Hurricane Irma property damage nears $8 billion across Florida

By John Hielscher.

Claims for damage caused by Hurricane Irma in Florida have grown to nearly $8 billion.

More than 900,200 property owners have filed claims for insured losses from Irma, which slammed Florida five months ago, according to a new report from the state Office of Insurance Regulation.

Those include 26,595 owners of residential and commercial properties in Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties who had submitted claims to insurers as of the end of last week, OIR said.

Close to 90 percent of the local claims have been closed, but four in 10 were not paid.

“A primary reason for claims being closed without payment is that the damage was less than the hurricane deductible,” Lynne McChristian, Florida spokeswoman with the Insurance Information Institute, said Tuesday. “It is good to note that insurers do suggest that their policyholders report all damage because Florida has an annual hurricane deductible. If we were to experience another storm in the same season, damage from the first storm counts toward the deductible.

“Another common factor for a claim to be closed without payment is that the damage was not covered. An example would be if a tree fell in the yard but did not damage insured property,” she said.

Losses from Irma statewide are now estimated at $7.95 billion. That is up by $746 million from the insurance office’s report five weeks ago.

Homeowners account for two-thirds of the claims, the office said. Another 11 percent come from other residential dwellings and 6 percent were filed by mobile home owners. Ten percent of the claims were from lines of business.

The Florida claims do not include flood damage, which is not covered by homeowners’ insurance. One analyst has projected that flood losses nationwide could hit $38 billion and that up to 80 percent of damaged homes may not have flood coverage.

In Sarasota County, 11,023 property owners had filed claims in the latest insurance office report. Some 4,957 have been paid, 4,791 were not paid, and 1,275 are open.

In Manatee, 8,207 claims were filed, with 4,280 paid, 3,122 closed without payment and 805 still open.

A total of 7,365 claims were filed in Charlotte County, with 3,663 paid, 2,965 unpaid and 737 open.

The three counties account for 3 percent of the total Florida damage claims filed with insurers, regulators said.

Miami-Dade reported the most claims, followed by Broward, Orange, Collier and Lee counties.

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