I recently had the opportunity to work with FOX 13 News Chief Investigator/Political Editor Craig Patrick on a story he was doing on the homeowners insurance crisis here in Florida. I was admittedly guarded when first approached about an interview with my clients, Chrissy and Stephen Spaziani. I’d recently been retained by Chrissy and Stephen to assist them with their fight against TypTap Insurance Company. Like any policyholder advocate worth their salt, I took the time to do my homework on Craig before agreeing to my clients’ participation. I reached out to Doug Quinn of the American Policyholder Association, and Doug reassured me that Craig would produce a fair and factual expose for his audience.

I met Craig at my clients’ property on a sweltering southwest Florida morning. Upon entering the residence, we were greeted by Chrissy and Stephen, with a host of wonderful snacks and beverages. I must say, the Spaziani’s know how to treat their guests. Their hospitality is more than remarkable, considering that their home is still in shambles as a result of damage sustained from Hurricane Ian. Craig‘s cameraman (also named Craig, by the way) did an exceptional job of capturing the damage, but I can tell you firsthand the videos and pictures do not do the damage justice.

Chrissy and Stephen’s story is, unfortunately, all too common in this day in age. They filed their claim immediately after Hurricane Ian passed. Chrissy tells the story of driving miles from her home, across a bridge, to where she was able to get cell phone service so that she could notify her homeowner’s insurance company of the damage. A month passed after the insurance company’s adjuster inspected the property with no updates for the Spaziani’s. When Chrissy called to get an update from TypTap, she was told by a representative that “people like her were the reason why insurance companies were going out of business here in Florida and that she was committing insurance fraud” (I plan to write more about this aspect of the claim at a later date.)

Ultimately, their home was damaged by Hurricane Ian to the tune of over $200,000.00. To date, their insurance company has only paid them approximately $60,000. To add insult to injury, my clients’ mortgage company is holding the settlement checks until the work is completed. So far, nearly 11 months after Hurricane Ian made landfall, my clients’ have been unable to find a general contractor willing to take on the project because the amount of $60,000 is not nearly enough money to complete the repairs. After exhausting all other avenues of resolution, Chrissy and Stephen have decided to file a lawsuit against TypTap for Breach of Contract. 

Thank goodness that reporters like Craig Patrick exist. While this may be a story about one family, it is a story that is far too similar to other policyholders. In a time where media is often influenced by advertising dollars, Craig Patrick demonstrated that there are still fair and accurate reporters in the media who work with news organizations driven by principles and the desire to report the truth.

Journalists play an important role in society when it comes to exposing bad actors who are systematically harming people. Reporters like Craig Patrick and Brianna Sacks, who we noted in The Washington Post Continues to Expose Florida’s Failed Insurance Regulation, play important roles in showing stories to our elected officials about why we need stronger laws protecting policyholders and holding wrongful-acting insurance companies accountable. The law should not tolerate this type of treatment.  

United Policyholders and the American Policyholder Association also play an important role. Their mission is to advocate for policyholder interests and expose wrongful insurance company behavior. Merlin Law Group supports these groups because they stand up for our policyholder clients. They take the stories portrayed in the media directly to elected officials and policymakers at the departments of insurance.       

Thought For The Day

Journalism is what we need to make democracy work.

 —Walter Cronkite