Florida Tornados and Windstorm Damage Claims – One or Two Events?
Florida has gone through a remarkable decade without any wide spread wind losses. The past two weeks broke this lucky streak when two weather events resulted in tornado damage on the west coast of Florida, most notably in Coral Springs, Siesta Key and Sarasota. It seems that most experts contribute these wind loses to the El Niño weather phenomenon currently in place. Over the next few weeks there will be a rash of tornado and wind damage insurance claims.
Listening to the weather experts, it sounds like these two extreme weather events are a harbinger of things to come. We are being warned of at least three more months of heightened serve weather activity in Florida related to El Niño.
Turning to the two January tornado events in Florida, insurance claims and the settlement of those losses will be on at the forefront for policyholders who had the misfortune of having damaged property. A tornado wind loss will have to be considered as just that, a wind loss. Thankfully, high hurricane deductibles will not apply. Other policy language placed in insurance policies to help the insurance carriers reduce loss ratios for hurricanes will also be off the table.
My main concern about the current Florida wind damage will be if the carriers treat the losses as one or two events given all the rain that followed the wind destruction. The first tornado loss that occurred in Lee County caused a number of structures to lose their roof integrity. Then a week later despite being temporarily tarped, many interiors were damaged from the rain. This will be a big deal and it will be interesting to see how the carriers deal with this.
And remember, a lot of insurance companies are pushing for their preferred vendors to do the work and take away the right of a policyholder to repair their property. No doubt some claims will be made against preferred vendors for failure to do adequate temporary repairs before the next event occurred a week later.
Let’s hope the insurance industry will accept all the damages (be it wind or rain) as one event, even though in some cases a week passed from the first wind event. If they do not, things may get adversarial between the carriers, their preferred vendors and most unfortunately the policyholder.
Maybe the Office of Insurance Regulation will step in and used their influence to prompt the carriers into action that benefits the policyholder instead of big insurance. We will keep you advised as things progress and we get reports back from our team that are on the ground assisting homeowners and businesses in both affected areas.
If you have questions regarding any property insurance claim related issues please call 800.321.4488 or contact us to submit a question to one of our public adjuster insurance claim experts.