The Division of Consumer Services stands ready to assist insurance consumers in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew 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.
Homeowners, renters and business owners in Nassau, Seminole, Duval, Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns, Volusia, Brevard and Indian River counties may apply for federal disaster assistance for uninsured and underinsured damages and losses resulting from Hurricane Matthew. To be eligible for federal aid under FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program, storm damage and losses from the hurricane and flooding must have occurred as a result of Hurricane Matthew, beginning on October 3.
Assistance for eligible survivors can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, and for other serious disaster-related needs, such as medical and dental expenses or funeral and burial costs.
Long-term, low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration also may be available to cover losses not fully compensated by insurance and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations.
Survivors should contact their insurance company to file their insurance claim. FEMA is unable to duplicate insurance payments. However, those without insurance or those who may be underinsured may still receive help.
Survivors are encouraged to register with FEMA as soon as possible. If you pre-registered with FEMA, you do not have to apply again. If you have phone and/or internet access, you may register:
If you applied for FEMA help in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew and you disagree with the decision stated in the letter you received, it is important that you read your letter carefully to understand FEMA’s decision so you will know exactly what you need to do. Many times applicants just have to submit extra documents for FEMA to process their application.
Examples of missing documentation may include an insurance settlement letter, proof of residence, proof of ownership of the damaged property and proof that the damaged property was your primary residence at the time of the hurricane.
If instructed and needed, you can simply submit missing documentation to FEMA online at www.disasterassistance.gov, by mail, fax or by visiting a Disaster Recovery Center.
If you feel the amount or type of assistance is incorrect, you may submit an appeal letter and any documents needed to support your claim, such as a contractor’s estimate for home repairs.
If you have insurance, FEMA cannot duplicate insurance payments. However, if you’re under-insured you may receive further assistance for unmet needs after insurance claims have been settled.
How to Appeal a FEMA Decision
All appeals must be filed in writing to FEMA. You should explain why you think the decision is incorrect. When submitting your letter, please include:
Your full name
Date and place of birth
In addition, your letter must be either notarized, include a copy of a state issued identification card or include the following statement, “I hereby declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.” You must sign the letter.
If someone other than you or the co-applicant is writing the letter, there must be a signed statement from you affirming that the person may act on your behalf. You should keep a copy of your appeal for your records.
To file an appeal, letters must be postmarked, received by fax or personally submitted at a Disaster Recovery Center within 60 days of the date on the determination letter.
FEMA – Individuals & Households Program
National Processing Service Center
P.O. Box 10055
Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055
Attention: FEMA – Individuals & Households Program
You should have received a booklet called "Help after a Disaster." It explains what you need to provide for your appeal. The booklet is available online at www.fema.gov/help-after-disaster.
If you have any questions about submitting insurance documents, proving occupancy or ownership or anything else about your letter, you may call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
If you have damage caused by Florida’s recent hurricanes, CFO Jeff Atwater encourages you to closely monitor the insurance claims process after reporting your loss.
Florida residents with a National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policy must file a “Notice of Flood Loss” with their flood insurance company promptly.
All policyholders with a flood loss are also required to submit a “Proof of Loss” (www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/9343) directly to the flood insurance company, within 60 days after the date of the flood 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 the damage.
Write down a list of your damaged contents.
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 repair receipts.
Also keep your policy number and insurance company information handy.
What Happens During an Adjuster’s Visit
An insurance adjuster will contact you within 24 to 48 hours 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 of loss and provide you with a copy of it, along with a Proof of Loss form.
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 of 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 policy if an item was excluded from coverage, 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.
Within 60 days after the loss, send the insurer a signed and sworn to proof of loss.
If you disagree with the resolution of your claim, you can submit your proof of loss for the undisputed amount and you may also appeal the amount contested to FEMA as stated in the Flood Insurance Claims Handbook at https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1409252356253-ee460a21e69333f01eea03a8f55eb3c6/F-687_ClaimsHandbook_508XI_Aug2014.pdf
If your Flood insurance coverage is provided by an insurance company from the voluntary market and you have a claim dispute, please call our toll-free Insurance Consumer Helpline at 1-877-693-5236. One of our insurance experts 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.
Flood insurance Tips
Verify Before You Buy! Contact us to verify the license of the agent and the insurance company before you sign an application for a policy.
Prepare a Home Inventory Checklist! A home inventory along with photos and proof of ownership will make it easier to file an accurate, detailed flood insurance claim in case your home is damaged or destroyed. When you have a loss, it is your responsibility to know what property you have, when it was purchased, how much you paid for it and how much it will cost to replace it. You should also keep receipts for large purchases or keep your credit card statements. You may be asked to prove that you owned the item in question. It is always a good idea to take pictures or videos of your property as well.
Keep a copy of your important documents in another location! In the event your home is totally destroyed, you would have copies of all of your important documents including receipts you may need to settle a claim with your flood insurance company.
Don’t delay in purchasing your flood insurance policy. With only a couple of exceptions, there is a 30-day waiting period for coverage to start with the National Flood Insurance Program. The waiting period may not apply to coverage purchased in the voluntary market.
If you plan to build your home, you may want to speak with your agent to determine what flood zone the new property is located in. The location of the property is used to determine how much you will pay for flood insurance.
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.
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 Matthew, 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.
County Damage Assessment Scam
St. Johns County is warning residents who were impacted by Hurricane Matthew of scam phone calls.
Residents have received automated phone messages stating that county personnel will be conducting damage assessments on their property.
The County does not make phone calls directly to homeowners regarding damage assessments from Hurricane Matthew.
If you receive a call regarding a damage assessment, do not provide any personal information or make a payment. Contact the St. Johns County Building Services Department at 904-827-6800 to determine if the call is legitimate.
FEMA Fraud Alert
The Orange City Police Department has received reports of persons in the Volusia County area impersonating Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) personnel. Official FEMA personnel will 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.).
FEMA personnel or its contractors do not request payment for services.
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 personnel, please call 911 or contact the local police department or sheriff’s office immediately.
Florida Power and Light Company (FPL) Scam
The City of Satellite Beach has received reports of persons impersonating Florida Power and Light Company (FPL) employees in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. The impersonators are reportedly driving white vans and wearing hard hats. Consumers should be aware that all FPL employees will have official identification, as will all company contractors. Additionally, there is no reason for FPL employees to access homes.
If you notice or are approached by someone claiming to represent FPL or any other local, state or federal agency, request identification. Do not allow a representative in your home unless you have confirmed their identity. You may also call the company directly to determine if it has representatives in the area. If you suspect suspicious activity or do not feel comfortable, call 911 immediately.
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.
SHELTER / EVACUATIONS / POWER / FUEL / SCHOOL CLOUSURES:
State Emergency Response Team (SERT)
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 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.