For months, Hurricane Ian victims have told WINK News their homeowners insurance companies have not made them whole or gotten their home back to what it was before the storm hit Southwest Florida on September 28, 2022. Construction estimates total tens of thousands of dollars, but the insurance company checks don’t scratch the surface.
The American Policyholder Association, an insurance company watchdog association, said they “have had multiple carrier side whistleblowers come forward alleging criminal fraud perpetrated to reduce or deny hurricane Ian victims’ insurance claims and they also have internal documents to support their allegations.”
Now Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis confirmed the Division of Investigative and Forensic Services opened an investigation into fraud allegations based on a tip provided by Representative Bob Rommel’s Office.
The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation is also conducting investigations into how companies handled Ian claims.
Neither office revealed which companies they are investigating.
This comes after two independent adjusters spoke to the Commerce Committee during the property insurance special session in December 2022. They claimed insurance companies altered their notes and estimates in order to pay the policyholder less.
“However, the insurance company was leaving my name on the estimates in a fraudulent effort to make it appear that I had written this bogus estimate which defrauded the policyholder out of their proper claim payments.” Independent adjuster Ben Mandell said. “The scheme was repeated over and over again not only on my estimates but on estimates written by other adjusters. This fraud committed by some of the insurance companies is more widespread than any of us could have imagined.”
“They’ve gotta stop changing our estimates and leaving our names on them. You know, they are just taking stuff out for no reason,” added another independent adjuster, Mark Vinson.
Representative Rommel invited them to his office after the meeting and asked them to bring the information they brought forward.
WINK News has reached out to Representative Rommel’s office. His office did not immediately return our request for comment.