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Beware of Hurricane Irma insurance scams

Florida residents whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Irma in 2017 need to be cautious of homeowners insurance scams. As the media have reported, scam artists have taken advantage of victims by fraudulently requesting insurance payments. Here’s a closer look at how to protect against this unwanted hassle.

Irma Damage and Con Artists

Hurricane Irma caused at least $4.6 billion in damage following the September 10 disaster. Over 700,000 claims have been recorded by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, with more claims expected. The previous week another large hurricane, Harvey, struck the Houston area. Both hurricanes spawned incidents of fake homeowners insurance encounters with victims.

The scam comprises imposters posing as FEMA representatives requesting money to help file federal flood claims. Other scammers warn you to make an insurance payment to keep your policy from being canceled.

Scammer Red Flags

  • someone asks for hundreds of dollars up front
  • a person claims to be an adjuster who will waive your deductible
  • lack of business card or identification
  • the organization offers to take care of everything if you sign a document

Anti-Fraud Strike Teams

The state is working to combat nefarious peddlers of fake homeowners insurance by deploying three anti-fraud strike teams to investigate suspicious vendors and make people aware of this community threat. These teams are partnering with law enforcement, documenting complaints and working with homeowners associations to identify suspects.

How to Handle Suspicious Encounters

  1. shut the door if a suspicious person asks for payment
  2. do not respond to unsolicited callers asking you to call a 1-800 number to make an insurance payment
  3. contact your insurance company and report the incident
  4. ask for verification (ID, badge) from anyone claiming to work for the government, an insurance company or a disaster relief organization
  5. report suspicious individuals to police or the state hotline (1-800-378-0445).

For more information about homeowners insurance claims, contact the professionals at The Marcus Group.