The U.S. territory is wrapped in accusations of fraud and lawsuits against home insurers.
Cities and homeowners alike are facing widespread unpaid insurance claims following several disasters to strike Puerto Rico.
Some claim they’re receiving unfair low payments while others have watched insurers shut down.
Fraud accusations and lawsuits are taking flight in every direction as many face unpaid insurance claims following the earthquakes, hurricanes and other disasters.
Puerto Rico has been struggling with one catastrophe after the next. The island has been struck by hundreds of earthquakes over a span of weeks. That said, their primary alert sirens have yet to be repaired since Hurricane Maria devastated the American territory in 2017. As insurers have yet to pay many of the claims reaching back to that storm, cities don’t have the funds they need to install new emergency alarms. As a result, each new earthquake is accompanied by the sound of whistles throughout the cities, in the hopes of alerting as many residents as possible.
“I’ve seen people in town with a whistle hanging around their necks,” said former Aguadilla mayor of 25 years, Carlos Méndez Martínez.
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Over two years after Hurricane Maria crashed through, unpaid insurance claims total $1.6 billion.
The majority of the claims comprising the $1.6 billion total have to do with the largest ones filed by condominium associations and cities. As a result, Puerto Rico has yet to rebuild the majority of its damaged hospitals, emergency facilities, convention centers, government properties, stadiums and basketball courts. They await payments from private insurers that have not come through.
Hurricane Maria used the most unfortunate means to place the spotlight onto the island’s disaster recovery process deficiencies, comprised primarily of underfunded private insurance companies which can operate under few regulations, reported the New York Times.
Though the federal government has taken the brunt of the criticism over the lack of prompt disaster relief, there is another player that has failed Puerto Ricans following Hurricane Maria and the earthquakes continuing to shake the island: private insurers that have left unpaid insurance claims despite their “contractual responsibility to help clients who had paid premiums, many of them for years,” said the report.