I just finished day one as a participating member of the Homeowners’ Policy and Claim Bill of Rights Working Group. Thursday will be the second and final day of in-person meetings by the Group. Robin Smith Westscott, Florida’s Consumer Advocate, hosted the working group with the help of organizer, Vickie Twogood.

During the morning session, one hour was devoted to talking about examinations under oath. While advocates for the insurance industry downplayed the examination under oath abuses, consumer representatives Paul Handerhan (FAPIA), Bill Newton (FCAN), Dale S. Dobuler, Esq., and myself were able give our input about the intimidation tactics carriers and defense attorneys use, and the abundance of open and shut claims that take a detour to examinations under oath land.

Post-Loss Underwriting was also discussed during the morning session. While Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company was a main topic of conversation, I was able to advise the panel that other insurance companies are also engaging in post-loss underwriting actions. A large portion of this discussion centered on Florida’s misrepresentation statute and what really should be “material” to the insurance company’s decision to offer insurance.

The afternoon session became a blend of three topics:

  • unauthorized adjusting of claims;
  • assignments of claim benefits to vendors and contractors; and
  • solicitation of policyholder in the first three days after a loss

Part of the discussion regarding the emergency services and contractor action needed after a loss also included the insured’s obligation to mitigate damages after a loss. Working to save your home from further damage can cause problems for insureds in Florida especially when the insurance company is late to the property. We learned that more arrests have been made by contractors who are acting as public adjusters without licenses in Florida.

Thursday’s topics include:

  • Insurers’ Right to Repair; Safeguard and Warranties for Consumers;
  • Non-Renewal of Policies – Post Claim but Prior to Repairs;
  • Mortgage Company Withholding of Funds for Repairs when loans are in Arrears;
  • Mediation and Appraisal; and
  • The Policyholder Bill of Rights.

Want to join in on the conversation? Robin Westcott welcomes comments and asks that they be submitted to InsuranceConsumerAdvocate@MyFloridaCFO.com.

You can listen live to the conference call by dialing 850-413-1558, Conference ID: 6125894, join us in the audience at House of Representatives, Capitol Complex House Office Building, Committee Room 404, 402 S. Monroe St., Tallahassee, Florida, or watch live on FloridaChannel WFSU.