Record-Breaking Hurricane Season Could Mean Change for Insurance Industry

More than 700 calls came in just this past week.

Many are from people who say their adjuster either hasn’t shown up yet or is taking too long.

The state’s Chief Financial Officer is running out of patience. It’s been nearly three weeks since the last of four hurricanes tore through Florida, and some people are still waiting to hear from their insurance companies. CFO Tom Gallagher says it’s time to get tough.

“Make sure these people are visited and begin the claims process. That’s the urgency right now,” Gallagher says.

Gallagher wants an emergency rule that would set a 30-day deadline for companies to act once they get the claim. Florida Insurance Council spokesman Sam Miller says more than two million claims are expected before it’s all over, but adjusters will do their best.

“We don’t need to physically contact each and every policy holder. If they allow us some flexibility there to do it over the phone or do it through a contractor’s estimate, we can meet the deadline. We’ll certainly try to meet it,”

Insurance companies are barred from canceling or non-renewing policies until hurricane season ends Nov. 30. Although state officials don’t expect a flood of cancellations in December, rate hikes are also a concern. Jeb Bush says it’s too soon to know.

"Whether or not there will be a rate increase will depend on good actuarial projections on what the world looks like going forward,” Bush says.

State legislators will be tackling several insurance issues during the expected special session in December. The problem of multiple deductibles is likely to be one of the hot topics.

Tom Gallagher is pledging to take up the deductible dilemma, but he says the priority right now is just getting claims processed.

Gallagher says he will bring up the proposed emergency rule requiring speedier response from adjusters at Tuesday’s meeting of the governor and cabinet.