Consumer Protection Week 2021
In observance of Consumer Protection Week, Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate (ICA) Tasha Carter today launched Demolish Contractor Fraud: Steps to Avoid Falling Victim to address one of the biggest contributors to increased insurance rates – fraud. Insurance fraud costs more than $40 billion annually, which increases the average family’s insurance premiums between $400 and $700 a year. Fraudulent tactics and schemes perpetrated by professionals who are utilizing harmful contracting and unlicensed adjusting practices are resulting in higher insurance premiums for all Floridians.
“Deliberate deception and intentional acts of fraud are driving up insurance rates and harming consumers. Consumers are essentially paying more for less. The availability and accessibility of adequate insurance coverage is decreasing significantly,” said ICA Carter. “I created Demolish Contractor Fraud to educate consumers on how to spot fraud and protect themselves from falling victim.”
“The increased involvement of contractors, roofers, and water extraction companies in the insurance claims process is harming Florida’s consumers. Many of these contractors often engage in practices that inflate and exaggerate claims while also acting as unlicensed public adjusters,” said Florida Association of Insurance Agents President and CEO Kyle Ulrich. “The Florida Association of Insurance Agents applauds Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate’s efforts to fight contractor fraud that leads to higher insurance premiums for Florida’s consumers.”
Demolish Contractor Fraud: Steps to Avoid Falling Victim outlines how contractor fraud is committed; contractor prohibitions and unlicensed adjusting, as outlined in law; and how consumers are impacted. Below is a request for assistance received by the Office of the Insurance Consumer Advocate, which is an example of how calculated and widespread contractor fraud can reach:
A Jackson County homeowner filed a Hurricane Michael claim and signed an Assignment of Benefits with a contractor. Upon receiving payment from the insurance company, the contractor completed some initial repair work, stopped and refused to communicate with the homeowner. Several months later, it was discovered that the contractor was previously arrested in Bay County for working without a license and defrauding homeowners of more than $122,000. The home has still not been repaired and the homeowner is afraid that he will lose his home to foreclosure.
To learn more about contractor fraud, review tips, red flags and more, visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com/Division/ICA/Demolish.
Tasha Carter was appointed by CFO Jimmy Patronis as Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate in August 2019. The ICA is an independent leader with an effective and powerful voice for all Floridians. In this role, Carter is committed to increasing consumer awareness and education; assisting consumers with insurance-related matters; and engaging legislatively to represent Florida’s insurance consumers. The ICA serves the interests of Florida’s insurance consumers by representing the general public before the Department of Financial Services (DFS) and the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR); examining rate and form filings submitted to OIR; recommending actions to DFS and OIR; and representing the general public on appointed boards and public forums.