The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation recently released updated data from Hurricane Irma.1 A quick review of the data paints an interesting picture. While we all know that Irma did substantial damage in Florida, the sheer size of the numbers is still daunting. Almost one million claims have been reported (997,237) totaling over $10,000,000,000.00 in estimated damage. These are the numbers self-reported from insurers.
Insurers that compiled data also claim they have closed 91.7% of claims. A number at first glance which looks impressive and efficient. I have listened to multiple presentations from lawyers that defend insurance companies, quoting similar statistics for what a great job insurance companies are doing. Maybe even worse, these numbers are often quoted by legislators and lobbyists to justify new laws to limit policyholder rights to file a lawsuit to hold their insurer accountable. Meanwhile that means over 80,000 claims are still open, approximately one year after the storm with many property owners still affected. I want to set that aside and take a look at the 91.7% of claims closed because I think this is highly misleading.
Of the closed claims reported 311,550 have been closed and not paid. So, if we do the math 31.2% of filed claims have been closed and not paid. Almost one out of three claims from Irma in Florida. I will step out on a limb and say that at least a portion of those claimants are not impressed with the efficiency of their insurers and the way they closed the claims quickly. Not to mention the fact these claims are “closed” according to the insurers reporting the data. What does this really mean? If a home or business owner files a claim and the insurance company simply refuses to pay it (no matter what the reasoning—proper or not) does the insurance company get to report the claim as closed?
I leave you with the following quote attributed to Benjamin Disraeli: There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.