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It has been just over a month since Hurricane Michael slammed the Florida Panhandle as a Category 4 hurricane with wind speeds reaching just shy of Category 5 status.

The devastation from the storm that killed at least 35 people in Florida is still impacting residents and insured losses continue to climb as recovery efforts are in full effect and will be for some time.

“Michael saw our worst fears realized, of rapid intensification just before landfall on a part of a coastline that has never experienced a Category 4 hurricane,” University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy said after the storm hit, as reported by The Associated Press.

The massive storm made landfall in Mexico Beach, Fla., on Oct. 10 with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph, according to catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide. The minimum central pressure at landfall — a key measure of hurricane strength — was 919 mb, the third lowest on record for a U.S. hurricane, AIR said.

Michael is the most powerful hurricane to have come ashore in the Florida Panhandle since the first records were kept in 1851, said Dr. Peter Sousounis, vice president and director of meteorology, AIR Worldwide.

“Fueled by unseasonably high 84-degree sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico and unhindered by any prior landfall, Hurricane Michael rapidly intensified shortly before making landfall at close to Category 5 intensity,” Sousounis said.

Mexico Beach was “virtually obliterated” AIR said, as it was in the right eyewall of Michael where storm surge is typically the highest. In addition, the high wind speeds leveled buildings in the area, as well as took down power lines and countless trees.

Please enjoy the full article with Pictures below;

https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2018/11/20/509157.htm

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High Republican turnout in Florida held back the predicted “blue wave” as FAIA-supported candidates scored major victories in Tuesday’s election. After spending nearly $900,000 on political campaigns in the 2018 election cycle, FAIA scored a 91.5 success rate, going four for four in Cabinet races, 13 of 14 in Senate races, and 37 of 41 in House races. The election of presumed Governor-Elect Ron DeSantis gives a huge boost to the insurance community’s hopes of combating assignment of benefits fraud.

Narrow margins mean recounts

But, this is Florida, and nearly three days after Election Day, election results are still not certified for the Governor’s race (in a machine recount), the U.S. Senate race, and the Agriculture Commissioner’s race (both in a by-hand recount). Follow Kyle Ulrich’s blog for updates.

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Total estimated insured losses from Hurricane Michael have reached more than $2.1 billion, according to the most recent data from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.

The current number of claims from Hurricane Michael, a Category 4 storm that hit the Florida Panhandle before continuing a path of destruction through several other Southeast states, had reached 110,183 with 26.1 percent of that total number of claims closed as of Oct. 30, 2018. OIR compiled aggregate information from claims data filed by insurers covering all claims based on filings received.

The lines of business included in the total number of claims are residential property, commercial property, private flood, business interruption and miscellaneous other lines.

Residential property losses account for the majority of the total claims at 78,045 – 57,088 of that number is homeowners claims. Only 20.7 percent of residential property claims were closed as of Oct. 30.

The percentage of commercial property claims closed was lower at 10.3 percent of the 4,471 claims received. Only 460 business interruption claims had been filed so far, with 9.1 percent of those closed to date.

Just 64 flood claims had been filed as of Oct. 30, with 37.5 percent of those claims already closed.

The Florida Department of Financial Services said in a statement Wednesday that Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the state insurer of last resort, had 3,231 claims as of Oct. 29.

Please enjoy the full article below;

https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2018/11/01/506263.htm

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Three contractors conducting business in Leon, Gadsden, and Gulf counties have been removed from the Panhandle by the Florida Department of Financial Services’ Disaster Fraud Action Strike Team for unlicensed activity following Hurricane Michael, according to a statement from Florida Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis.

The contractors are banned from soliciting or conducting any work in Florida pending a full investigation

The fraud teams, formed last year after Hurricane Irma to stay ahead of post-storm fraud, are investigating reports of potential fraud in Bay, Gulf, Washington, and Leon counties. The Strike Team was activated before Hurricane Michael made landfall and had boots on the ground immediately following the storm.

Initials sweeps have been made in Liberty, Gadsden, Gulf, and Leon counties. First sweeps in Bay, Jackson and Washing counties are ongoing. Secondary sweeps in the impacted areas will begin this week.

“Anyone who tries to take advantage of Florida families and businesses during this vulnerable time will be caught,” Patronis said. “I can’t stress this enough: do not hire anyone without asking for their professional license information and if they have workers’ comp insurance.”

Unlicensed activity can put homeowners and contractors at risk and opens the door to fraud. Consumers should always verify that contractors have the appropriate licenses, including workers’ compensation coverage, before they hire a company to assist in repairs after a storm, DFS said.

