Hurri-claims Remain an Issue

It turns out the five insurance companies who got the most complaints for service had one thing in common. Universal Property and Casualty, Vanguard, Capital Preferred, First Protective and Citizens just weren’t prepared to handle the onslaught of claims that poured in after four hurricanes slammed the state.

Florida Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher says such seemingly simple solutions as having updated computer systems and enough phone lines and employees would have made a big difference.

Gallagher wants the state to start requiring any insurance company that starts doing business in Florida to prove they’re prepared for a worst-case scenario.

Tom says, "What we do every time we have one of these catastrophes, just like with Hurricane Andrew, is we learn. Every time something happens we learn and have an answer for it, and the answer is we’re not going to let someone operate in Florida unless they are prepared to handle these storms so this doesn’t happen again.”

Six months after the storms, the chief financial officer says as many as 125,000 claims may still be unresolved, but that’s out of nearly two million claims. The vast majority of hurricane claims have been paid.

Florida Insurance Council spokesman Sam Miller says the remaining 10 percent or so are the more complicated cases.

Sam says, "If there’s an unsettled claim right now it’s not because we haven’t been out there, it’s because of a dispute. The case may have to go to mediation. It may have to go to court.

The good news is all of the insurance companies in question have the money to pay outstanding claims and have promised to resolve them.

Gallagher intends to give them until mid-April to make it happen. Gallagher will propose an emergency rule at the Cabinet meeting next week to give insurance companies 30 days to resolve all outstanding claims.