In September 2017, Hurricane Irma caused billions of dollars in damage throughout Florida and other areas of the South. Nearly a year after the hurricane hit, some people are continuing to have damage claims paid by their insurers. In one case, a homeowner filed a lawsuit in state court.
In a complaint filed on August 15, 2018, a Miami homeowner sued his insurer for unpaid claims for damage due to Irma. The complaint alleges that the policy was paid and in force at the time the storm hit, that claims were filed with the insurer and that the insurer has failed or refused to pay the claim in full. In particular, the homeowner claims that repairs for the roofing have not been paid in full as well as other remedial repairs.
From the language of the complaint, it is not known whether the insurer affirmatively rejected the claim or has simply neglected to process it. In either event, according to the homeowner, all damages covered under the policy have gone unpaid. To date, the insurer has not filed an answer to the complaint and has not publicly stated the reason for not paying. The suit was filed in the 9th Circuit Court of Orange County.
An insurance policy is a form of contract with duties and obligations placed upon both the insured homeowner and the insurer. This is true in situations whether damage was due to fire, vandalism, hail or in this case a hurricane. Though the state has regulatory power over the insurance company’s rights under the policy, contract law still applies. Often, a case becomes a breach of contract suit. For this reason, those who have not been paid under a claim due to damage caused by a natural disaster might retain the services of a contract attorney experienced in insurance contracts.
Source: Florida Record, “Florida Homeowner claims Nationwide Insurance failed to cover all damages from Hurricane Irma,” Noddy A. Fernandez, August 25, 2018