Cape Coral homeowner says Hurricane Ian insurance settlement check still hasn’t arrived

Reporter: Andryanna Sheppard
Published: Updated:

With months left of Hurricane Season 2023, about 16 percent of Hurricane Ian homeowners insurance claims are still open according to data through June 28 from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. One Cape Coral homeowner reached a settlement with his insurance company but claims the final check still hasn’t reached his house.

Alexis Hernandez has had to rig his water system so his family can live in their home.

Hernandez’s rigged water system, credit: WINK News

“I tried to make a small repair here and kind of bypass the system,” Hernandez said showing the system. “So, I can at least get some type of water system inside the house so we could take a shower. Obviously, this is not professional. This is something I had to make just real quick so we could get by.”

He is constantly worried his home will sustain even more damage because he believes his insurance company, Universal Property and Casualty Insurance, is dragging its feet. He hasn’t received the final insurance payment to fix his home.

“I got water leaks inside my house. Obviously, that creates a bigger problem with the mold and the insulation,” Hernandez added. “And then the ceiling, the sheetrock, all that needs to be replaced. Now you have stains as well and it just creates a hazard, especially for the kids. They shouldn’t be inhaling that. They shouldn’t be around any of that type of stuff.”

Hernandez’s roof, credit: WINK News

According to the Insurance Information Institute, Universal Property and Casualty Insurance is the second largest home insurer in Florida. The company’s website claims its fast-track crew is equipped to process and pay claims on the spot. That’s far from Hernandez’s experience.

“They actually dropped the ball,” he said.

Hernandez filed his claim a couple of days after Hurricane Ian. According to estimates he got on his own, it will cost $70-$80,000 to fix his home. Someone came out to inspect the damage a month after the storm. About a month later, he received a check for about $9,600. He didn’t agree that was enough.

“And even the square footage on the house, he has it all wrong,” Hernandez said of the inspector’s report. “Every square footage of the rooms, the house, the roof, everything was off.”

He said months passed without hearing from his insurance company. He had to call them.

“They told me that the reason that no one’s gotten back to me is because we haven’t done a portal,” Hernandez recalled from a phone conversation with the insurer.

Hernandez’s roof, credit: WINK News

So, Hernandez created that portal and uploaded all the documentation he had. But still, silence. He kept calling until he could get some answers.

“Every time it will be something different as well,” he said of his various phone calls with his insurance company. “‘Nothing’s been uploaded to your portal’ and you’ll call two hours later. ‘Yep, we got your portal right here.’ And then ever since I filed the claim to right now, there’s been four desk adjusters. And at this point, the fourth desk adjuster is not even speaking with my public adjuster. The supervisor is handling this now.”

Hernandez said he filed a complaint with the Florida Department of Financial Services and it looked like there was some movement. He was supposed to have a meeting in early June but it was postponed multiple times. They eventually came to a settlement in late June.

Hernandez’s tarp, credit: WINK News

WINK News Consumer Reporter Andryanna Sheppard contacted Universal to get their side of the story. A spokesperson wrote in a statement that the company didn’t hear anything from Hernandez’s public adjuster until January. The spokesperson added the company didn’t get additional documentation from the public adjuster for another inspection until June. 19 days after that, all the parties involved came together to discuss their differences and arrived at an agreement. The settlement agreement was sent the same day but the check still hasn’t hit Hernandez’s mailbox.

“It’s like I’m pulling teeth here,” Hernandez described his experience. “It’s like you’re a hot potato. They’re just throwing you around inside that office. That’s almost worse.”

Hernandez looks at his roof, credit: WINK News

So, until that check arrives, his home will stay damaged as peak hurricane season gets closer.

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation’s data shows Lee County had the highest number of Hurricane Ian insurance claims. About 40,000 claims are still open in the county.

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