On October 1, 2018, Sawgrass Mutual Insurance Company (“SMIC”) was ordered liquidated by the Second Judicial Circuit Court in Leon County, Florida. The Florida Department of Financial Services (“Department”) is the court appointed Receiver of SMIC.  Please continue to report all new claims in accordance with the company’s normal claims filling procedures until instructed differently. More information is available on the Department’s website here.


Protecting Against Possible Fraud On Your Policy

Insurance offers financial compensation for emergencies and disasters, which hopefully don't happen often to you. So it's not unusual for you to set it up once and keep paying premiums for years without worrying about it until you need it. You don't want to discover then that your policy is fraudulent and that you've been paying into something that will never pay you back. Check out these tips for ensuring that the insurance you buy will help you when you need it.

1. Figure Out What You Need and Can Afford

There's no point in spending money for future protection if you don't have enough left over for your day to day expenses. So think about what you can afford to lose and what you're willing to spend to minimize loss. Buy only what you need and avoid duplicating costs. Your insurance agent is the best person to advise you on what available policies cover.

2. Vet The People and Companies Involved

Make sure that the people or agencies that you're dealing with are currently licensed with the State of Florida. First, check out the company name and address using the Company Directory of the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. The listing includes basic information such as address, phone number, address, whether they are currently authorized to do business, and what types of business they can do.

Then check out their rating with the Better Business Bureau. Look for any online reviews of the agency or agents by doing a Google Search on their name and the word “review.” Finally, ask people you know if they have any personal experience with company or agents you're considering.

3. Avoid Dealing In Cash

Cash cannot be traced and receipts for it can easily be faked. Checks take time to clear and payments for them can be stopped if you discover anything suspicious. Make them out to a company rather than an agent, and specify on the check the type of coverage being provided as well as the name of the agent. You can also use a credit card, which offers protection against fraud by allowing you to cancel the payment by calling up your card's customer service department.

As with anything that you buy, ask for proof of purchase or a receipt as soon as you make payment.

4. Check with The Company Issuing The Policy

Agents and agencies typically act as intermediaries between you and the insurance company from which you are buying the policy. They forward your payments to the company. But don't take their word for it with the first few payments. Check with the main company to find out if it is receiving your payments and that your policy is active. You may want to perform this check at least once a year.

5. Study The Policy

If you don't get a copy of the policy you signed up for, ask for one. It may be full of dense hard-to-read sentences but it's important that you understand what's there. What your agent may have told you or what you've seen in the brochure or website is irrelevant compared to what is written down. Verify that what is covered, what's excluded, and the dollar amounts are correct. If it isn't, some companies allow you to examine the policy for a specified time period and to either cancel it or modify it without penalty.

If there's something about your coverage that you don't understand, you can ask your agent or contact the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation for more information.