Florida families facing delays, disputes for
Hurricane Ian repairs look to consumer watchdog
Florida families are still
battling with insurance companies over Hurricane Ian claims, 10
months ago. A consumer watchdog and Superstorm Sandy survivor
Article Courtesy of FOX 13 NEWS
By Craig Patrick
June 28, 2023
PUNTA GORDA - In Punta Gorda,
Hurricane Ian damaged Michelle Bennett’s roof and soaked her floors and
walls. Mold still took off, and insurance denied her claim for mold
damage on grounds that she should have done more to prevent it.
"I put a tarp on it within a week and a
dehumidifier to prevent mold," she said. "How was I
Bennett said her insurer told her this wasn’t the end of her
case, and requested she send a letter providing more
Meanwhile, in Englewood, Elizabeth and Gary LaFlamme’s home
had $1 million of insurance coverage and still has a busted
They say they did not receive funds to replace it, because
they have a $9,000 deductible and their insurer said they
could get the roof patched. The LaFlamme's say the tiles
would not match, because the company that made these tiles
went out of business years ago.
"They’re holding us hostage, because if we don’t fix our
roof, we can’t go to another insurance company," Gary
The insurance company said this homeowner didn't do
enough to prevent mold after Hurricane Ian even amid the power
outage and historic flooding.
Nearly 10 months after Hurricane Ian, many other families also still
can’t get their homes repaired due to a combination of delays and
State lawmakers responded with an
accountability law. It steps up fines and enforcement for
insurers that violate state codes, but consumer advocates
say we still need more oversight and transparency.
Doug Quinn is a consumer watchdog who knows what they’re
"Despite having $250k in flood insurance it took us seven
years to rebuild our home," he said.
In 2012, Superstorm Sandy swamped his home in New Jersey and
cracked the foundation. His insurance said that wasn’t from
the movement of water but rather the movement of soil.
"Fundamental shifting of the supporting
soils, therefore exclusion of coverage," Quinn said.
"Movement of earth is excluded from insurance coverage, so
they denied a majority of my claim.
Another Florida couple is battling for insurance
funds to replace their Ian ravaged roof.
They paid me around 37 cents on the dollar."
He sued and eventually settled for another $130,000
and now leads the non-profit American Policyholder Association, which
promotes integrity and best practices in insurance.
Consumer watchdog explains delays
Quinn cites three problems. The first relates to process. High turnover
during disasters can drive excessive delays.
"And then you call back the next day, and
they’re gone, and you’re with somebody who is starting from
scratch," Quinn noted.
After disasters, many companies rely on vendors who compete
for third-party contracts with the insurers. Quinn said that
has potential to raise issues with some.
"And they have this check writer bias. They’re trying to
give the insurance company what they think they want which
is to suppress the amount of money lost in claims," he said.
He said that may explain how some adjusters say their damage
estimates were reduced.
"Somewhere the adjuster fills out the report, he sends it up
the line and somebody along those lines is taking that
report and removing line-items," he said.
An aerial picture taken on September 30, 2022 shows
the only access to the Matlacha neighborhood destroyed in the
aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Fort Myers, Florida.
Quinn’s second and third problems relate to
executive bonuses and what some now defunct insurance companies paid
their sister companies as they failed.