Julie Patel of the Sun-Sentinel continues her dedicated investigative reporting series looking into insurance issues in her recent article, Expect low and slow claims payments if your insurer folds.
Patel points out that since 2006, eight property insurance companies in Florida have gone insolvent and insureds with more than 55,000 claims have been forced to deal with the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA) for their insurance claims.
We have posted about FIGA in several other posts including, When Insurance Companies Go Under – The Fallacy of FIGA and FIGA is the New Slow Paying and Litigation Threatening “Insurer” in the Florida Property Insurance Claims Game.
The Florida Insurance Guaranty Association was created by legislation in 1970 as a non-profit organization that has a duty to settle claims in accordance with the FIGA Act, the policy, and Florida insurance laws, in a timely manner.
The husband/wife team at Public Adjusters Incorporated, led by President Daniel L. Guilfoyle, III and Vice President Rosemary Guilfoyle, has extensive knowledge of the insurance industry’s ever changing landscape. Dan Guilfoyle was contacted by Julie Patel about his experience as a public adjuster handling claims that had been turned over to FIGA.
Dan mentioned to a policyholder who lost $25,000.00 after his claim was turned over to FIGA. Dan told me the story. Dan’s company was hired as the public adjuster for two separate clients. Both insureds had purchased insurance policies from Northern Capital, and both suffered covered water damage losses. Before Northern Capitol was declared insolvent, both policyholders participated in the policy’s appraisal process to determine the amount of the loss Northern Capital would pay.
Northern Capitol named its appraiser and happened to use the same appraiser on both claims. Likewise, the same umpire was appointed on the two water claims. Both policyholders received signed appraisal awards of damages owed by Northern Capital. But Northern Capital didn’t pay, and FIGA was ordered to step in because Northern Capital was insolvent.
Dan recounted what happened next but said it was unexplainable… FIGA paid one award in full (minus the FIGA deductible), but FIGA determined that the $69,000.00 award for the other insured was not going to be honored. FIGA required that loss be adjusted from scratch by a FIGA adjuster. This policyholder was first delayed by FIGA’s rejection of payment on the signed appraisal award and then further delayed as FIGA began its own evaluation of the damages. FIGA then determined the damages for the loss only totaled some $24,000.00. Dan said that explaining FIGA’s response and actions to his 80-year-old client was beyond difficult. To make matters worse, the policyholder had listed his home for sale and a pending sale fell through because of the water damage claim that had not been resolved. Dan and the team at Public Adjusters Inc. were able to increase the claim amount further, but FIGA ultimately paid $25,000.00 less than the original appraisal award signed on the claim.
Julie Patel interviewed the former vice-president of Northern Capital. He did not understand why FIGA started over on many of the claims. “It wasn’t particularly cost-effective for them to start over, especially [because the contractors estimating damage for Northern Capital] in many cases charged significantly less than the FIGA” estimators said Alex Blain-Cruz.
Florida policyholders who are dealing with insurance claims with an insurance company on the brink of insolvency or in court-ordered receivership may have all the more reason to hire a professional public insurance adjuster. The delay of the claim process, potential new claim deadlines, and claims adjustment red-tape require the dedication, determination, and experience that many public adjusters can provide.
Here is a link to the Florida Department of Financial Services that shows the Florida insurance companies that are officially in financial trouble.