SPECIAL REPORT: Hurricane Headache

Special Reports

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB)- We’re almost at the 11-month mark since Hurricane Michael struck the Panhandle and it seems to be the same story still after all this time. 

Residents who were impacted by the storm are having trouble resolving their insurance claims and rebuilding their lives to the way it was before. What you would think is a simple process of filing a claim, getting your money, and rebuilding, is actually far from that. 

“Hurricane Michael, we’re not even a year out of its event and still, every single day, it’s a plague that we all have to deal with but we’re all in this together,” said Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, Jimmy Patronis.

So far, insurance companies have resolved a little more than 450 insurance claims but there is no telling how many claims are still unresolved. Local attorney, Larry Perry, contributes a portion of the slow response to the caseload being taken on by public adjusters.

“In the initial public adjuster reports that I have seen, they’ve just taken on way too many cases than they could physically work on,” said Perry.

Chief Financial Officer, Jimmy Patronis, oversees the state’s accounting and auditing functions as well as insurance consumer services and insurance fraud investigations. As a Bay County resident himself, he feels for the Panhandle and has hosted a number of insurance villages open to the public. 

“This can be overwhelming. Let us help you deal with your insurance carrier and look, the insurance carrier, they want to close the claims too,” said Patronis.

Through the most recent insurance village held at Gulf Coast State College, 413 policyholders came through the two-day event and $2.4 million dollars worth of checks were written and distributed.

However, others aren’t as fortunate and are still waiting for financial relief.

“The people who are here are taxed. They’re spread thin, a lot of them have great intentions but it’s a matter of the follow-through and making sure they can get items done and when they don’t, another headache occurs,” said Perry.

Filing a claim can be complicated and you have to look closely at your policy to ensure you’re filing on time and meeting all requirements and deadlines.

“There is a one-year statute of limitations on your flood insurance claims. That means if you have not filed your lawsuit against your flood insurance carrier on or before October 9th, 2019… then you’re waiving that,” said Perry. 

For those currently displaced, it’s important to look into how your coverage is working while you’re staying in a temporary residence. 

“If you’re in a temporary house, or you’re living temporarily, your home owner’s insurance will cover that, but if you’ve moved permanently from your home, you need to make sure you have good rental coverage which covers your personal contents and your additional living expenses in the event that you get displaced from that,” said Perry.

If you’re still struggling with a claim, you should consider seeking out legal representation to take a closer look at your policy. Then, legal representation should advise you of your rights and make sure everything has been handled properly thus far.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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