Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate Robin Smith Westcott, appointed by Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, has launched a new working group to discuss potential improvements to the homeowners’ insurance claim process with the sole purpose of helping to better serve Florida homeowners who suffer a financial loss.
The Homeowners' Policy & Claims Bill of Rights Working Group is comprised of representatives of consumer organizations and industry representatives. The idea for the group stemmed from the feedback that Westcott received when she collaborated with Tasha Carter, Director of the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Consumer Services, on a series of Insurance Consumer Forums. These forums held recently throughout the state provided a platform for Florida homeowners to discuss their experiences with filing a claim. Many described long and frustrating processes that impeded their families’ ability to recover.
“Consumers should not be victimized by poor claims handling and unscrupulous business practices by those seeking to exploit homeowners when they are most venerable,” Westcott said.
The following issues will be discussed by the working group:
• Adjusting & Investigating the Claim — Examinations Under Oath
• Post-Claim Underwriting & Material Misrepresentation on the Application
• Solicitation of Consumers within 48–72 Hours of a Loss and Policyholders’ Requirement to Mitigate Damages
• Assignment of Claims and Unauthorized Adjusting of Claims
• Insurers’ Right to Repair — Safeguards and Warranties for Consumers
• Non-Renewal of Policies — Post-Claim but Prior to Repairs
• Mortgage Company Withholding of Funds for Repairs for Loans in Arrears and Guarantee 100% Replacement Cost
• Mediation and Appraisal
• Other Issues Indentified by the Working Group
The goal will be a comprehensive report that provides recommendations for addressing each item either administratively or through proposed legislation. In addition, the working group will review the current Policyholders’ Bill of Rights.
The working group will have two full-day workshops in Tallahassee. The workshops will be held in the Florida House of Representatives Capitol Complex, Committee Room 404, House Office Building from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 17 and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 18.
The workshops will be televised on the Florida Channel WFSU at http://thefloridachannel.org/. The conference call-in number for those who wish to listen to the workshop is 850-413-1558, Conference ID: 6125894.
Policyholders who need immediate assistance with an insurance-related issue should call the toll-free Insurance Helpline at 1-877-My-FL-CFO (693-5236) or seek assistance at http://www.myfloridacfo.com/Division/Consumers/.