Hurricane Ian’s new Category 5 status doesn’t affect insurance

Reporter: Gail Levy Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:

Hurricane Ian’s brief category change—reaching Category 5 strength in the Gulf of Mexico before making landfall as a Category 4 storm on Sept. 28—will not have any impact on people’s insurance claims.

Even if your house was trashed, you still have to pay your deductible. Once the National Hurricane Center names a storm, it automatically triggers the hurricane deductible in a property insurance policy. You’re then under those terms no matter what the wind speed is.

Living along the water comes with pros and definitely cons.

“Everything inside was, you know, pretty much devastated,” said Fort Myers man Herb Thomas. “It looked like someone put our furniture in a washing machine.”

Thomas’ washing machine, in fact, was also put underwater when Hurricane Ian’s storm surge rushed from the Caloosatchee River into his home.

“We had kayaks in our dining room; we had a surfboard that cut a king-sized bed in half,” Thomas said.

That was no big deal to Thomas; it’s just stuff. But, unfortunately, it’s stuff that won’t be covered by his insurance.

“I didn’t have flood insurance, I had hurricane insurance,” Thomas said. “But I was not covered because the wind damage was minimal. OK, so all my damage was flood.”

Insurance expert Mark Friedlander assured WINK News: Even if you did have flood insurance, your claim does not change with Ian receiving retroactive Category 5 for a short time in the Gulf.

“Even if it had bumped up to a Category 5 for landfall, that still would not change the insurance impacts,” Friedlander said.

Friedlander says in Florida, Ian is responsible for around 700,000 insurance claims. As of Tuesday, nearly 80% of those claims have been closed. But there are still many outstanding claim issues.

That’s why Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is hosting additional insurance villages from April 17 to 19.

“They are ready to complete the claims process with you on the ground during these insurance villages and have the authority to actually issue payments,” Friedlander said. “Take advantage. Be prepared. Bring all the information you have on your loss.”

When and where those insurance villages will take place:

  • Monday, April 17
    Charlotte County Event Center
    75 Taylor St.
    Punta Gorda
  • Tuesday, April 18
    Diamondhead Beach Resort ballroom
    2000 Estero Blvd.
    Fort Myers Beach
  • Wednesday, April 19
    Charlotte County Event Center
    75 Taylor St.
    Punta Gorda

The insurance villages will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

If you need help through Florida’s insurance consumer helpline, phone call hours are from 8 a.m to noon. You can call 877-my-fl-cfo during those hours and get help.

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