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CFO warns insurance companies not to drag feet on hurricane claims

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Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and David Altmaier, commissioner for the state's Office of Insurance Regulation, warned insurers not to slow-walk claims made in the wake of Hurricane Michael. 

A written notice, sent to insurers Wednesday afternoon, reminded companies that they must pay undisputed benefits owed under property insurance policies within 90 days after a claim is made.

The hurricane, which slammed into Florida's Panhandle in early October, caused about $4.5 billion in insured losses and generated more than 133,000 claims. According to the state, more than 42,000 of those claims remain open.

“I expect insurers will keep their promise and obligation to Floridians and pay undisputed claims quickly," said Patronis, who is from Panama City. "Insurance companies must do everything possible to ensure those impacted by Hurricane Michael are made whole. If they don’t fulfill these expectations, Florida insurance consumers will be more vulnerable to fraud.”

In the notice, the two offices remind insurers that in order to make claim or customer service resources available, they may need to set up mobile offices in the Panhandle and go on calls to policyholders. The goal is not only to follow Florida statue, the offices wrote, but to "restore a sense of normalcy and facilitate restoration and recovery." 

“Hurricane Michael caused catastrophic damage, rendered thousands of our citizens homeless, and destroyed critical infrastructure," said Altmaier. "Countless first responders, crews, officials and volunteers continue to work around the clock to support and rebuild communities that have been forever changed — we expect nothing less from insurance companies.”