Hurricane Michael caused widespread damage throughout the Florida Panhandle in the fall of 2018, so it's no surprise that thousands of insurance claims were filed. However, Florida's Insurance Commissioner is urging insurers in The Sunshine State to close undisputed claims more efficiently. In a memorandum, he reminded property and casualty insurers of a Florida statute that requires them to pay undisputed claims or partial full benefits within 90 days of the date they were first notified of those claims.

The memorandum from the commissioner also states the need for companies handling business and homeowners' insurance claims related to the storm to have sufficient resources in place to facilitate the claims process. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation estimates that insured losses from the storm passed the $4 billion mark by December of 2018. Nearly 70 percent of all claims for both residential and commercial properties and lines of business related to the Category 5 hurricane have been closed.

The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Florida has also urged insurance companies to keep their "promise and obligation" to promptly pay undisputed claims to homeowners and business owners affected by the storm. By the end of November 2018, Florida's Department of Financial Services (DFS) had received nearly a thousand calls related to Hurricane Michael insurance issues. Nearly 25 percent of those calls were regarding claim delays. More than a hundred of these DFS calls turned into complaints. During the same period with Hurricane Irma, calls and complaints were higher. However, Irma affected the entire state.

The first step most claimants take when having issues such as waiting excessively long periods for an adjuster to assess their damage is to file a complaint with DFS. An attorney may become involved if problems with underpayment of claims or unfair cancellation of policies affect property owners filing legitimate claims. Even after hiring a lawyer, claimants may continue communications with their insurer, a step that's sometimes encouraged. However, if an insurer digs its heels in and fights a challenge to a claim, it's often recommended that claimants allow a lawyer to handle negotiation attempts.

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