In the Wake of Hurricane Ian, Florida’s Public Servants Need to be Claim Smart and Shift Focus to Florida Policyholders
by Rick Tutwiler on 10/2/2022
Hurricane Ian is going to be a long hard insurance claim tragedy for Florida homeowners and businesses alike given the state of the insurance industry. Here’s what’s next for policyholder insurance claims, the adjustment process, and how industry consultants can help bring everyone together.
It’s becoming clearer that in coastal areas, flood rather than wind claims are going to drive a majority of losses, leaving folks at the mercy of the complicated FEMA/NFIP recovery process.
An article published by the New York Times today quoted homeowners in Ft. Myers saying: “their biggest headache in the aftermath of the storm has been dealing with their insurance companies. Mr. Lazzell said that, like many people in Florida, they had to buy separate insurance plans for their cars and home. And now, the companies are pointing fingers at one another, trying to pass on responsibility.” One thing we call all agree on, is that everyone in Florida is completely vulnerable as the groundwork is being laid by the industry.
In a separate article published by the TBT, a former deputy director of the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation who now consults for the industry, was more blunt saying: “Do not answer your front door,’’ she said. “People you know come to your back door. People you don’t know come to your front door.” People are being urged to be patient with their insurance companies, informing folks they “have two years to report the claim,’’ and to call the former deputy director direct with questions. Are people not supposed to answer when FEMA or other officials knock on their front door? And the last time I looked, policyholder’s don’t have 2-years to resolve their flood claims. As we have written in the past, Policyholders need to know what’s required of flood policies, Proof of Loss deadlines and timely reporting of claims.
You know it’s an election year when Florida Officials politicize every comment. They paint a broad brush on an entire group that is a resource for recovery by warning Floridians to be wary of disreputable claims adjusters, lawyers and roofing contractors who are poised to exploit the vulnerable. Surly, most consumers are unaware of the insurance industry’s double-dealer dynamics playing out for policyholder’s recovering from Ian.
One thought that comes to mind is to solve the connectivity (cell, internet) issues existing in the area. Does anyone have a direct line to Mr. Elon Musk? He’s know for his humanitarianism and surely Mr. Musk’s Starlink system could improve communications for Hurricane Ian victims as it has done to help Ukraine. Update: Mr. Musk in fact did come thru for the State of Florida. In addition to repositioning satellites to improve internet coverage, SpaceX, the company that operates Starlink, was expected to deploy 120 “large Starlink units” to be used on the ground.
While Florida’s insurance industry is rushing adjusters through 1 ½ day crash courses, resolving logistical and supply chain issues, the leaders in our state need to set aside the finger pointing and opportunistic political nonsense and focus on the big picture future for Florida consumers. As a start they ought to begin by picking up the phone and make it easier when our clients ask for a copy of their policy and stop alienating professional resources that can help get the state back on its feet sooner.