If you are a mom in Florida you may already be used to it. The panic, the planning, the stress, especially for homeowners. It is one of the most stressful times of year. June 1st to November 30th is the official Hurricane season. No matter how many batteries you buy or cans of soup you stock up on, the lingering feeling that you could have prepared better is always there.
We consulted with one of the few female Public Adjusters in South Florida, who just happens to be a super mom, on how she prepares for a storm. Asma Qureshi is like most Public Adjusters you will see, climbing on rooftops to look for damage and surveying properties for mold but what makes her stand out is the attention to detail that only a mom could have.
Broward Mom Collective (BMC): So Asma, what does a Public Adjuster do?
Asma: When a homeowner experiences what we call a “loss,” such a roof leak or damage created by mold, they file a claim with their insurance. A public adjuster helps to manage the claim, make sure claim filing requirements are met and helps to recover the amount a policyholder deserves under their insurance contract, also known as their insurance policy.
BMC: How do you get paid?
Asma: As a public adjuster, I get paid a percentage of what the insurance company pays their insured, the policyholder. When the policyholder accepts any payments from the insurance company. Until the homeowner accepts the payment from the insurance company, I do not get any compensation.
BMC: On Friday June 11th, Governor DeSantis signed a bill into law that will forbid contractors from soliciting homeowners to file roofing claims. The law also shortens the time frame in which homeowners can file claims, from three years to two years, and enacts new rules on litigation. What does this mean for Florida homeowners and how does it influence the way we should prepare for hurricane season this year?
Asma: By law, contractors are not allowed to adjust claims. So, if any contractors are soliciting homeowners and encouraging them to file a claim and adjusting the said claim then they are violating the law. Public adjusters obtain a license to represent the homeowners in adjusting their claim and getting them the recovery, they rightfully deserve. So now the contractors can provide an estimate based solely on the extent of their expertise; for example, a roofer will provide an estimate for the cost to replace a roof, but not to fix the interior damages caused by a roof leak.
As for the law changing, there were different time frames to file a claim depending on the type of loss that occurred. Now, the law allows two years to report all types of claims. Whereas before the State allowed homeowners three years to file a claim for a named storm or when the state of emergency was declared. For all other claims, such as AC leak, dishwasher leak, supply line failure, fire, etc., homeowners could file a claim up to five years after the loss occurred.
BMC: How can we keep the cost of our property insurance down? Does your insurance company drop you for opening a claim?
Asma: To keep the cost of your property insurance down I would recommend shopping around for coverage, bundle your policies (i.e. auto and home policy with the same carrier), and look for discounts. Insurance companies can drop you after a single claim or before you even make a claim. Insurance companies that are worried about future risks have cancelled policies due to major storms like hurricanes, even if the policy holder has not filed a claim. So, just because you decide to file a claim for a legitimate loss, does not necessarily mean your insurance company will drop you.
BMC: As a Public Adjuster and a Mom, what are your top 10 tips for preparing for a Tropical Storm or Hurricane?
- Make a Plan: if evacuation is necessary, turn off all utilities and follow community disaster preparedness plans.
- Secure the Exterior: Bring all outdoor patio furniture, potted plants, bikes and toys indoors.
- Install Storm Shutters: Protect windows, doors and skylights with appropriate shutters or impact resistant glass.
- Move your cars: Move cars to higher ground or park them in your garage against the garage doors. Do not park under trees, power lines or in low lying areas.
- Power Up: Fill your car’s gas tank, charge your cell phone, test your generator, and have plenty of fuel ready in case of power outages.
- Unplug appliances: Move appliances and household fixtures away from exterior doors and window openings.
- Store important documents: Keep important documents, such as legal papers, birth certificates, marriage license, financial papers and insurance policy information, as well as valuables such as jewelry, in a safe deposit box or in a bolted safe in an interior closet in your home.
- Prep an emergency kit: Gather flashlights, a portable radio, extra batteries, non-perishable food, bottled water, medicine, cash, blankets, clothing, and toiletries.
- Take an inventory of your personal property: Take photos of everything. This can help speed up the claim process should the need arise.
- Designate a “Safe Room”: A room with no windows or exterior doors and preferably only one interior door. This is where you and your family can go in case the storm is severe. Keep some supplies in this room just in case.
BMC: Do Adjusters only help homeowners after a storm, or can you call an Adjuster for other things?
Asma: No. Public adjusters can represent homeowners in pursuing countless types of claims other than storm related claims. There are a lot of other losses that homeowners have coverage for within their policy that they are not aware of. Such perils are covered under homeowners’ policies: fire, mold, AC leak, fridge line, supply line leak under kitchen sink, dishwasher leak, garbage disposal leak, laundry leak, sewage backup, roof leaks, vandalism, and much more.
BMC: Any last-minute advice for homeowners?
Asma: Please be mindful of any endorsements your purchase to save a little bit of money on your premium. Purchasing such endorsements can take away a lot of your benefits and leave you at the mercy of the carrier and their vendors. If you’re not sure whether or not you have the right coverage, please contact me and I will be more than happy to review your policy.
As a Public Adjuster, Asma Qureshi represents U.S. Claim Services of Weston, Florida. She covers the entire state of Florida and is always available for consultations. Hiring a Public Adjuster is a very important decision and can make life as a homeowner more rewarding. Having someone to advocate on your behalf can not only save you time and money, but it can save your home.
US Claim Services