Regulator urges resolving Michael claims

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter surveys the damage wrought by Hurricane Michael over Mexico Beach, Florida. October 11, 2018. Photo by James E. Wyatt.

With more than 21,000 insurance claims still outstanding from Hurricane Michael in Northwest Florida, the state insurance commissioner is pressing companies to work with property owners to close claims.

Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier called it a “discouraging statistic” that about 15 percent of the 147,877 claims from the storm remained active.

“From a regulatory standpoint, we’ve made it clear to the industry that we will look very unfavorably on any insurance company who appears to be dragging their feet, so to speak, in their efforts to close these claims,” Altmaier told Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Cabinet on Thursday. “I know the industry is aware their reputation is at stake here.”

Altmaier acknowledged that many of the still-active claims were not filed in the months immediately after the storm. Also, Altmaier said a number of the outstanding claims are “more troublesome.”

As of June 28 numbers, the latest posted on the Office of Insurance Regulation website, 106,127 claims had been paid while another 20,081 had been closed without payment.

Estimated insured losses from Michael topped $6.65 billion. The Category 5 Hurricane Michael made landfall Oct. 10 in Mexico Beach and caused massive damage as it roared north into Georgia.