Some Florida homeowners who have received partial insurance payments in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael may be owed more money by insurers. To actually get these funds, however, they may have to reopen their claims. While the overall estimated losses are $5.6 billion, many of those claims might be reopened and the cost could go much higher.

Most of the 145,685 claims reported were from Bay County. The office of insurance regulation reported on Feb. 15 that more than three-fourths of all claims were closed. Within 90 days of getting a claim, insurers are required by state law to issue at least a partial payment. They may close the claim so they can move on, but when the insurer gets more accurate estimates of what repairs will cost, the claims can be reopened.

However, there are several complications that might arise as a result of this. Homeowners who are only given partial payments are often unable to pay contractors enough to do needed repairs. Furthermore, some people do not realize that they can reopen claims. The Florida Insurance Commissioner said his office wanted to create a system that better tracks claims that are likely to be reopened in order to get a more accurate assessment of damage.

A Florida resident who needs to file a homeowners insurance claim after any kind of storm damage might want to contact an attorney. The lawyer could assist in filing the claim and communicating with the insurance company. If the insurance company offers too little compensation, denies a claim or delays payment, the attorney may be able to negotiate a resolution. If necessary, legal counsel could help the client take legal action against the insurance company.

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