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Citizens Property Insurance: 78% of Hurricane Ian claims closed

It's been more than two months since Hurricane Ian devastated communities across Southwest Florida.

FLORIDA, USA — Hurricane Ian made landfall in Cayo Costa, Florida on Sept. 28 as a category 4 hurricane. In the months since Ian, tens of thousands of insurance claims have been filed. 

More than 1 million Florida homeowners use Citizens Property Insurance. Known as the insurer of last resort, it's the largest home insurer in the Sunshine State. 

"As of a couple of hours ago, we are just over 58,000 claims that we've received from Hurricane Ian," Michael Peltier, a spokesperson for Citizens said.

Citizens estimates the cost of Hurricane Ian-related claims to be in the ballpark of $2.3-$2.6 billion dollars. Peltier said about 78 percent of the claims already filed have been closed at least once.

"You know, viewers may not know that, it's like it's not uncommon for as you go through the claims process that your claims will be, there'll be an initial closing," Peltier said. "And then as you begin repairs, you may find other repairs that need to be done or something comes along. So that claim is reopened. And a single claim may be closed and reopened a few times in the process."

Many of the claims received are for minor damages.

"Most of the claims we received, about maybe two-thirds are relatively low severity," Peltier said. "We're talking about, you know, some shingles missing, but the main part of the roof is still intact, you know, tiles are gone, broken glass in some situations, but relatively minor damage, as opposed to a complete, what we would call our highest level of severity, which just means you're just seeing a slab on the ground where the house used to be."

For many Floridians who lived alongside rivers, Hurricane Ian was a devastating way to learn about how badly a river floods following a storm. Peltier said one of the common claims denied is for flooding. 

"It's no secret that citizens and other property insurers, in general, do not cover flood damage," Peltier said. "Water that rises from the ground up, is something that is generally handled through the federal flood insurance program. The majority of our denials on claims has been, you know, that damage was caused by flood and not by wind."

Peltier said the biggest slowdown in getting claims processed and closed was the initial extent of damage, making it impossible for assessors to get to the damage. For some seasonal residents of Florida, assessments still haven't been made. 

"And we still expect that when it's all said and done, we will receive about 100,000 claims from all this," Peltier said.

If you're still waiting to hear back about a home insurance claim, Peltier recommends starting with your local home insurance agent. Citizens also has a customer care center to help. 

"Keep receipts, take photos, have that sort of background information for your insurer," Peltier said. "As you've worked with the process, claims will be adjusted and readjusted as needed."

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