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Storm damage estimate tops $1 billion for Florida after Tropical Storm Eta

Steps to take when dealing with insurance and contractors
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Posted at 5:46 PM, Nov 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-16 17:46:17-05

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Depending on where you live in the greater Tampa Bay area, Tropical Strom Eta likely soaked your yard, flooded your house or left behind some wind damage.

The key to dealing with storm damage is to take immediate action by first contacting your insurance company and then making repairs to contain the damage. The latter includes everything from drying out your home to tarping a damaged roof. While making repairs, you want to make sure you keep any receipts from those repairs.

Florida's former Deputy Insurance Commissioner Lisa Miller advises homeowners to document all damages and review policy coverages before the insurance adjuster arrives.

"You have to protect yourself, document what you can so you can have an intelligent conversation with your insurance company when the estimates come in," she said.

After every major storm, roofers, tree trimmers and others go door to door offering to make repairs. In some cases, they convince homeowners to sign something called an assignment of benefits (AOB). That document gives the contractor control of your insurance claim. AOB supporters point out an assignment of benefits takes the hassle of negotiating with the insurance company off the homeowner. But there can be a downside.

"Be careful what you sign. Know that most of the actors that are there probably don't have your best interest at heart," Miller said.

Before hiring any contractor:

  • Ask for references.
  • Check the references.
  • Get at least two quotes for every job.

And before signing any contract, make sure the contractor is licensed and insured. Contractors should supply you with a copy of an insurance certificate. You can call the insurance company to make sure the policy is in force, and you can check for a contractor’s license at www.myfloridalicense.com.