Victims of Hurricane Irma Ask: What’s in Your Wallet?

Victims of housing damage from Hurricane Irma submitted almost 700,000 claims.  Metts Legal begins this article with some quick Florida statistics from Hurricane Irma Policy holders.  We will pretend that a claims report is a sports report.  Read on and you will see the reason for our comparison.

To date insurance companies have paid and closed 211093 of those 700,000 claims.  Insurance companies have closed but not paid 161,154 cases of claims and left 299,859 open.  This means that insurance companies have paid only 55.4% of the Irma claims against them.

At Metts Legal, we might not know what the general public thinks about that percentage.  However, we think comparable “stats” would fail to get the companies a championship game if they were college football teams.

Victims filed quickly but some were delayed because of improper documentation.

Victims of hurricane Irma tried to file quickly and completely.

A Quick Look Back the Beginning:  Policy Victims and Claims

As of a month after the storm, how many insurance dollars do you think were approved and paid to the claimants? You will be shocked to know.  Companies in the first month after Irma had paid only about $100 million dollars.  This is out of the 42-64 billion estimated insurance claims.
You might remember the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation reported, “Hurricane Irma caused plenty of flooding.”  And “most of its damage was due to excessive wind that reached up to 185 miles per hour.”   At that time they mentioned that insurance companies had not paid a shocking 80% of the claims.

A Trifecta of Insurance Shockers for Irma’s Insured Victims

Upon the rejection of their claims, many policy-holders immediately registered complaints.  Some of the fortunate ones immediately hired lawyers.

Some of Irma’s victims of property loss feel victimized twice.  Once due to the storm and once by their own insurance company.   At Metts Legal, we know every case is unique.  However, we also know three major groups of claimants who were hit with shockers from their insurance company.

They were victims of denial, delay and deductible.

Victim Shocker #1:  The Denial Demolition Derby

The first and most emotionally flattened group of claimants were the policyholders whose company flat out denied their claim.  Sometimes this was a matter of proper paperwork.  When it came to personal property, lawyers like us, found they had rushed their claim so quickly that it had glaring errors.  Likewise, some claimants really needed to hold off filing until they had the proper documents to include with the claim.

Victim Shocker #2:  The Waiting Gamers

Some of the homeowners have endured overwhelming wait times. Many of us probably heard stories of the Hurricane Sandy victims who were still waiting for insurance payments when Hurricane Harvey hit.  This group of victims have been put on indefinite “hold,” and endured horrible waiting times.  They wait–not only for settlement, but for fair and legal phone conversations.

Victims remind us to prepare for storms.

Victims of hurricane Irma remind us to be prepared with proper insurance against hurricanes and floods. 

Victim Shocker #3:  The Deductible Demons

The A third group has been hit with unexpectedly high hurricane insurance deductibles.  According to the policy experts, “Most homeowners have a deductible that equals 2 to 5 percent of their home’s worth.  That means they must pay a very high amount to even get the repair process started.  And many do not have the resources to pay that much out of pocket.”

As you might imagine, because of this deductible issue, property owners will absorb some big costs—It all adds up to at least $13 billion of the residential damages.  This group is the one that asks if you know “what’s in your policy?”  In case you did not catch the meaning of those words, they play off of the commercial slogan, “What’s in your wallet?”  As you shall see below, not everyone knows what is in their home or flood insurance policy.

Policy-holders and Victims of Natural Disasters Bear More Burdens in the 21st Century Economy

These statistics don’t surprise us at Metts Legal because we know less than 20 percent of the people in Florida have flood insurance.  Robert S. Hunter of the Consumer Federation of America predicted that Floridians would have to pay a lion’s share of cash to repair Irma’s damages.

Hunter told Forbes over a month ago, “Unfortunately, we believe that families will have to dig deeper into their pockets than ever, because insurers have been steadily increasing hurricane wind coverage deductibles and setting new limits [on payouts].”

He added that expecting homeowners to foot big bills “may take some people by surprise.  This happens since disclosures are often buried in renewal paperwork that consumers may not understand or even read.”

Victims Beware:  An Insurance Policy Can Hide a Snare

By far the some of the most wrongful cases of denial or delay to Irma’s victims have involved companies with hidden wording in policies about “anti-concurrent-causation” clauses. These statements remove the company’s responsibility for wind damage if an uninsured flood happens simultaneously. His background includes a stint as a former insurance commissioner for the state of Texas, so we give his words high marks for credibility.

We tend to agree with his opinion that “These egregious clauses are impossible for consumers to comprehend, as most people cannot believe that their insurance company would sell them a policy with wind coverage,”  And he added, “…that could disappear through a trap door hidden deep in the policy language.”

Your Take-Away from Metts Legal Today

In our next blog, Metts Legal will bring you a list of ways you can be better prepare for this terrible trifecta of victim shockers after a catastrophic event.

However, we believe our legal services are your best recourse if you feel like your insurance does not treat you in a fair and timely manner.  Give us a call.  We specialize in helping people in the three groups above who were zapped by the insurance company’s victim shockers.

And when you buy your next home or flood insurance policy, we highly recommend that you devote time to reading every clause, phrase and word of it in detail.  Oh, we know it’s dull and boring reading at the time of purchase.  This especially true when the sun is shining.  However, if you are a victim, standing in the dark ruined vision of a home after a hurricane like Irma, that policy becomes the most exciting piece of printed paper you ever read.

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