Program to Help Mediate Insurance Issues from Hurricanes

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Jeff Moore is watching crews clear what’s left of his rental house. It was crushed by a huge tree when Jeanne blew through town.

Moore says filing an insurance claim turned out to be surprisingly easy.

Jeff Moore says, “All this damage was done like on a Monday morning and we had the claim settled and everything processed by that Thursday. I believe the adjuster came out the next day.”

But many property owners haven’t been so lucky. The state Department of Financial Services is investigating more than 11,000 complaints against insurers in the wake of Florida’s four hurricanes.

Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher is creating a mediation program to act as negotiator between frustrated policy holders and their insurers.

Gallagher says, “Those people that bought a policy, it didn’t say on that policy, ‘by the way, if four hurricanes hit, we’re not going to help you,’ and so the expectations are that they’re going to be treated just the same as if there was only one hurricane and it only affected their house.”

A car was also destroyed by the giant tree that crushed Jeff Moore’s house. Insurance companies are struggling to handle more than two million separate claims.

“The industry’s never faced anything like this before.”

Sam Miller with the Florida Insurance Council welcomes the mediation program, but says customers also have to be reasonable. More than 15,000 adjusters are working around the clock trying to care for the hardest-hit property owners first.

Sam Miller says, “We absolutely are handling this as quickly as we can, but it's an unprecedented challenge for us, for the industry.”

Insurance companies will have 21 days from the time a customer requests mediation to resolve the dispute before state mediators step in.