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Insurance delays plague Florida homeowners 1 year after Irma

An emergency declaration issued by Gov. Rick Scott after Hurricane Irma allowed insurance companies to lower their hiring standards for insurance adjusters. The loosened regulations were meant to speed up the evaluation of hurricane damage and claims processing. One year after the serious storm, thousands of policy holders continue to wait for money, and many people blame inexperienced adjusters for the widespread delays.

The manager of the Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters acknowledged that adjuster mistakes have worsened the backlog of insurance problems. A spokesman from the state's largest insurer of windstorm damage said that ill-trained adjusters should not bear all of the blame. High construction costs and shortages of skilled labor have ground many claims to a halt.

Although many issues contribute to repair problems, a Big Pine Key homeowner blamed his insurance company. He has received no money even after five adjusters evaluated his property. He eventually obtained a court's approval to demolish the building, which prompted his insurer to threaten him with criminal charges. Other problems experienced by homeowners include the premature closure of claims or insurance companies that completely ignore communications from policy holders.

Mistakes by adjusters or unresponsive insurance companies could leave people in limbo as they pay mortgages on properties that they cannot occupy. A person who wants to know about legal rights could consult an attorney knowledgeable about hurricane damage claims. An attorney could examine the insurance contract and challenge illegitimate denials or delays and could pressure an insurer to fulfill its obligations or to pay damages that have been sustained.

Source: Emergency Management, "Tens of Thousands of Floridians Still Face Insurance 'Nightmares' After Hurricane Irma", Alex Harris, Sept. 7, 2018

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