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Hurricane Michael damage claims continue to rise

Florida homeowners are facing significant losses from Hurricane Michael, a Category 4 storm that caused serious damage along the Florida Panhandle in October. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation said that estimated insured losses from the hurricane are greater than $2.1 billion to date. The office also said that there were 110,183 insurance claims filed for hurricane damage and that 26.1 percent of the claims had been closed by the end of October. The state agency compiled these statistics based on reports from all insurers.

The majority of hurricane damage claims were related to residential property losses. Over 78,000 of the insurance claims that were filed were residential in nature, and 57,088 of those were claims on a homeowners' insurance policy. Only around one-fifth of all of these homeowners' claims had been closed by Oct. 30. Other types of insurance claims included commercial property damage, private flood claims and business interruption coverage. Commercial claims were less likely than residential as only 10.3 percent of the 4,471 claims submitted had been closed by the October date.

Some have speculated that the total cost due to Hurricane Michael's property damage will escalate to a range of $4.5 billion to $10 billion. While the insurance payouts could be significant, insurance companies noted that they did not expect paying the claims to cause problems. Insurance industry experts cited the insurers' billions of dollars in surplus capital, noting that they are well-placed to pay hurricane victims' claims.

Nevertheless, many homeowners have faced difficulties when filing homeowners' insurance claims for their losses. Insurers may try to drive down reimbursements or even deny claims after clear, legitimate hurricane damage. An insurance lawyer can help a homeowner fight back and work to get the compensation they deserve.

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