Friday, July 26, 2013
CONSUMERS BEWARE AND BE AWARE
The Homeowners’ Policy and Claims Bill of Rights Working Group is a panel developing consumer-protection recommendations that they will offer to the Legislature in next year’s session.
Recently the state levied a $1.26MM fine against the state’s 2nd largest insurer, Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company for wrongly denying claims and canceling policies without adequate notice. Universal has 550,000 policyholders.
Universal was cited for using credit histories of clients to deny claims, long after the underwriting process should have been completed. A bill was amended to limit use of credit records to deny coverage to 90 days after policy is written, but the bill failed to pass.
Some Florida consumers had had damages claims denied and coverage canceled because of an old credit report, despite having long-held insurance policies with same company. Some others face lengthy legal proceedings in which they must participate or risk losing their policies.
Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate Robin Smith Westcott cautioned consumers in the middle of a claim or dispute to refrain from immediately signing contracts with contractors, adjusters and other groups offering aid. He said, “first, contact your insurance company to get the process started”.