World

Florida residents face denials of insurance claims after floods

Many homeowners found out the hard way during Hurricane Ian that their home insurance policies do not cover flood damage. Business administration loan to repair their homes. WESH 2’s Sheldon Dutes analyzed past hurricane claims data and found out what determines payout and why experts say you should consider a separate flood insurance policy. “You can tell part of my life is stuck here at the curb,” said John Miller, whose home in Ian was flooded. WESH 2 catches up with Miller before Hurricane Nicole “It feels like my life is over. It’s over. It’s over. gone,” Miller said. He was still recovering from the damage Ian had done to his home in Seminole County. “The water came in through the house, through the garage door, through the back door,” Miller said. After all that water went down, it left mold and mildew all over the house. “You can see mold growing on this Sheetrock panel. It’s not just black. It’s also green,” Miller said. “The tile is starting to lift. It smells extremely musty,” Miller said. Miller filed a claim with his insurance company only to discover that they would not cover it because an inspector determined it to be flood damage, which confused Miller. “I performed an elevation survey on my home, proving it was far enough above the baseline flood elevation. So it wasn’t a requirement from FEMA or my insurance company,” Miller said. This began the long, tedious process of filing a claim with FEMA and trying to get an SBA loan to cover cleanup and rebuild costs. “I felt kind of betrayed. I’m paying insurance to cover disasters. That’s why you have hurricane insurance. And for them to say no, sorry, you’re out of luck,” Miller said. Ian and Nicole were wake-up calls for so many Central Florida residents who realized their insurance policies would not cover flood damage. FEMA offers flood insurance, but based on census population data and WESH 2 information obtained from FEMA, only 2% of homes in Central Florida have flood insurance. Keep in mind that the percentage does not include the number of people who can get flood insurance with one of the approximately 40 private flood insurers operating in Florida. “What I’ve communicated to consumers is the importance of purchasing flood insurance, regardless of whether you live in a designated flood zone, because honestly, anywhere it rains can flood,” said Tasha Carter. Carter is an insurance attorney from Florida. “Getting home insurance these days is very challenging. There are insurers that aren’t even writing policies in the Orlando area. They’ve completely given up or are canceling or laying people off,” Dutes said. “Are we going to run into the same hurdle when it comes to flood insurance?” “We really haven’t seen any specific data or trends, you know, that indicate that trying to buy flood insurance might result in a similar experience for homeowners as their effort to buy home insurance,” Carter said. WESH 2 Investigates also analyzed the Office of Insurance Regulation homeowners insurance claims data for hurricanes Irma and Michael. Thirty-one percent of claims in Irma and 14% of claims in Michael were closed without payment. went to previous storms. “Claims are not denied because of your insurer’s financial condition. They are denied because they don’t meet the criteria for loss,” said Mark Friedlander of the Insurance Information Institute. Friedlander is a spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute and says homeowners with covered claims will still be paid. Meanwhile, Miller still plans fix your house as best you can.” Try to see if there’s anything else I can do to prevent flooding in my house. At this point, I still don’t know,” Miller said. “Are you going to get a flood insurance policy even if you’re not technically on a floodplain?” Dutes asked. “That’s a good question. I would have to weigh that. I definitely have to maintain homeowners insurance, but if none of them are going to pay, why bother taking out flood insurance?” Miller said. As we all prepare for the upcoming hurricane season, remember that filing a Claiming is a lengthy process with many steps. If a storm damages your home, experts say to immediately file a claim with your insurance company to start the process. They also suggest taking photos and videos of the damage to help.

Many homeowners found out the hard way during Hurricane Ian that their home insurance policies do not cover flood damage.

Because of this, they are in the middle of the long and tedious process of getting help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency or a loan from the Small Business Administration to fix their homes.

WESH 2’s Sheldon Dutes analyzed past hurricane claims data and found out what determines payout and why experts say you should consider a separate flood insurance policy.

“You could say part of my life is sitting here on the curb,” said John Miller, whose home flooded in Ian.

WESH 2 caught up with Miller before Hurricane Nicole

“It feels like my life is over. It’s over. It’s been terminated,” Miller said.

He was still recovering from the damage Ian had done to his home in Seminole County.

“The water came in through the house, through the garage door, through the back door,” Miller said.

After all that water went down, it left mold and mildew all over the house.

“You can see mold growing on this Sheetrock panel. It’s not just black. It’s also green,” Miller said.

“The tile is starting to lift. It smells extremely musty,” Miller said.

Miller filed a claim with his insurance company only to discover that they would not cover it because an inspector determined it to be flood damage, which confused Miller.

“I performed an elevation survey on my home, proving it was far enough above the baseline flood elevation. So it wasn’t a requirement from FEMA or my insurance company,” Miller said.

This began the long, tedious process of filing a claim with FEMA and trying to get an SBA loan to cover cleanup and rebuild costs.

“I felt kind of betrayed. I’m paying insurance to cover disasters. That’s why you have hurricane insurance. And for them to say no, sorry, you’re out of luck,” Miller said.

Ian and Nicole were wake-up calls for so many Central Florida residents who realized their insurance policies would not cover flood damage.

FEMA offers flood insurance, but based on census population data and WESH 2 information obtained from FEMA, only 2% of homes in Central Florida have flood insurance.

Keep in mind that the percentage does not include the number of people who can get flood insurance with one of the approximately 40 private flood insurers operating in Florida.

“What I’ve communicated to consumers is the importance of purchasing flood insurance, regardless of whether you live in a designated flood zone, because honestly, anywhere it rains can flood,” said Tasha Carter.

Carter is an insurance attorney from Florida.

“Getting home insurance these days is very challenging. There are insurers that aren’t even writing policies in the Orlando area. They’ve completely given up or are canceling or laying people off,” Dutes said. “Are we going to run into the same hurdle when it comes to flood insurance?”

“I’m not sure we’ll encounter a similar hurdle,” Carter said.

“We really haven’t seen any specific data or trends, you know, that indicate that trying to buy flood insurance might result in a similar experience for homeowners as their effort to buy home insurance,” Carter said.

WESH 2 Investigates also analyzed the Office of Insurance Regulation homeowners insurance claims data for hurricanes Irma and Michael.

Thirty-one percent of the claims in Irma and 14% of the claims in Michael were closed without payment.

Time will tell how Florida homeowners fare after Ian and Nicole, but policyholders are filing their claims when the insurance market is less stable than in previous storms.

“Claims are not denied because of your insurer’s financial condition. They are denied because they don’t meet the forfeiture criteria,” said Mark Friedlander of the Insurance Information Institute.

Friedlander is a spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute and says homeowners with covered claims will still be paid.

In the meantime, Miller still plans to fix his house as best he can.

“Try to see if there’s anything else I can do to prevent flooding in my house. At this point, I don’t know yet,” Miller said.

“Are you going to get a flood insurance policy even though you’re not technically on a floodplain?” Dutes asked.

“That’s a good question. I would have to weigh that. I definitely have to keep home insurance, but if none of them are going to pay, why bother getting flood insurance?” Miller said.

As we prepare for the upcoming hurricane season, remember that filing a claim is a very time-consuming process with many steps.

If a storm damages your home, experts say to immediately file a claim with your insurance company to start the process.

They also suggest taking photos and videos of the damage to help.