Hundreds of Southwest Florida home insurance claims outstanding for nine months have been paid in just the last several days.
The State of Florida has been acting as a mediator to help people get paid after three days of meetings with insurance companies.
Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis held three separate insurance villages this week in Lee and Charlotte counties. He reported that more than $4 million in claims have been paid over the last three days alone.
“Without this, God only knows where or what kind of a condition we’d be in right now as far as getting our claim paid correctly,” said Kevin Moran of Punta Gorda.
He and his wife Cindy were among the hundreds who walked away happy after their insurance company finally agreed to pay up.
“After four adjusters for the same insurance company, I finally got somebody to work with us and help us along the way and get things corrected,” Cindy said.
Benjamin Gutierrez is a public adjuster and blamed adjusters who work for the insurance companies as part of the problem of why so many people haven’t been paid in a timely manner.
“Definitely, they’re not writing everything in favor of the homeowner because they are employed by the carrier. They’re always going to favor them,” Gutierrez said.
Marylee Ruelle of Punta Gorda Isles agreed and said she and her husband are on their third desk adjuster.
Thursday, they got the news that their check is in the mail but said they would believe it when they see it.
Michael Hamm-Barnett is a catastrophe operations manager for Citizens Insurance. He is one of those able to hand out checks to policyholders.
“It’s a really great feeling actually when you can get them a check today,” Hamm-Barnett said.
Citizens Insurance was one of many companies that were handing out dozens of checks on-site.
“We’ve been able to give some living expense checks to people who needed more money to tie them over while their house is being repaired,” said Michael Peltier with Citizens Insurance.
Patronis said that anyone who couldn’t attend the recent insurance villages could call his office at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO to have their claim handled by phone.
“In just the last two days we’ve had over 600 policyholders. They’ve been paid out over $4 million in hand walking out the door,” Patronis stated.
Patronis said a total of 700,000 claims have been filed statewide since Hurricane Ian hit and he predicted more insurance villages would be needed in order to get more claims paid.