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Emergency Repairs

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You probably don't even know it's there. It's a paragraph in your homeowner's policy that could get you hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars from your insurance company for your hurricane damage. Todd Garbut is still picking up the pieces and trying to figure out how he's going to pay for the damage to his Delray Beach condo after Hurricane Wilma.

Todd Garbut/Condo Damaged by Wilma: "It tore right through. Blew through the front doors and ripped off that whole edge."

Garbut did what he was supposed to do according to his insurance policy and put up a tarp to prevent further damage.

Todd Garbut: "I had some other plastic up before the blue tarp and it wasn't holding as well, so then I moved up to the luxurious blue tarp."

So far, he and his condo association have spent a couple thousand dollars just making temporary repairs. But their deductible is $17,000, so they haven't even bothered contacting their insurance company.

Todd Garbut: "I thought anything I do was going to have to add up to $17,000."

But he's wrong, according to this former insurance industry insider.

Shaun Bolender/Former Insurance Executive: "The permanent repair is what the deductible applies to, not the temporary repair."

Suzanne Boyd: "Most Floridians have a standard homeowners insurance policy. Pull yours out and take a look and if you go to Page 4 of 18 you'll see the provision called reasonable repairs. That provision allows you to get reimbursed for those emergency repairs without first paying your deductible."

Shaun Bolender: "100% of your temporary repairs are covered by your insurance policy. Page 4 of 18. 100% and the deductible does not apply."

Todd Garbut: "I know nobody in our units knew that."

In fact, Bolender says, many homeowners don't know that, but now the secret's out.

Shaun Bolender: "The funds are available to you. All you have to do is ask and every good insurance company will immediately send you the necessary check."

Todd and his HOA will ask.

Todd Garbut: "Hopefully Allstate Floridian will have that page four term that Shaun was talking about."

They should. The state says most companies who operate in Florida have the same standard policy.

And here's more good news: if you're just finding out about this little-known clause in your insurance policy, but you've already filed that claim with your insurance company, the state says no problem. The Department of Financial Services says you can always file a supplement to your claim as long as you can dig up the receipts to prove that you paid for those emergency repairs.

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