The good news for most Florida homeowners with property that was damaged as a result of Hurricane Irma is that more than 90 percent of claims related to this devastating storm have been closed. However, the industry funded Insurance Information Institute reports that there are still thousands of Floridians wrangling with their insurance providers over filed claims related to Irma. One woman with a damaged roof, for instance, had to wait for more than a year to receive a satisfactory claim payment after initially receiving a lower payment that didn't fully cover the repair expenses.

A representative from the Insurance Information Institute notes that more than $11 billion in homeowners' insurance claims related to Irma have already been paid out. As for the reasons for some of the lingering claim issues, one theory is that there may be out-of-state adjusters who aren't familiar with local construction costs in the areas of Florida affected by the 2017 storm. It's estimated that as many as 80,000 homeowners in The Sunshine State have lingering storm-related insurance issues.

It's generally advised that frustrated homeowners first go through an insurance company's internal appeals process. Most reputable insurance providers will attempt to resolve claim issues in an order to retain their customers. Possible issues with insurance companies may involve lower-than-expected claims payments, unreasonable delays handling claims or making decisions about payments and, in some cases, cancellation of policies. The Florida Division of Financial Services can make an attempt to open communication with insurance providers. Legally, insurance companies have 20 days to respond to a filed complaint.

Another option for dealing with underpayment of claims and similar problems with insurance companies is to turn to an attorney. A lawyer may also be able to help an affected storm survivor with property damage gather necessary evidence and prepare for any hearings or court dates related to claims issues. In some situations, it may be possible to pursue legal action if an insurance company acted in "bad faith," meaning they failed to defend, indemnify, properly investigate or acceptably settle a claim within stated policy limits.

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