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Insurance Consumer Advocate

Sha'Ron James

Contact Us
Mailing: 200 East Gaines St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0308

For Consumer Assistance:
Contact the Division of
Consumer Services within the
Department of Financial Services

Online at
Consumer Services
Toll-free in Florida
Out of State
(850) 413-3089
(850) 413-3033

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Floridians affected by a storm may have insurance questions as they survey their property damage. It is recommended that you locate all applicable insurance policies, document all damaged property and belongings using photo or video footage and report a claim as soon as possible. Here are some general insurance coverage guidelines that can help Floridians unsure of what to expect when contacting their insurance company to report damage and file a claim.


HURRICANE DEDUCTIBLE: Once you have located your insurance policy and have documented all damaged property and belongings using photos or video footage, it is recommended that you contact your insurance company or insurance agent as soon as possible to report the damage. Even if you think the amount of damage you sustained is under the deductible, a call to your insurance company to discuss the damage your property sustained is recommended.


TREES AND DEBRIS REMOVAL: Most insurance policies cover debris and tree removal if the downed tree damaged your property, regardless of who owns the tree. However, there are limits that the company will pay for debris and tree removal (commonly $500). Usually, coverage for debris removal does not exist if the tree fell on the ground and did not damage covered property.  Some policies provide debris and tree removal if the downed tree blocks the main entrance to the property. Since insurance policies vary between insurers, you should always refer to your own personal policy to determine coverage.


DOWNED SERVICE POLE: Some insurance companies consider a service pole located on your property covered under a homeowner’s policy. However, it is important to review the language in your policy, call your insurance agent or contact the insurance company for coverage clarification.


FOOD SPOILAGE: Many policies do not cover food spoilage. However, if the coverage is included, most insurance companies only cover food spoilage from a power outage caused by damage that occurred on your property. In other words, if a downed tree caused the power outage, it must be on your property for coverage to apply.


FLOODING: The federal National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) offers flood insurance, which is purchased through private property and casualty insurance agents. These policies contain specific provisions regarding coverage. Please call your insurance agent to answer your specific coverage questions regarding damage to your property from flooding. If you would like to obtain a flood insurance policy, please contact your insurance agent or visit the NFIP website at  www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/.


REPAIRS: You are required by your insurance contract to make temporary repairs to prevent further damage to your property. Before making any permanent repairs, contact your insurance agent or insurance company to discuss the repair process and take any pictures of the damage necessary to document your  claim.

If your  home  or property recently suffered water or tree damage, and a repair person claims  they  can repair the damage or remove the downed limbs, make sure they are licensed and insured. A list of licensed contractors can be found at www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/ or by calling the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation at (850) 487-1395. Obtain multiple estimates, check  references and give final payment after the work is finished. Always read contracts in full, including the fine print, before signing.


RESOURCES: Since all insurance policies are different, it is important to carefully read your  policy to determine what coverages apply. If you have any questions with regards to your  coverage, please contact your insurance company, insurance agent or call the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Consumer Services  listed below.

Department of Financial Services, Division of Consumer Services

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater’s Division of Consumer Services has experienced insurance specialists that assist you in working with your insurance company to resolve your insurance issues, review your coverage options and ensure  that your claim is processed in a timely and appropriate manner.  Call the toll-free helpline at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (693-5236) or visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com/Division/Consumers for questions or assistance.


Florida Attorney General Price Gouging Hotline

Unfortunately, those  affected by a natural disaster can become victims to untrustworthy business  schemes  that are out  to profit on the misfortune of others. The Florida Attorney General, in an effort to deter these kinds of scams, has activated the Price Gouging Hotline to assist Floridians in recognizing and avoiding storm-related scams. If you suspect price gouging, please report this information to the Price Gouging Hotline at (866) 9-NO-SCAM or by visiting  www.MyFloridaLegal.com.


FEMA Fraud Hotline

To report any suspicious activity affecting federal disaster assistance provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), call the FEMA fraud hotline at 1-800-323-8603. This can include information on contractors, inspectors, disaster survivors or anyone posing as any of these. Complaints can also be made  via the FEMA disaster assistance helpline at 1-800-621-3362.



Hurricane Category Date
Hermine 1 September 1, 2016
Matthew 3-4 October 7-8, 2016



