Thousands of Florida homeowners are still waiting for much-needed insurance payouts from the damages caused by Hurricane Michael. The state's insurance commissioner called on insurance companies to take action to close the over 42,000 outstanding hurricane damage claims related to the storm that hit Florida in October 2018. The commissioner issued a letter to insurers, reminding them that undisputed homeowners' insurance claims must be paid out within 90 days of receipt under state insurance laws.
Hurricane Michael was almost a Category 5 storm, and it cost more than $4.5 billion in insured damages. The largest category of hurricane damage claims were made by residential property owners, most commonly against their homeowners' insurance policies. According to state statistics, 88,624 of these residential claims were filed with insurance companies, and 68.9 percent of them had been closed by Dec. 14. On the other hand, 68.3 percent of outstanding business insurance claims had been closed by the same date. State officials urged insurance companies to step up their customer service solutions in order to expedite the claims efficiently. The commissioner suggested establishing mobile offices or even taking on additional staff.
The state's chief financial officer also said that Florida homeowners would become more vulnerable to insurance fraudsters if insurers fail to pay their claims promptly. The Department of Financial Services reported receiving 993 calls about Hurricane Michael claims, and 24 percent of those calls were questions about delayed responses. Another 10 percent of callers noted their dissatisfaction with claim denials and policy cancellation or non-renewal.
Many homeowners across the state are still struggling with significant damages, yet their homeowners' insurance claims have yet to be paid. An insurance lawyer can help a homeowner fight for their rights if they are facing claim denials, delays or other attempts by insurers to avoid paying what they owe.