Government officials in Florida are being critical of insurance companies for their failure to settle claims resulting from Hurricane Michael in 2018. The storm was rated as Category 5 and included winds gusting up to 161 miles per hour. It caused insured losses estimated at over $7.2 billion. More than 17,000 insurance claims were still pending as of Sept. 27, 2019. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation said that 12,145 of the remaining insurance claims are for personal residential damages.
Compared to Hurricane Irma, according to the Florida OIR, Hurricane Michael was costlier with regard to the amount of losses paid and the number of total claims. The average claim resulting from Hurricane Michael was for approximately $44,831. Lawmakers expressed to the Florida insurance commissioner that they are not pleased with the lack of action in the wake of Hurricane Michael. A state senator said during a meeting of the Florida Senate Banking & Insurance Committee that the claims need to be handled properly.
The committee tasked the insurance commissioner with expanding the OIR investigation to examine which insurance companies are being complained about the most. The insurance industry has said that the number of outstanding claims remaining is due to many factors, including a shortage of contractors to do the necessary repair work. Insurers are required by law to close claims during defined periods; the president of the Personal Insurance Federation of Florida said that the insurers are committed to resolve the Hurricane Michael claims.
People in Florida who are owed money by an insurance company might benefit from the help of an attorney. An attorney who has experience practicing insurance law might help by putting together documents to communicate hurricane damage claims to the insurer or by negotiating with the insurer to secure payment. An attorney might be able to negotiate to increase the value of a claim or bring an action in cases where the insurance company refuses to pay.