News Articles and Press Releases

Rep. Stevenson to host free workshop on hurricane-related insurance Jake Martin - The St. Augustine Record
06/08/2017 FPL Prepares & Improves Storm Response For Hurricane Season David Sutta - CBS Miami
06/05/2017 FDOT announces new hurricane evacuation plan Chris Parenteau - News 4 Jax
06/05/2017 New Hurricane Advisories to Give Deadlines for Storm Prep Jennifer Kay - Claims Journal
06/03/2017 EOC: We are ready for the hurricane season Kevin Jackons - Osceola News-Gazette
06/03/2017 Florida beaches damaged by 2016 storms not ready to weather this hurricane season Eric Staats - Naples Daily News
06/03/2017 New eyes trained on skies for Florida's storm season Anne Geggis - Sun Sentinel
06/02/2017 P/C Insurers Positioned to Absorb Hurricane Season: Fitch Insurance Journal
06/01/2017 Hurricane storm surge puts 6.9 million homes at risk costing $1.5 trillion to rebuild Jayleen R. Heft - Property Casualty 360
06/01/2017 Hurricane season is here; what did we learn from Matthew? David Fleshler - Sun Sentinel
06/01/2017 Commentary: As hurricane season begins, check your insurance Logan McFaddin - Naples Daily News
06/01/2017 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season Officially Begins CBS Miami
06/01/2017 Sunburn for 6.1.17 – Hurricane season is here Peter Schorsch - Florida Politics
06/01/2017 Hurricane Season Looms, As Does Deadline To Reauthorize National Flood Insurance Program Quincy J Walters - WUSF News
05/31/2017 US insurers well-positioned to withstand hurricane losses Gloria Gonzalez - Business Insurance
05/31/2017 More Floridians prepping for 2017 hurricane season, study says Jeff Weiner - Orlando Sentinel
05/31/2017 It’s Here! Almost. Is Florida Ready? John Lucas - The Capitolist
05/31/2017 Three-day storm supply sales tax holiday starts Friday Dave Berman - Florida Today
05/30/2017 Three-day disaster preparedness sales tax holiday begins Friday Florida Politics
05/30/2017 Hurricane Season Arrives After 2016 Wake Up Call News Service of Florida
05/30/2017 Guest view: Prepare early for hurricane season Logan McFaddin - Pensacola News Journal
05/30/2017 CFO Atwater reminds Floridians about hurricane insurance helpline Tallahassee Democrat
05/30/2017 Jeff Atwater offers insurance advice as hurricane season opens Florida Politics
05/28/2017 Are you covered if disaster strikes? Check your insurance policies now TC Palm
05/26/2017 NOAA Updates Forecast for Atlantic Hurricane Season, Pacific’s El Nino Brian K. Sullivan - Insurance Journal
05/25/2017 Florida "disaster prep" sales tax holiday starts Friday, June 2 Action News Jax
04/25/2017 St. Augustine Commission looks at best ways to help homeowners recover from hurricane Stuart Korfhage - St. Augustine Record
04/24/2017 Hurricane Matthew breaks records, Aon report shows Denny Jacob - Property Casualty 360
04/24/2017 City of St. Augustine could give more time for people to live in trailers after hurricane Sheldon Gardner - The St. Augustine Record
03/28/2017 County residents have received $7.5 million in direct relief from FEMA since Matthew Jared Keever - The St. Augustine Record
03/08/2017 Hurricane Matthew Florida loss hits $1.182 billion, further to rise Artemis
02/08/2017 Proof of Loss Deadline Extended for Florida Hurricane Matthew Claims Insurance Journal
02/07/2017 FEMA extends deadline for Hurricane Matthew-related flood insurance claims Ryan Murphy - The Virginian-Pilot
02/05/2017 HURRICANE BLUES?: Program offers help for those dealing with emotional, mental aftermath from Matthew Sheldon Gardner - The St. Augustine Record
02/03/2017 Flood claim? You have 60 days left for Matthew, Hermine expired Charles Elmore & Susan Salisbury - Palm Beach Post
02/02/2017 Proof Of Loss Deadline Extended For Hurricane Matthew Victims Chris Andrews - News For Shoppers
01/28/2017 New hurricane maps answer key question: What time will winds hit me? Kimberly Miller - Palm Beach Post
01/28/2017 Senate bill offers post-disaster relief to homeowners Tony Holt - The Daytona Beach News-Journal
01/27/2017 Governor allocates $16 million to restore beaches damaged by Hurricane Matthew Alex Lassen - News 4 Jax
01/26/2017 Florida House mulls tax breaks for early-season storm prep A. G. Gancarski - Florida Politics
01/16/2017 Startups Withstood Matthew, But More Modeling Needed: Florida Regulators Risk Market News
01/09/2017 Palm Beach County set to approve $3.4M in Hurricane Matthew disaster aid Skyler Swisher - Sun Sentinel
01/09/2017 Manatee estimates Hurricane Hermine damage exceeds $9 million Claire Aronson - Bradenton Herald
12/25/2016 Months after Matthew, Florida oceanfront homes still at risk Associated Press - The Washington Times
12/23/2016 HUD awards $58M to help Florida recover from Hermine News 4 Jax
12/21/2016 Hurricane flood claim deadline pushed to Jan. 31 Charles Elmore - Palm Beach Post
12/18/2016 Hermine, Matthew Damages Near $1.6 Billion Jim Turner - News Service of Florida
12/14/2016 Flagler residents denied FEMA assistance post-Matthew still need help Brittany Jones - News 13 Palm Coast
12/14/2016 2017 could bring active hurricane season, report says David Fleshler - Orlando Sentinel
12/14/2016 Deadline for hurricane aid is Friday; more than 40,000 have applied for FEMA help Stuart Korfhage - The Florida Times-Union
12/13/2016 Hermine report: State denied requests for help Jeff Burlew - Tallahassee Democrat
12/08/2016 A Look Back at 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season Insurance Journal
12/08/2016 Recovery process under scrutiny two months after Hurricane Matthew Jake Martin - The St. Augustine Record
12/06/2016 City facing long list of repairs, uncertainty about aid following Hurricane Matthew Sheldon Gardner - The St. Augustine Record
11/28/2016 No Thanksgiving at home for Clay Co. family affected by Matthew Julia Jenaé - WTLV
11/28/2016 Long road to recovery for Hurricane Matthew victims with substantially damaged homes Jake Martin - The St. Augustine Record
11/23/2016 Hurricane Matthew damage lingers for Osceola family

Mary Shanklin - Orlando Sentinel

11/22/2016 FEMA to survey damaged homes, businesses Mike Wright - Citrus County Chronicle
11/21/2016 Hurricane Hermine victims can still apply for aid Jeffery Schweers - Tallahassee Democrat
11/21/2016 Petition seeks more time to file Hurricane Matthew-related flood insurance claims Florida Politics