Wondering why your insurance premiums are so high? Here’s why.
Fraud costs Florida consumers up to $700 in increased premiums.
The high cost of insurance fraud in Florida.
Is fraud a problem? You bet it is. Like the virus that has caused its surge in activity, fraudulent crime is an epidemic sweeping the country… an epidemic that has made its way into Florida and had a significant impact on insurance premiums.
Jimmy Patronis serves the citizens of the state of Florida as the state’s Chief Financial Officer, State Fire Marshal, and member of the Florida Cabinet. And while his office is focused on fraudulent activity in Florida, he knows that he needs the help of fellow Floridians; “together, we can work to put these criminals out of business,” he says, “and make sure that Floridians are protected from those who seek to defraud their fellow citizens.
In an April 1 press release, CFO Patronis had this to say about the prevalence of fraudulent activity in Florida: “While I like a good April Fool’s joke, falling victim to fraud is no laughing matter. Scammers are constantly using new tricks to steal your hard-earned money, but the best defense is to know the warning signs of a scam before you fall victim. Always verify before you buy to ensure a product or service is legitimate, monitor your bank accounts for suspicious activity, and always closely guard your personal and financial information. If you feel you have been the victim of fraud, report it immediately at FraudFreeFlorida.com.”
The activity that has drawn Patronis’s attention most recently is insurance fraud perpetrated by contractors. Insurance fraud costs more than $40 billion annually, which costs the average family between $400 and $700 a year in increased premiums. Insurance fraud leads to both higher negotiated settlements and paying additional costs to litigate claims. The result? An increase in insurance rates. In fact, right now, Florida’s property insurance rates are the third highest in the country, with some companies even unwilling to insure homes that meet certain criteria such as the age of the home, age of the roof, and location of the home.
It’s essential that Floridians remain extremely vigilant. In order to assist, the office of Florida’s Financial Officer — myfloridacfo.com — in partnership with the Bureau of Insurance Fraud, has made documents available to help Floridians avoid becoming victims of fraud, including Consumer Tips and “What’s Right, What’s Wrong”.
What do you do if you’re considering hiring a contractor, for any reason? First, verify that the contractor has an active, valid Florida license by visiting MyFloridaLicense.com. Don’t allow a contractor to inspect your property, including your roof, until you have verified that not only are they are a licensed, reputable contractor but that they also carry the proper insurances, such as workers’ compensation. You can find this out by visiting the Division of Workers’ Compensation website. Make sure you read all documents thoroughly, never be allowed to be rushed into signing anything, and always request copies of any documents you sign. Be sure to get a detailed outline of the planned work, estimated completion dates, and payment schedule. In addition, before making a final payment, be sure to get a Final Payment Affidavit from your contractor, so that you can be certain that the contractor has paid all subcontractors and suppliers. Lastly, as Jimmy Petronis suggests: “If you feel you have been the victim of fraud, report it immediately at FraudFreeFlorida.com.”
About Heacock Insurance – Serving Central Florida since 1922.
Heacock Insurance is a fifth-generation, family-owned agency serving Central Florida since 1922. Founded in Sebring by Austin Heacock, his agency was, at the time, the only insurance agency located along “The Ridge” of Central Florida. Austin’s core belief in starting his endeavor was to be an honest and dependable provider of services he knew people needed.
Nearly a century later, with offices in Lakeland and Sebring, at Heacock Insurance, it’s our policy to hold true to the family values of professional integrity, commitment and personal service upon which we were founded.