In October, 2018, Hurricane Michael devastated much of the Florida Panhandle region. The Category 5 storm caused 43 deaths and widespread catastrophic damage to residential and commercial properties. Undoubtedly, Michael is still fresh in our memories a year later as the 2019 Hurricane Season draws to a close.
Unfortunately, Floridians who live and work in the areas hardest hit by Michael are reminded daily of the storm’s devastation, since their insurance companies have not yet paid their property damage claims and they are still struggling to recover. In fact, according to data on filings received by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, 12,382 residential property claims and 3,773 commercial property claims from Hurricane Michael were still open as of September 27, 2019.
How does this happen? Why are insured Florida property owners still trying to recover their losses from a hurricane that hit over a year ago? In this blog post, I’m going to discuss some of the tactics insurance carriers use to delay payment and explain what you can do if your insurance claim is delayed or denied.
How Florida Insurance Companies Delay Payments for Property Damage Claims
Insurance companies often delay paying on claims so they can earn more interest on their holdings and, at the same time, wear down policyholders so they will accept a lower settlement. This is especially common when there are numerous claims following a severe storm.
Insurers use many different tactics to delay payments:
- Asking for voluminous documentation before processing your claim
- Requesting information in unnecessary increments
- Not communicating with you about the claim in a timely manner
- Delaying an adjuster’s assessment
- Extending the investigation of the claim when there is no good reason to do so
- Changing your claim representative
These delay tactics can have financial and emotional consequences for policyholders whose property has been damaged. After hurricane damage, property owners are devastated; they want repairs done so they can get on with their lives. When their insurance companies delay payments, they often become so desperate to get the necessary repair work done, they accept low offers. As former Florida House Speaker Allan Bense explained at a news conference for Rebuild 850, an organization formed to solicit support for the Florida Panhandle’s recovery from Hurricane Michael, “Insurance companies . . . try to beat you down.”
What to Do if Your Insurance Company Delays Payment on a Claim
When filing a claim with your insurance company, it’s a good idea to work with them in good faith to try to resolve all issues.
Provide them with thorough, accurate information
Complete the claim paperwork correctly and respond to your insurance company’s requests for information, as long as they seem reasonable and are made within a reasonable timeframe following the damage.
Call and write to encourage prompt action
If you want information on the status of your claim, call and ask your insurer. If you’re persistent and firm, you may get results. If you don’t, you can try writing to the company and reporting a delay to a supervisor and/or the president of the company. You can also file a complaint with the Division of Consumer Services of the Florida Department of Financial Services.
Get help from an experienced Florida insurance claim attorney.
Under Florida law, claims are supposed to be paid within 90 days. Therefore, if you’ve tried getting your insurance company to respond fairly to your claim and are not satisfied with their response, it may well be time to get help from an experienced Florida insurance claim attorney.
A qualified attorney will be able to identify and resolve problems. In many cases, a convincing letter from an attorney can result in a prompt, acceptable payment on a claim, since insurance companies do not want to risk being involved in a lawsuit. In other cases, a lawsuit may be necessary to get the necessary payment.
The Insurance Claim Attorneys of Malik Law Can Help with Your Florida Property Damage Claims
Malik Law, PA is one of Florida’s leading insurance litigation law firms. We provide personalized, high quality legal representation for property owners and injury victims seeking justice. We have helped our clients recover millions of dollars from insurance companies and want to help you get your claim paid in a timely manner so you can get on with your life.
The attorneys of Malik Law have extensive experience in helping clients get paid fairly for delayed, denied, and underpaid claims. For expert advice and personalized service, call us, chat online with us, or submit the Free Case Evaluation form on our website.
Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board. (2019, Oct. 9). Where are the insurance checks for Hurricane Michael? | Editorial. Tampa Bay Times. tampabay.com
Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. (2019, Sept. 27). Hurricane Michael claims data. floir.com