Insurance Adjusters Drastically Reduce Compensation for Hurricane Ian Damage in Florida
The insurance market in Florida has been on the brink of disaster for years. In the past two decades, major insurance carriers, including giants such as State Farm, have reduced their coverage in the Sunshine State. Since 2020, fifteen property insurance companies have gone insolvent. Insurance adjusters have recently begun to see carriers reduce estimates for damage and deny roof replacements. Instances of litigation have even increased, and of course, payouts are continuously delayed or never materialize.
The Washington Post recently reported that insurance companies have been drastically underpaying Hurricane Ian claims. Their investigation revealed that regional insurance carriers have been changing the work of independent adjusters hired to assess the damage. They have been lowering totals, rewriting the descriptions of damage, and removing photos of damage without the adjuster’s approval. While it is normal for field adjusters to work with in-office adjusters to make small adjustments and alter minor line items, the extent of their attempts to devalue Hurricane Ian damage is not how the system is supposed to work and may constitute criminal fraud.
Hurricane Ian made landfall as a category 4 hurricane in Southwestern Florida on September 28, 2022, and was the strongest hurricane to hit Florida since Hurricane Michael in 2018. Ian brought intense winds, heavy rainfall, and catastrophic storm surges. Hurricane Ian is Florida’s most expensive storm on record and, globally, the costliest natural disaster in 2022.
For their investigation, the Washington Post interviewed dozens of policyholder advocates, attorneys, insurance adjusters, and Hurricane Ian survivors. They reviewed 13 claims in both original and modified formats, hundreds of pages of estimates, photos, and loss reports. They also obtained internal records, final payment letters, and correspondence. Documents obtained by the Washington Post reveal that a dozen policyholders had their Hurricane Ian property insurance claims reduced by 45 to 97 percent.
Those interviewed for this investigation found the courage to speak out against the multi-billion dollar insurance industry because they feel that the volatility of the insurance market has reached a tipping point. Purposefully revising claims in order to misrepresent the work of independent adjusters reveals the extent of the insurance crisis, and more oversight, reform, and accountability are needed to ensure that policyholders are not left to foot the bill for repairs the insurance company should pay.
The American Policyholder Association, a nonprofit insurance industry watchdog group, said in statement that there is “compelling evidence of what appears to be multiple instances of systematic criminal fraud perpetrated to cheat policyholders out of fair insurance claims.” They further indicated they would be submitting criminal referrals to the appropriate authorities.
Data compiled by the state of Florida shows that 708,255 claims have been rejected or have yet to be paid out, even though the 90 days insurance companies have to pay or deny a claim has long since ended.
Pinnacle Claim Services in Florida is Here to Help
If you need assistance understanding the language of your insurance policy and a professional public adjuster to help evaluate home or commercial damage after Hurricane Ian, contact Pinnacle Claim Services to find out what your claim is really worth.