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.
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1 https://www.floir.com/Office/HurricaneSeason/HurricaneIrmaClaimsData.aspx

  • David Thompson, CPCU

    What percent of the property claims files were closed because damage was below the percentage hurricane deductible? “I will step out on a limb” and say a significant number were.

    How many claims were denied because the insurer “just didn’t pay” and did not cite a reason? In 32+ years in the industry I don’t ever recall an insurer saying, “We aren’t paying your claim and we won’t give you a reason why.”

  • Bill Wilson

    Another quote is “Torture numbers and they’ll confess to anything.” We have to also consider that many claims were not paid because they were either not covered or were less than the deductible. This is very common for flood claims where no flood coverage was purchased and for deductibles that are a percentage of the value of the property. No one likes it when a claim is not covered or inadequately covered but sometimes we get what we pay for and the fact that a claim is denied doesn’t mean that anyone is “lying” or being unfair. The insurance contract governs.

  • rogerpoe

    Are 91+ percent of Hurricane Irma claims truly and honestly “closed” by Florida Insurers?

    Consider the following:

    1. Tile roofs wind uplift and factory finish damage being ignored.

    2. Shingle roofs protective granular component damage being ignored.

    3. Base building code requirements being ignored.

    4. Electrical surge to ac units, electrical panels, and appliances damages being ignored.

    5. Wind loads effects to attic AC duct and insulation work damages being ignored.

    6. Exterior finishes damages being ignored.

    7. Structural movement damages being ignored.

    8. Wind induced (storm water interior damages) being ignored.

    9. Loss of use damages being ignored.

    10. Misleading reports by engineers being utilized.

    11. And etc. “If not for Hurricane Irma” damages being ignored, All add up to how so-called “closed claims” are deceptively or not legitimately “closed”..by any means.