The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has issued an advisory that policyholders should be on the lookout for scammers, as the number of insurance claims filed related to Hurricane Ian hits nearly half a million.
The anti-fraud group has identified 471,581 claims as of October 24, 2022, that are related to the latest hurricane event. Most of the claims (431,702), the NICB has noted, were reported in Florida. It was also found that 272,465 of the claims in Florida were for homeowners and business insurance policyholders, and the remaining 151,892 were for personal auto claims.
The numbers out of Florida are of concern, as the state struggles to grapple with rampant fraud. The issue is so pressing that lawmakers are calling for a second special session to address the issue, on top of Florida’s high insurance costs.
NICB has advised that while Ian caused substantial damage to homes, businesses, and vehicles, policyholders must “take their time and not try to accelerate the rebuilding process in order to avoid being scammed.”
"We know residents want to get back on their feet, but we are already seeing dishonest fraudsters who are preying on unsuspecting victims like vultures," said NICB president and CEO David Cross. "This is not the time to let your guard down. Stay vigilant and protect yourself and your loved ones from these criminals."
Policyholders have been advised to call their insurer before hiring a contractor for repairs. Customers must also get more than one repair estimate, and request references from contractors. NICB has also recommended that policyholders should be on the lookout for out-of-state contractor licenses, as well as vehicle registrations – as they have a high chance of being fraudulent contractors.
NICB has also warned that policyholders should never let a contractor interpret the language of their insurance policies, and should never let a contractor pressure them into making a quick decision. It also gave a reminder that some deceitful contractors will claim that they are supported by the government – the Federal Emergency Management Agency does not endorse individual contractors or loan agencies, the NICB underlined.