Many people still waiting for Irma storm insurance claims to be processed

Posted at 6:19 PM, Oct 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-18 10:03:40-04

More than a month after Hurricane Irma came through Florida, many people are still waiting for insurance claims to be processed.

There have been 626,541 claims filed for residential property, but 441,359 claims are still open as of October 13, according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.

People like Jacquelyn Young are frustrated. Hurricane Irma ripped a whole in her roof. She said she is waiting for her insurance company to process the claim.

"The rain is actually going through the house," Young said.

FEMA denied her application for assistance because she told them she had homeowners insurance, Young said.

"So what are we supposed to do?" Young asked. 'We can't get help from this end, and we can't get help from this end, so we're stuck."

In total, the state of Florida believes there are nearly $5 billion in total estimated insurance losses.

ABC Action  News went to Florida's Department of Financial Services’ Division of Consumer Services, the agency that operates the Insurance Consumer Helpline, to see what families can do to process their insurance claim faster.

Consumers who need assistance on getting updates from their insurance companies are urged to reach out to our insurance consumer helpline by calling 1-877-693-5236 (1-877-MY FL CFO).

To date, the Department’s Division of Consumer Services has received 2,756 insurance-related calls due to Hurricane Irma, the state said.

The average hold time is 37 seconds. These calls range from requests for assistance with:

  • Company contact information
  • Claims-filing process
  • Coverage Questions – What is Covered, What’s Not
  • Financial Options to Assist with Non-Insured Damage/Hurricane Deductible

When a consumer reaches out to specialists with the Department’s Division of Consumer Services, they will talk with the consumer’s insurance company, on behalf of the consumer, to clear up any questions or concerns the consumer may have had.

The insurance company is required, by statute, to respond to any inquiries that come from the Department within 20 days and more times than not, the cases we bring to the insurance company are closed within 30 days of initiation, the state said.

“Hurricane Irma impacted various parts of our state from Jacksonville down to the Florida Keys. With more than 700,000 claims accounting for a total estimated insured loss of approximately $5 billion, insurance companies have been presented with an influx of consumers who are in need of assistance,” said CFO Jimmy Patronis.

“We strongly encourage any consumers who have any insurance-related questions, complaints or concerns to reach out to the Department’s Insurance Consumer Helpline by calling 1-877-693-5236 so our insurance specialists can provide them with the information and resources needed to ensure their road to recovery isn’t delayed," Patronis said.

But there are many people who need assistance now.

The American Red Cross is going county by county in some of Florida's hardest hit areas.

They were at the Lakeshore Mall in Sebring, FL assessing the needs of hundreds of families.

"What do you need to be able to make that next step? So in addition to financial assistance, we also have access to community resources," said Roberto Baltodano, Red Cross spokesperson.

Many Highlands County residents were able to leave with a pre-paid debit card to be used for essentials, including diapers, food, lodging and clothes that needed to be replaced after the storm.

The Red Cross will also help people who are not able to get immediate aid through FEMA and have homeowners insurance.

People can also get Red Cross help in addition to FEMA help, Baltodano said.