Fort Myers Beach Vice Mayor Jim Atterholt has heard enough insurance company horror stories that he wants residents to take action. He believes some insurance companies are not paying legitimate claims and it’s slowing down recovery efforts on the island.
Karen Hoffman owns a condo unit at Carlos Pointe on the south end of the beach. She shared her insurance company horror story with us Monday. “While we are technically on the 4th floor and had no flooding or damage beyond ripped lanai screen, the building had the entire ground floor washed away along with the infrastructure (no electricity, no water lines, no sewer lines, etc.). The building is uninhabitable and will be until at least September of 2024. We filed a claim for loss of use. Florida Peninsula sent their field adjuster out within 3 weeks of Ian. I provided cancelled rent receipts for guests totaling over $30,000. After a couple of months of waiting I was told that my loss of use claim was denied because, although I have a hurricane policy a with $6,000 loss of use clause, the reason for the loss is not covered under my policy. The rep rattled something off about wind driven rain being the cause (aka a hurricane) but its not covered under my hurricane policy. The bonus…Florida Peninsula dropped our coverage about a week later.”
Stories like Karen’s are taking place all over the island. Here’s another from a Fort Myers beach property owner. “We promptly paid premiums for 15 years with Florida Peninsula Insurance Company. Our coverage limit was $288,000. We had severe roof damage from Ian. Their adjuster determined there was minor damage (5 squares) that could be repaired for $5,500. I doubt he ever went up there. Our deductible is $5,700 so they paid us zero. Two professional engineers (hired by us) determined the roof was severely damaged and needed to be replaced. 5 different roofing companies agreed. A new tile roof will cost $60 to $75K. And much more for damage under the roof down to the high water line, likely $100 to $200K more. We hired a Public Adjuster. The PA will cost us 10% of whatever payout we receive. We hired an attorney to sue the insurance company. The attorney will be paid 25% of whatever payout we get. Bottom line — we will pay the PA and attorney 35% of whatever payout we receive when the insurance company should have paid out immediately without us having to litigate.”
Many homeowners are being forced to hire a Public Adjuster or Attorney to help them deal with their insurance companies. Atterholt says beach residents are being “stonewalled.”
For people on Fort Myers Beach, the nightmare of losing everything they own, and the stress of having to figure out how to rebuild, is being compounded by insurance companies turning their back on customers when they need them the most. One option you may not know about is mediation. Read up on that option HERE.
Atterholt says residents who feel they are getting the insurance company runaround should file a complaint with Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis (HERE) and the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (HERE). He says he wants the state to conduct an audit of these insurance companies and a “market conduct exam” to expose the bad actors and to correct the inappropriate behavior. Atterholt believes some insurance companies are not paying legitimate claims with the hope that after awhile property owners will just give up.