FORT MYERS, Fla. — In the months since Hurricane Ian battered Southwest Florida devastating parts of the coast, data from the state Office of Insurance Regulation shows nearly 40 percent of insurance claims have either been rejected or remain in limbo without payment.
The data, which was last updated more than a month ago on Jan. 20, shows a total of 683,456 claims were submitted. Of those, 87,810 are still open claims but have not received payment and 169,355 were closed without payment.
A total of 426,291 claims – or 62 percent – have been paid whether they are open or closed.
Submissions for catastrophe claims began on Sept. 30.
Those living in Lee County, the hardest hit by Ian, also have seen more than 30 percent of claims in the county denied or still without payment.
According to a report from the New York Post, even when the insurance claim is paid, it might not be enough to rebuild. The Post interviewed one Lee County family who said they were offered only $500 in compensation for their home, which was "left unlivable."
“It’s shocking what is happening here,” Fort Myers Beach Vice Mayor Jim Atterholt reportedly told the Post. “It’s been a disaster. People are on the edge. They’re desperate.”
Back in December, 10 Tampa Bay spoke with Michael Peltier, a spokesperson for Citizens Property Insurance. Known as the insurer of last resort, it's the largest home insurer in the Sunshine State.
At the time, he said many of the claims received are for minor damages.
For many Floridians who lived alongside rivers, 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."
Most denials, the Post reported, came from carriers asserting damage was caused by flooding, something not covered by homeowner's insurance. Residents refuted those assertions, telling the Post damage caused by wind, which is covered by many basic policies, was also denied under claims.