Florida lawmakers have begun the process of estimating the damages to the mostly rural and low-income Panhandle region that bore the brunt of Hurricane Michael in October 2018. The state senate's Banking and Insurance Committee chairman said that the state needed to gather figures about the short and long-term costs of the storm to evaluate what the state could pay for and what was needed from the federal government.
On Oct. 10, 2018, Hurricane Michael destroyed a portion of the Florida Panhandle, killing more than 40 people and inflicting at least $6.5 billion in property losses. As many as 375,000 people were forced to evacuate prior to the storm's arrival. Since that time, there have been more than 135,000 property insurance claims filed, and at least 100,000 people and 16 counties are seeking assistance through federal and state agencies.
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.
One Florida woman got her 2018 Christmas present more than a year after her home sustained damage from Hurricane Irma - an adjusted claim payment that allowed her to repair her home. However, this homeowner's claim's process was anything but smooth. Initially, the claim amount was far below what was needed to repair extensive roof damage, so a complaint was filed with the Department of Financial Services that resulted in a long insurance company battle.
Hurricane Michael, which hit the state of Florida in October of 2018, is likely to have negative budget impacts on the state for at least a few years. Costs for recovery and relief are anticipated to go above the ones needed for Hurricane Irma in 2017. Before the hurricane hit, official projections showed a budget surplus. Financial analysts are new predicting that surplus will disappear as Florida residents try to recover from the disaster.
Some analysts say that Florida homeowners are facing unprecedented homeowners' insurance premiums, but the growth in fees cannot be attributed to hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters. Instead, analysts claim that provisions in the state's insurance laws allow contractors to exploit the system to obtain high payments at the expense of insurance companies and, eventually, homeowners. State law allows for Assignment of Benefits, or AOB, under which homeowners can assign the right to their benefits to a third party.
In October 2018, Hurricane Michael made landfall in Florida, which lead to 35 people losing their lives. At the time of landfall, the storm had sustained winds of 155 miles per hour, and it was noted for its rapid intensification just before impacting land. Both storm surge and fallen trees caused significant property damage in Mexico Beach and surrounding areas. Furthermore, building codes did not require that structures in the area be able to resist the storm's strong winds.
The impact of Hurricane Irma on Florida has become even clearer with the release of figures by the State Office of Insurance Regulation showing that more than a million insurance claims have been filed because of this storm. Estimated losses have already passed $11 billion, according to the state agency that tracks insurance losses and claims. While claims have slowed down since the storm hit in September of 2017, thousands of additional hurricane-related claims continue to be filed on a regular basis.
As the Office of Insurance Regulation continues to tally insurance claims arising from Hurricane Michael, Citizens Property Insurance Corp. announced that the storm will not negatively impact its finances. The bulk of personal policies written by Citizens apply to properties in South Florida, and damage from Michael was concentrated in the northwest region of the state.
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.