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Hurricane Irma: Inspection backlogs grow as $5.3B OKed in claims, aid


Date: October 09, 2017
Source: Palm Beach Post
Author:  Charles Elmore


Estimated insured losses and federal grants in Florida top $5.3 billion for Hurricane Irma, and the number is likely to grow because inspections have not yet been completed on tens of thousands of Palm Beach County households seeking help with home damage.

Multiple storms in a matter of weeks across the southeast, including hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Nate, have stretched thin resources for everything from federal grant inspections to claims adjusting for private insurers.

More than 20,000 insurance claims in the county have yet to be resolved, out of more than 28,000 filed,according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.

So far, almost as many insurance claims have been closed without payment (3,918) as with payment (4,109) in Palm Beach County.

The estimated value of claims filed so far against private insurers statewide is about $4.6 billion.

Possible reasons for closing claims without payment range from not meeting hurricane deductibles to finding claims invalid or payable by federal flood insurance as opposed to private homeowner policies.

“I had hoped by keeping up on my insurance it wasn’t going to be wiping out my savings,” said Lake Worth resident John Flynn, whose insurer told him he likely won’t meet a hurricane deductible of nearly $6,000.

Federal Emergency Management Agency grants exceed $700 million, with about $46 million approved in Palm Beach County, spokesman John Mills said.

A disaster recovery center in Boynton Beach remains open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., andanother center is being considered in the western portion of the county, though disaster survivor assistance teams are working in the area, Mills said.

In addition, the Small Business Administration has approved more than $34 million in disaster loans to Florida businesses and residents, including a little under $1 million in Palm Beach County, officials said Monday. The deadline to apply is Nov. 9 for homeowners and renters.

FEMA grants can range from emergency assistance with food, shelter and other immediate needs to helping cover emergency repairs and uninsured damage at residences.

About 35,000 households have applied for FEMA grants that can include compensation related to home damage in Palm Beach County, with about 6,000 residential inspections completed as of Friday.

How do I get help?

For damage not covered by insurance, apply atwww.DisasterAssistance.gov. For more information, check fema.govor call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362. Or get help in person at a recovery center, such as the Carolyn Sims Center, 225 NW 12th Ave., Boynton Beach.