To report any suspicious activity call CFO Patronis’ help line at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO

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More than a week after Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle, authorities are reporting three more deaths from the Category 4 storm as residents returning to their homes try to piece together their lives from the rubble left by strong winds and storm surge.

Michael slammed into Florida’s Panhandle with 155 mph (250 kph) winds on Oct. 10, retained hurricane-force winds as far inland as southern Georgia, and also affected the Carolinas and Virginia. Six deaths were reported in Virginia, mostly from flash flooding. North Carolina had three deaths, and Georgia had one.

 

Florida’s death toll stood at 17 on Thursday, said Emergency Management Division spokesman Alberto Moscoso. The official number included an additional death from Liberty County, and others confirmed as storm-related by district medical examiners, including 12 from the hardest hit Bay County.

Additionally, three more deaths have been confirmed as storm-related to bring Bay County’s total to 15 deaths, according to Whit Majors, chief investigator for the district medical examiner’s office. Majors said those deaths were reported to state emergency management officials. It wasn’t immediately clear why they were not yet added to the statewide tally.

Across the region, stunned residents continued picking up the pieces on Thursday, as many remained without electricity.

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https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2018/10/19/505137.htm

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In an effort to keep the Florida assignment of benefits (AOB) crisis from further worsening in the state, Florida’s insurance industry, regulators and consumer advocates are on high alert for AOB activity in the wake of Hurricane Michael and working to educate consumers on the pitfalls of signing over their policy rights.

“Consumers need all the information they can get to help navigate making repairs to their homes and vehicles, and we’re working hard to provide resources to help prevent Floridians from becoming victims of AOB scams,” said Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which spearheads the Consumer Protection Coalition, formed in 2017 to tackle the state’s AOB epidemic.

pressuring some to sign an assignment of benefits contract. Check with your insurance agent, insurance company, or call my office before you sign anything,” Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis warned in an Oct. 15 press release from the Department of Financial Services. “Storms bring out the best in people, but unfortunately, they bring out the worst in some. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Florida’s AOB problem has stemmed from unlicensed water remediation and roofing contractors who have homeowners sign over their insurance policy rights in exchange for needed repairs to their homes, and then file inflated or fake claims with the insurer. When those claims are disputed or denied, these contractors file a lawsuit that insurers are often left footing the bill for.

Carriers across the state have seen an increase in litigation because of inflated claims, which is leading to increased costs for policyholders. According to the Florida Department of Financial Services, there were 405 AOB lawsuits across all 67 Florida counties in 2006, and by 2016 that number had risen to 28,200.

State officials have warned that the AOB issue could become even worse in the aftermath of a large-scale disaster, such as Hurricane Michael, due to a large number of claims triggering a contractor shortage, and people who are anxious to get repairs started on their homes assigning their insurance policy benefits to contractors.

Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier said before Michael hit that scenario was one of his biggest concerns, and noted the quick handling of claims would help ensure people are not taken advantage of

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https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2018/10/18/504876.htm

Please call Lee from Acentria Insurance at 954-270-7966 for free quotes on Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, private Flood, Car, Business & Commercial policies and Life, health and all types of group policies as well for individuals or businesses large and small.

Florida’s insurance regulator has issued an emergency order that ensures “additional protections” to Florida policyholders – including freezing any rate hikes for 90 days – to support recovery efforts in areas impacted by Hurricane Michael.

The order by Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier suspending and activating certain insurance rules was issued Oct. 15 in response to an executive order by Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

The order requires that insurers:

  1. Provide an additional 90 days to policyholders to supply required information to their insurance company. Many Floridians were displaced during this dangerous storm, and providing additional time to submit information to insurance companies gives them needed flexibility.
  2. Rescind for 90 days all non-renewals or cancellations issued to policyholders in the days leading up to Hurricane Michael. This gives policyholders 90 days to either renew their insurance policy, or find a new policy; and
  3. Freeze any and all efforts to increase rates on policyholders for 90 days.

“Governor Scott and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis have made it clear that the expectation for Florida’s insurance companies is to expeditiously respond to policyholders’ needs and to treat families fairly. The quick response of insurance companies is critical to the recovery of Florida families following Hurricane Michael,” according to a statement from the governor’s office.

Altmaier said the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation is working to “ensure every possible step that can be taken to assist those impacted by Hurricane Michael will be executed as soon as possible.”

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https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2018/10/16/504583.htm