On February 1, 2019, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation released updated claim data for Hurricane Michael. Despite hitting a relatively less densely populated area of the state, OIR has calculated the total estimated insured losses to date at $5,527,887,797 on just 143,600 claims from just 15 counties. For comparison, Hurricane Irma’s total losses now stand at $11,082,199,367, from over 1,0002,821 claims originating in each of the 67 counties of the state. These claim numbers and values support what we’ve all noticed on the ground following Michael, which is that the stronger, more compact Michael caused catastrophic damage where it struck. On the other hand, the broader but weaker Irma affected more of the population of the state but caused, overall, less severe damage.
Of those Michael claims filed, OIR reports that 75.2% of the claims are closed at this time. Notably, commercial property claims are only sitting at a 30% closure rate while residential claims are at 75.3%. Commercial claims understandably take longer to resolve as the facilities and structures involved are on scales that vastly exceed single family residential units. As a result, disputes over coverages and repair amounts is multiplied significantly.
Also, of note, of the 143,600 claims from Michael there were 35,668 claims still open, 90,867 claims closed with payment, and 17,065 claims closed without payment. As you might expect, most of the claims reported, 60%, came from Bay County, Florida. It follows that the most open claims in the state are also in Bay County, 72.5%. Unfortunately, the claims and rebuilding process across the panhandle, and in Bay County in particular, is going to take years to complete.
As we saw following Irma, there are many policyholders affected by the storm now that have either had their claim denied or been advised that their damages are not enough to exceed the policy deductible for hurricane loss. Unfortunately, in reviewing many claims stemming from Irma, quick claim closure in the form of denial or loss under deductible was often unsupported by the facts and damages suffered by Florida policyholders. Bennett Legal successfully demonstrated numerous instances of improper claim denial and claim underpayment following Hurricane Irma and obtained policy benefits policyholders thought would never come. If you have a concern that your claim may have been wrongfully denied or simply underpaid, a claim review by an insurance lawyer is just a phone call away and no cost to you. Call Bennett Legal today at (941) 747-7272.