumers can report fraud by using one of these options:
Call the FEMA Waste, Fraud and Abuse Hotline at 1-800-323-8603 or TTY 1-844-889-4357.
Send a fax to the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General Hotline at 202-254- 4297.
DHS Office of Inspector General, Mail Stop 0305
Attn: Office of Investigations - Hotline
245 Murray Lane SW
Washington, DC 20528-0305
National Center for Disaster Fraud
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.
On October 7, 2018, Governor Rick Scott issued Executive Order 18-276, declaring a 60-day state of emergency for 26 counties in the state of Florida for Hurricane Michael. The counties include Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf, Gadsden, Liberty, Franklin, Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson, Madison, Taylor, Hamilton, Suwannee, Lafayette, Dixie, Columbus, Gilchrist, Levy, and Citrus. On October 8, 2018, Governor Scott amended Executive Order 18-276, to include Baker, Union, Bradford, Alachua, Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, and Manatee Counties, under Executive Order 18-277. Bringing the total number of counties under the State of Emergency to 35.
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.
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.
If you have flood damage caused by Florida’s recent Hurricane Michael, 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/assets/documents/6659
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 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.
FEMA issued bulletin W-18026, 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 Michael. 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.
DEO Hurricane Michael Recovery Flyer:
Available for Download in English
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.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hurricanes aren't the only disasters that Floridians need to be prepared for each year. Wildfires, floods, tornadoes and sinkholes 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.
The aftermath of a disaster is a challenge for anyone, but for students living away from home, it may leave them feeling particularly vulnerable. It is important for you to prepare for a disaster and to know what steps to take after one occurs. Most colleges and universities have disaster plans in place; be sure to check your school’s website for its disaster instructions.
For additional tips to help college students before and after a disaster, visit Affordable College Online’s Recovering from a Natural Disaster in College guide.
SHELTER / EVACUATIONS / POWER / FUEL / SCHOOL CLOUSURES:
State Emergency Response Team (SERT)
Telephone Number: 1-800-342-3557
770-220-5200 (Local: Region IV Regional Office)
(850) 414-7400 (Tallahassee Headquarters)
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)
Agency for Persons with Disabilities
Toll-Free: 1-866-APD-CARES or 1-866-273-2273
CDC+ Program Customer Service: 1-888-329-2731
Agency for State Technology
Fraud Hotline: 1-866-966-7226
Price Gouging Hotline: 1-866-966-7226
Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Consumer Assistance and Information: 1-800-HELP-FLA or 1-800-435-7352
Arson Hotline: 1-800-342-5869
Plant Industry Helpline: 1-888-397-1517
Fair Rides 24-Hour Accident Reporting: 1-800-663-3542
Department of Business and Professional Regulation
Unlicensed Activity Complaint Line: 1-866-532-1440
Department of Children and Families
Florida ACCESS Customer Call Center: 1-866-762-2237
Florida Abuse Hotline: 1-800-96-ABUSE or 1-800-962-2873
Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Department of Citrus
Department of Corrections
Department of Economic Opportunity
Reemployment Assistance Program (Claims and Benefits): 1-800-204-2418
Department of Education
Department of Elder Affairs
Elder Helpline: 1-800-96-ELDER or 1-800-963-5337
Long-term Care Resident Complaint: 1-888-831-0404
Department of Environmental Protection
Department of Financial Services
Consumer Helpline: 1-877-MY-FL-CFO or 1-877-693-5236
Out of State: (850) 413-3089
Department of Health
Zika Hotline: 855-622-6735
Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
Florida Highway Patrol (Traffic Incidents by Region): http://www.flhsmv.gov/florida-highway-patrol/traffic-incidents-by-region/
Department of Juvenile Justice
Central Communications Center Incident Hotline: 1-800-355-2280
Florida Runaway Hotline: 1-800-621-4000
Prevention Helpline: 1-866-757-0634
Department of Law Enforcement
Enforcement and Investigative Support & Crimes Against Children/Registration Violation Team: 888-335-3767
Missing and Endangered Persons Hotline: 888-FL-MISSING or 888-356-4774
Sexual Offender/Predator Registration Hotline: 888-357-7332
Department of Lottery
Department of Management Services
Department of Military Affairs
Department of Revenue
Child Support Customer Service: 800-622-KIDS or 800-622-5437
Child Support Payment Inquiry: 877-769-0251
Tax Information and Assistance: 800-352-3671
Department of State
Department of Transportation
Real-Time Traffic and Roadway Information: 511
Road Ranger Service Patrol: *FHP or *347
Fraud Hotline: 800-255-8099
Toll Program (SunPass): 888-865-5352
Department of Veterans’ Affairs
Division of Emergency Management
Executive Office of the Governor
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Wildlife Alert Program: 888-404-FWCC or 888-404-3922
Florida Clerk of Court Operations Corporation (CCOC)
Florida Commission on Offender Review
Victims’ Services Unit: 1-855-850-8196
Office of Financial Regulation
Office of Insurance Regulation
Public Service Commission
View the links below for important information.