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Many Hurricane Irma damage claims denied by insurers

For Florida residents who have faced serious damage to their homes and property due to Hurricane Irma, insurance denials can be a major concern. Approximately half of the property and small business owners in three Florida counties who filed insurance claims for hurricane damages after the major storm have received a payout from their insurance company. However, five months after the storm, a large number of homeowners and business operators in the area have seen their claims denied or unpaid.

Approximately 10 percent of the hurricane damage claims in Charlotte, Sarasota and DeSoto counties remain classified as open, meaning that the insurance company has not yet made a determination on the case. The remaining cases have been closed as either paid or unpaid.

After Irma hit the area on Sept. 10, 2017, around 20,430 insurance claims were filed in the three Florida counties. Of these claims, 48 percent were paid out by insurance companies, a smaller percentage than the state average, which was approximately 53 percent. Around 40 percent of the claims went unpaid.

In Charlotte County, around 50 percent of the claims were paid, and 40 percent were denied; the remainder are still open. Nearby, in Sarasota County, 45 percent of claims were paid, 43 percent were unpaid, and the remaining 12 percent are still open. However, in DeSoto County, 62 percent were paid and only 25 percent went unpaid with the rest remaining open. In all counties, the majority of Hurricane Irma insurance claims were filed by Florida homeowners.

People in Florida who have had their hurricane damage claims denied by their homeowners or small business insurance policy after Irma may be able to work with a lawyer to challenge the claim denial. Insurance law attorneys might help fight insurers' claims of pre-existing damage, classification of damage as water rather than wind or attempts to shift responsibility to the homeowner.

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