Florida insurance chief details Dorian, Michael claims

Nearly $10 million in property-insurance claims have been filed for Hurricane Dorian, which skirted Florida’s East Coast this month.

Meanwhile, state Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier said insurance companies continue to face pressure to close thousands of claims still open after Hurricane Michael last October.

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“We are certainly hearing a high level of frustration with that from others,” Altmaier told the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee on Tuesday.

Estimated insured losses from Hurricane Michael top $6.9 billion. The Category 5 storm made landfall Oct. 10 in Mexico Beach and caused massive damage as it roared north into Georgia. As of July 26, the state reported that 148,347 claims had been filed from Michael. Altmaier said 18,211 claims remain open and that insurance companies made initial payments in just over half of those claims before applications were reopened.

Nearly 3,600 open claims are tied to assignment of benefits, a practice in which property owners in need of repairs sign over benefits to contractors, who ultimately pursue payments from insurance companies.

Lawmakers this year revamped assignment of benefits after insurers complained about fraud and litigation in property-insurance claims, though the complaints primarily centered on claims for water damage such as busted pipes --- not hurricane claims.

Another 503 Michael claims seek money for wind and flood damages. That has delayed some settlements because the cause of damage --- wind or water --- has yet to be determined, Altmaier said.

As for the approximately 22,000 claims that have been made following Dorian, Altmaier said damages at many properties are expected to be below the policyholders’ deductibles.