As your State Attorney, and a citizen of this great community, I know only too well the impact a major hurricane can have on all of us. Past experience has taught us that we need to prepare not only for the storm itself but also its aftermath. I sincerely hope that the contents of this program will provide you with the guidance needed to ensure you will not become a victim “AFTER THE STORM”.
“Protecting residents from exploitation during natural disasters.”
When the Governor declares a State of Emergency, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle activates her Price Gouging Hotline to protect residents.
Insurance Issues to Keep In Mind Before the Storm
- Maintain a physical copy of your homeowners or commercial insurance policy available. In the event of an evacuation, take the policy with you along with the name, address, and phone numbers of your local agent and insurance company.
- South Florida's property values rapidly increase. Regularly verify that your existing policy is sufficient to “replace” your home in the event of a catastrophe.
- Be prepared; consider calling your insurance agent now to make sure you fully understand your coverage and the procedures they want you to follow in the event of a catastrophe.
- Contact your agent and have a conversation about your policy’s coverage limits.
- Before the storm arrives, take pictures or videos of the inside and outside of your home.
- Also, take pictures of your property and personal items.
- Save your pictures to a mobile device and a cloud storage system. These pictures are valuable should you sustain damages.
Dealing With Your Insurance Agent After A Hurricane
Don’t rush to give the insurance company a “release.” Give yourself time to discover all possible damage.
- Don’t rush into accepting an on-the-spot payment unless you are absolutely sure this is an “advance” and not a final settlement.
- Save all receipts for temporary living expenses and repair or restoration work. You may be reimbursed for these expenses.
- Insurance checks are typically made out to the homeowner and mortgage holder. To actually receive funds, you endorse the check and forward it to the mortgage company, which then adds its endorsement. You may be required to submit a contractor’s estimate of costs for repairs before the mortgage lender will release any funds. The lender will generally release a portion of the funds to get repairs started and remit the remainder according to a pre-arranged draw schedule or completion of the repairs and inspection.
- Your lender may retain the insurance proceeds for disbursement during the repair process.
After Hurricane Andrew, law enforcement agencies received hundreds of complaints from disaster victims who were duped by unscrupulous home repairmen making promises they didn’t keep. More than 135,000 private homes in Miami-Dade County were damaged.
Advice For Homeowners In Case Of Property Damage
If your home is damaged in a hurricane, don’t rush into a repair contract.
- Do not allow unscrupulous people to take advantage of you because you are anxious to have your home repaired.
- It is still a business contract you will be entering into, and more than likely, thousands of dollars will be involved.
- Be leery of people who knock on your door and offer to fix your roof or windows. Even though your initial reaction is to get repairs started, it is crucial to obtain more than one estimate and investigate the qualifications and credentials of anyone offering to work on your home.
- Specifically, you should contact the Miami-Dade County Code Compliance Department and the State of Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation to determine if the contractor is licensed, insured, or has complaints or violations on record.
Report Suspected Price Gouging
Price gouging is a criminal offense. Florida law prohibits price gouging after a declared state of emergency. Report any price gouging to our Hotline Number: 305-547-3300.
- The types of activities addressed in the price gouging statute include commodities such as goods, services, materials, merchandise, supplies and equipment, and resources such as food, water, ice, chemicals, petroleum and lumber needed because of the emergency.