Independent licensed professionals are providing evidence of fraud among certain insurers.
Independent licensed insurance adjustors in Florida have been providing state regulators with evidence of alleged fraud relating to payouts made following Hurricane Ian.
Hurricane Ian was the third most costly storm in the United States and the most expensive ever for Florida.
The storm caused about $109 billion in damage in Florida. Field insurance adjustors are providing evidence to state regulators of allegedly fraudulent conduct by insurers which would affect thousands of homeowners in central and south Florida.
Some insurers have allegedly underpaid the majority of property owners – mostly homeowners – who submitted claims for damage from Hurricane Ian. A recent WESH report indicated that the amount policyholders were allegedly underpaid could reach $25 billion or more of what had been an estimated $67 billion in insured losses from the storm.
The insurance adjustors have been submitting documents that support this accusation.
Following the damage from Hurricane Ian in central Florida, 708,255 claims were filed state-wide, according to a Florida Department of Financial Services report published on March 9. Of those, nearly 179,998 claims were closed without payment, said the news report.
“They (the insurance carrier) reduced the estimate to defraud the homeowner,” said independent insurance adjustor Ben Mandell who is licensed in 11 states. Mandell provides insurers with estimates following major natural disasters.
When Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis called a special legislative session in December 2022 to address the rising premiums crisis in the state and the rash of insurers going insolvent, Mandell, Jordan Lee and Mark Vinson, two other adjustors, accused insurers of having manipulated the damage estimates that they were submitting, resulting in underpayments allegedly being sent to homeowners.
The insurance adjustors provided their own documents including estimates and photographs and the figures that were actually paid out to policyholders. Some examples included discrepancies in the tens of thousands, such as an estimate for a roof of $40,468.54 for which the policyholder was paid $2,524.62, said the news report.
“We believe that the insurance companies are underpaying Florida homeowners by $25 billion. They need to get these folks (insurance company executives) in handcuffs and let’s get this stopped,” said Mandell.