Be Your Own Advocate
Your Guide to Asking the Right Homeowners Insurance Questions
By being an informed, knowledgeable consumer, you can effectively advocate for yourself. You’re your own best advocate! Asking the right questions can help you understand your insurance policy, have adequate coverage, ensure your needs and expectations are met, and that your claim is being handled properly.
Per the Home Insurance Literacy Survey conducted by PolicyGenuis, nearly half of those surveyed believe that the amount of homeowners insurance coverage should be based on the value of the home; in actuality, it should be based on the cost to rebuild the home.
More than 53% of respondents did not realize that damage caused by floods is not covered by a typical homeowners insurance policy.
Approximately 40% of respondents were unaware that installing a security system could result in a discount on their homeowners insurance.
More than 76% of respondents did not know that they should inform their insurance company if they get a dog.
Approximately 16% believe their insurance policy covers tree and debris removal from yards.
Most homeowners insurance policies include a specific amount of coverage for tree and debris removal; however, it may not be sufficient to complete the entire clean up. You may wish to contact your local county or city agency, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency to determine if assistance with debris removal is available.
Given these shocking revelations, it’s important that you understand your insurance coverage and know what questions to ask your insurance company or insurance agent to ensure you have adequate coverage.
Below are suggested questions to ask or consider. It is also helpful to know the roles and responsibilities of insurance professionals you may encounter before and during the claim process.
Adequate/Appropriate Insurance Coverage Questions
Should I Purchase Flood Insurance?
Anywhere it rains, it can flood. Just one inch of water can cause up to $25,000 of damage to your home, and 18 inches or more of water may require repairs to your electrical system, heating/cooling system, doors, appliances, and cabinets. Flood insurance provides protection for your property if it is damaged by flooding, which is not typically covered by homeowners insurance.
For more benefits of flood insurance, review:
After you’ve filed an insurance claim for damage, there are some important questions to ask your insurance claims adjuster or insurance agent to ensure you understand the process. If you are unable to obtain answers, contact the Office of the Insurance Consumer Advocate at 850.413.5923 or the Department of Financial Services toll-free Insurance Consumer Helpline at 1.877.693.5236 where you can receive helpful, free guidance.
What are my responsibilities as a policyholder?
Your insurance company may require you to take specific steps to protect yourself as a policyholder and to decrease further damage as outlined in the Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights. Per your insurance policy, you may be required to participate in an examination under oath or cooperate during an investigation of a claim. You may also be required to participate in an alternative dispute resolution process if you and your insurance company cannot agree on how to settle the claim. Review your insurance policy or contact your insurance agent for more details on your responsibilities as a policyholder.
During the insurance claims process, you may encounter insurance professionals who assist in resolving your claim. If you have difficulty resolving your claim, you may decide to enlist the assistance of other professionals, as well.
Be your own advocate by being familiar with the professionals’ role, functions and responsibilities:
Homeowners Insurance Resources
Department of Business & Professional Regulation
Licenses and regulates businesses and professionals in Florida. You may file a complaint against licensed construction professionals; such as contractors, roofers, electricians and plumbers.
- Phone: (850) 487-1395
- Website: www.MyFloridaLicense.com
Department of Financial Services
Division of Consumer Services
The Division’s toll-free Insurance Consumer Helpline has dedicated Insurance Specialists who advocate for consumers and assist with insurance-related questions and issues, including filing a formal complaint against your insurance company.
- Phone: 1 (877) 693-5236
- Website: www.MyFloridaCFO.com/Division/Consumers
Division of Insurance Agent & Agent Services
Obtain accurate information regarding insurance agents, adjusters and other licensed insurance professionals. You may also file a complaint and check the status of an agent’s or adjuster’s license.
Division of Investigative and Forensic Services
The Division encompasses all law enforcement and forensic components within the Department of Financial Services. The Division investigates fraudulent and criminal acts including insurance and workers’ compensation fraud; fire, arson and explosives investigations; theft/misuse of state funds; etc. Contact the Division to report insurance and other types of fraud.
- Phone: (850) 413-3115
- Website: www.MyFloridaCFO.com/Division/DIFS
Division of Workers' Compensation
The Division of Workers’ Compensation ensures injured workers, employers, health care providers, and insurance companies follow the Florida workers’ compensation rules and laws. While the Division is not responsible for adjusting workers’ compensation claims, it educates injured workers regarding their rights and responsibilities, reviews claims in which injured workers’ benefits have been denied, stopped or suspended and ensures claims are being adjusted and reimbursed properly.
- Phone: Claims: 1 (800) 342-1741 Exemption/Compliance: 1 (800) 742-2214
- Website: www.MyFloridaCFO.com/Division/DIFS