You may have heard how insurance companies will “increase your premiums if you make a claim.” Premiums are high enough, so why would you want to increase your premiums by making a claim? Common sense says no. Perhaps you probably heard that is just best to “fix whatever is broken yourself” and not make a claim to avoid a rate increase. For many folks this idea seems unfair: you paid your premium, you should be able to file a claim since the crash/accident was not your fault. The truth is, under Florida law, you can file a claim without increasing your premium.
Insurance companies, as you know have publicity campaigns flooding television, radio, billboards, all over the internet, bus sides and even in the skies where one lizard company pays for flying billboards. They pay for a lot of marketing and advertising. All of this is to sway public opinion in their favor. All of us know that insurance companies are wealthy, but insurance companies still push the legislature for insurance rate increases and premiums still go up. So why advertise? Because what the news reports clearly show and they actually do to people they owe money, makes people hate them. They have to spend money to make themselves look good. They have to. Or public opinion would push our legislators to write more regulations to protect us from them.
You have seen in the past, campaigns about “insurance fraud.” Liberty
Mutual, Allstate and other insurance companies have had campaigns in the past highlighting how “some” people fraudulently make insurance claims to take advantage of the “good, fair and honest” insurance company. If you’ve had a claim, you’ve seen letters from insurance adjusters who all have have at the bottom “making a false insurance claim is a third-degree misdemeanor” and quoting a Florida statute. All of this is designed to inhibit filing a claim. As I have explained before in other articles, insurance companies make money by taking the premiums, investing them and not paying claims. If you make a claim they don’t make as much money, so they want to inhibit you from making a claim. Claims of fraud and “premium increases if you make a claim” help them keep the money they are supposed to pay on real claims. However, reality is different. There is no massive fraud perpetrated by consumers, you, in other words. In fact, quite the opposite occurs.
When you’re insurance company tries to raise your rates, you will need to respond quickly. You will generally have 30 days from this notice in order to provide the proof or contest this cancellation or premium increase. To stop them and reverse the cancellation or premium increase, you’ll need to provide them with the above information, in a certified letter. Do not trust any insurance company or adjuster. If you fax a letter or proof, make sure you print off the transmission receipt. It can take weeks for the insurance company to respond. I have had insurance companies deny receiving things from me, a trial lawyer. Things did not go well for the insurance adjuster thereafter but you can have the same results and effect.
It is these kinds of laws which should encourage you to get active and stay
involved in the political process. With any legislative session, laws favoring consumers can get easily changed. You should know how your representative stands on these issues. A call from you to your Florida Representative’s and Senator’s office before August 31st every year will help. Asked him point-blank “what are you doing to protect me from insurance companies raising my rates for no good reason?” insurance companies should not be able to raise your rates cancel your policy without damn good reason. If you call your representative, he or she will be aware you know what’s going on, that you are watching and he or she better act in your interest.
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