More than six months after Hurricane Ian slammed into Southwest Florida, maiming or destroying homes, thousands of residents have been delayed by extreme insurance-claims problems trying to make repairs.
In fact, based on recent estimates from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, of the 708,255 yen in claims reported to insurance companies, 143,396, or 20.2%, remain ‘open and pending’.
And the prolonged delay — Ian’s worst storm is pushed back to Sept. 28, 2022 — has raised customer concerns and complaints.
“Many consumers are displaced, living in tents on their properties or living in substantially damaged homes. According to a press release from Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate (ICA) Tasha Carter, they cannot begin the repair process and begin the road to recovery without insurance benefits.
“It is my responsibility and charge to ensure Florida’s insurance consumers receive the benefits they are entitled to under their insurance contracts,” Carter wrote in the release. “They are not asking for a handout or special privileges. Consumers want their homes repaired and restored as quickly as possible.”
Carter sent specific letters to property and casualty insurance companies this week, outlining “tremendous consumer concerns” about the handling of Hurricane Ian claims.
This includes “extreme delay” after filing a claim more than 6 months ago. In addition, “consumers have been assigned multiple adjusters, have to submit claim documents multiple times, received unsatisfactory settlement offers, experienced long delays, lack of communication and other challenges,” according to the release.
To improve the claims process, Carter requested “the appointment of a designated contact within each company specifically to address Hurricane Ian complaints and claims inquiries received from the Office of Insurance Consumer Advocates.”
Also this week, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis issued a directive that a consumer advocate, in this case Carter, be hired and serve as Hurricane Ian chief recovery director.
The complaints and delays in the Ian insurance claim come as former President Donald Trump is slamming Gov. Ron DeSantis — who is considering a 2024 presidential run — on a variety of issues. (Presumably Trump, a presidential candidate, will continue the attack even though he has pleaded not guilty to 34 New York state felony counts related to alleged hush money payments to an adult film star.)
Insurance, DeSantis and Trump, Gary Fineout writes in Politico:
“Florida lawmakers want to bring the ‘hammer’ down on ‘bad actors’ in the property insurance industry, and they are moving quickly to send a new legislative proposal to Governor Ron DeSantis.
“The push comes just three weeks after former President Donald Trump accused DeSantis of bailing out politically-powerful industries and said the governor ‘crushed homeowners’ after Hurricane Ian…
“Trump — who Republicans consider a swipe at DeSantis for the presidential race — tore into the governor last month over the issues, saying in a social media post that ‘Rino Ron DeSantimonious is delivering the biggest insurance bailout in history to globalist insurance companies. .’
“‘He’s also ripping off homeowners whose homes were destroyed by hurricanes,’ Trump wrote. ‘They’re getting pennies on the dollar. … This is the worst insurance scam in the entire country!,'” Fineout wrote.
Meanwhile, consumers should continue to submit complaints through the Division of Consumer Services online complaint portal @ https://apps.fldfs.com/ESERVICE/Default.aspx.