Several task forces are wrapping up their work in Florida and heading back home after helping residents recover from Hurricane Ian. Now some residents are facing another hurdle: their home insurance claims are being rejected.
Floridians whose homes were destroyed or in need of repairs, and businesses equally in need of aid, have filed claims with their insurance companies and FEMA only to be rejected or in some cases deal with fraud.
“I went in to apply for FEMA and just found out that somebody’s already applied, a fraudulent claim using all my information, my social security number,” Fort Myers resident Susan Dettor told CNN.
FEMA has a complete list of areas eligible for assistance, including Lee, Orange and Sarasota counties.
Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier issued an emergency order that prevents insurers from dropping any clients or not allowing them to renew their policies. The order is under the Florida Insurance Code and lasts from Sept. 28, 2022, to Nov. 28, 2022. Although insurance companies aren’t allowed to drop any existing clients, that does not mean their claims cannot be denied. But according to the Insurance Information Institute, only 18% of Florida homeowners have flood insurance, which leaves many Floridians without the proper coverage.
“I thought hurricane insurance covered surge because that’s part of the hurricane. It does not,” Fort Myers resident Thom Delforge also told CNN.
The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation says the number of claims is expected to continue to rise. Over a quarter of a million claims already submitted and overall payouts could be anywhere between the $60-70 billion range.
Just a few months prior to Hurricane Ian, laws such as ‘My Safe FL Home’ were recently re-enacted to provide grants to homeowners to retrofit their homes and add hurricane protection, but they are still not active. However people severely impacted by the storm are still encouraged to file for FEMA Individual Assistance, which may include temporary housing and disaster-related needs.
During a press conference in Tallahassee last month, Gov. DeSantis addressed the state of insurance in Florida as Hurricane Ian was making its way towards Florida.
“This is a problem that we’re going to continue to tackle,” DeSantis said. “Clearly, there’s other things legislatively that I’d like to see done. I think we will get that done soon, but this is something that we will respond to.”
Now DeSantis says the state’s goal is to help those impacted by the storm with insurance claims and called for them to be “paid very quickly so that people can get back on their feet.”