Merlin Law Group has consistently tracked Hurricane Michael claim information provided by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (FLOIR). Insurance companies reported the total number of claims for Hurricane Michael to be 149,773 with more than $7.4 billion in estimated insured losses as of October 25, 2019. For the latest reporting period, we anticipate the number of new claims filed to increase as many policyholders had hoped their insurance companies would do right by them during the initial adjustment and investigation stage of their claims. It is important to note that Florida Statutes §627.70132, allows policyholders to file a claim within three years of the hurricane’s initial landfall or when the windstorm caused the covered damage, in accordance with the terms of the policy.
Continue Reading Status of Hurricane Michael Claims: Estimated Insured Losses Exceed $7.4B

Paige St. John wrote a Pulitzer winning series on the corruption of Florida’s insurance industry and propaganda by the insurance company trade associations nearly nine years ago. I was thinking about this and one particular article, How Florida Insurers Make Millions On The Side, when the Security First CEO blamed the furious and upset policyholders for hiring attorneys to help them get their claims paid. I suppose the Security First claims department was counting on policyholders just giving up?
Continue Reading How Florida Insurers Make Millions on The Side

Hurricane Michael devastation and the similarity to other devastated areas is shockingly apparent to me. I lived in Panama City, Florida, and raced sailboats out of the St. Andrews Bay Yacht Club. Today, we represent the yacht club, longtime friends, iconic night clubs, a church, and numerous others as they try to get their lives, businesses, and community back on a road of recovery. Why can’t our leaders learn to do this better?
Continue Reading Hurricane Michael One Year Later and Keeping The Devastation in The Minds of Our Leaders

Allan Bense

Hurricane Michael policyholders who are battling their insurance companies have a somewhat surprising ally in former Speaker of the Florida House Allan Bense who was quoted in a Miami Herald article, Insurance Companies ‘Terribly Unhelpful’ With Hurricane Recovery, Former Lawmaker Says.
Continue Reading Former Republican Florida House Speaker Says Insurance Companies Beat Down Policyholders

Journalist Jennie McKeon

Reporter Jennie McKeon wrote an article (‘Blue Tarps’ Doc Shows The Aftermath of Hurricane Michael) about two filmmakers, Carrie Hunter and Austin Hermann, who recently released a significant documentary about Florida’s Panhandle following Hurricane Michael. I was struck by one quote from Carrie Hunter:

Literally every person we talked to said they felt forgotten . . . . This was one of the most powerful storms to hit and it hit some of the poorest and rural parts of Florida. Help and safety nets are not reaching everyone.


Continue Reading Hurricane Michael Victims Should Not Be Forgotten-The “Blue Tarps” Documentary Makes A Case for Florida’s Panhandle

Florida’s Insurance commissioner made the news a little over a week ago when his testimony, which you can watch above, indicated some bewilderment about why so many claims are still open a year after Hurricane Michael struck Florida’s Panhandle. Over 18,000 claims are reported as open.
Continue Reading Hurricane Michael and Irma Policyholders with Outstanding Claims Should Help Florida’s Insurance Commissioner Explaining The Mystery of Their Open Claims

The time is now to button up those flood claims. The deadline for submission of the sworn statement of a Hurricane Michael flood loss, known as the Proof of Loss (‘POL”), is 365 days from the date of loss,1 which is October 10, 2019, for those in the Panhandle of Florida. The POL is the policyholder’s sworn statement for the amount of insurance proceeds requested under the Standard Flood Insurance Policy (“SFIP”).
Continue Reading Hurricane Michael NFIP Proof of Loss Deadline Approaches

Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier

One of the strongest worded notices to insurance companies to pay promptly and do whatever it takes to help policyholders following a disaster came from Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier in a December 19, 2018 memorandum entitled Hurricane Michael Claims Response.
Continue Reading Excess and Surplus Lines Insurers Are Ignoring Florida’s Insurance Commissioner Notice To Do Whatever It Takes

“Not with Hurricane Michael claims” is the answer to these questions being screamed by policyholders, contractors and public adjusters. The blog title and questions were plucked from CJW’s website which also says most adjusters have a difficult time making accurate estimates but CJW does not because their adjusters “work ‘round the clock” to make accurate estimates:

Accuracy: how easy it is to claim (and most adjusters do). How difficult it is to fulfill.

At CJW, high accuracy and precise teamwork are a way of life. From in-depth analysis of the policy to determine the limits of coverage…to daily reviewing of exposures and minimizing the risks of over- or under-reserving. CJW’s seasoned TPA managers will work ’round the clock, if necessary, to make sure all data, files and reports are as close to the mark as is humanly possible.

But then, isn’t that just what you’d expect from masters of the craft?1
Continue Reading Are Insurance Company Adjusters Really Working Around the Clock and Making Accurate Estimates?

Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.
—Mark Twain

Closed claim file statistics reported by various departments of insurance following hurricanes seem absurd to those in the impacted areas and those working in the insurance claim business. The root of the problem is that most departments of insurance put pressure on insurance companies to close claims fast and provide high percentages of closed claims. So, insurance companies “administratively close” files to meet regulatory requirements and the politicians look good in the press reporting what everybody knows are fabricated numbers. The files then are reopened to make more payments and then closed again.
Continue Reading Closed Claim File Statistics Following Hurricanes