FJA Members Appointed to Homeowners’ Policy & Claims Bill of Rights Working Group by Insurance Consumer Advocate


Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate Robin Smith Westcott, appointed by Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, has launched a new working group to discuss potential improvements to the homeowners’ insurance claim process with the sole purpose of helping to better serve Florida homeowners who suffer a financial loss.

FJA members Nicole Vinson of Merlin Law Group, P.A. in Tampa and Dale Dobuler of Ver Ploeg & Lumpkin, P.A. in Miami, were appointed to the Work Group.  Both were in Tallahassee last week for the only in-person meetings planned for the Work Group as follow up meetings will occur via conference call.  FJA consultant Reggie Garcia was instrumental in briefing Nicole and Doug on pro-consumer issues advocated by FJA for several years.  Reggie also testified before the Work Group as a member of the public.

The Homeowners' Policy & Claims Bill of Rights Working Group is comprised of representatives of consumer organizations and industry representatives. Westcott stated, “Consumers should not be victimized by poor claims handling and unscrupulous business practices by those seeking to exploit homeowners when they are most vulnerable.”

The following issues were discussed by the working group:

  • Adjusting & Investigating the Claim - Examinations Under Oath
  • Post-Claim Underwriting & Material Misrepresentation on the Application
  • Solicitation of Consumers within 48 – 72 Hours of a Loss and Policyholders’ Requirement to Mitigate Damages
  • Assignment of Claims and Unauthorized Adjusting of Claims
  • Insurers’ Right to Repair – Safeguards and Warranties for Consumers
  • Non-Renewal of Policies – Post-Claim but Prior to Repairs 
  • Mortgage Company Withholding of Funds for Repairs for Loans in Arrears and Guarantee 100% Replacement Cost
  • Mediation and Appraisal
  • Other Issues Indentified by the Working Group

The goal will be a comprehensive report that provides recommendations for addressing each item either administratively or through proposed legislation.  In addition, the working group will review the current Policyholders’ Bill of Rights.

SunSentinel Article

Sarasota Herald-Tribune Article

WCTV News - Reggie Garcia interviewed

Day 1 - Homeowners' Work Group Meeting via The Florida Channel (July 17, 2013)

Day 2 - Homeowners' Work Group Meeting via The Florida Channel (July 18, 2013)