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Insurers accused of needlessly slowing Florida hurricane recovery

Both homeowners and contractors in Florida say they are experiencing frustrating delays from insurers as efforts to rebuild and recover from Hurricane Michael continue. However, some insurance providers are refuting these claims, stating that initial low estimates may be corrected later. They assert that it takes time to make appropriate adjustments. Still, some homeowners in hurricane-damaged neighborhoods remain frustrated with the claims process.

Homeowners, contractors, lawyers and public adjusters gathered during a town hall meeting in Panama City Beach on Jan. 16 to vent their frustrations about the hurricane damage claims. A contractor trade advocacy group hosted the event for the purpose of giving homeowners and local contractors a chance to express their concerns. Some of the attendees claim insurers are using delay tactics to put off making payments. One homeowner reported having repair quotes totaling more than $200,000 while only receiving $40,000 from their insurance company.

A representative from a water mitigation company reported that there is a widespread need for recovery work in the hurricane-affected area. Nevertheless, the company claims insurance companies are undercutting costs of contractor labor. An attorney speaking at the event reported getting several complaints from clients about insurers delaying payments and low-balling estimates. The lawyer conceded insurers may very well be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the storm and not fully prepared to handle a flood of claims, but he says this is not a valid excuse. The head of the Florida Association of Insurance Agents refutes such assertions, noting most claims have been closed and can still be re-opened if adjustments need to be made.

Following an insurance claim denial, policyholders are advised to first get a clear explanation for why this decision was made. An attorney may get involved if efforts to appeal a denial aren't successful. Legal counsel could also help if the claims process is unreasonably slow, especially since there are state regulations meant to prevent such actions.

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