Insurance claims in Florida reached $218 million, substantially less than the billions of dollars in damage anticipated as Hurricane Matthew whipped through Haiti, according to reports.
Despite the devastation in the Caribbean, the Category 4 hurricane went easy on Florida as it weakened in its approach to the US, staying mainly off the coast, resulting in much less property damage than previously feared.
The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation said that 90% of the claims filed so far have been for residential property damage. Additionally, less than 5% went to flood damage, which is typically covered by the government’s National Federal Insurance Program.
"We anticipate this number will grow as consumers return to their homes and assess the damage to their property and belongings," Karen Kees, a spokeswoman for the state regulator, told reporters. "It will take time for this process to be complete."
The hurricane was likewise a litmus test to the small private insurers that currently dominate the Florida market, following the leave taking of larger players who sustained major losses after powerful storms hit the state.
State officials said more than 200 insurers reported receiving claims related to the hurricanes. The peak of these claims came from Volusia, Duval and Brevard counties, which encompass Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, Cocoa Beach, Melbourne and Cape Canaveral, according to reports.
In a previous report, insurers expressed worry that shady contractors could contribute to higher losses by pressuring policyholders into signing over their benefits before making repairs on their homes.
Civic group Citizens and the Florida Property and Casualty Association reminded the general public in a statement that they should open their claims by getting in touch with their insurers or agents. “Unfortunately, unscrupulous contractors and repair companies thrive in the frenzied days following any storm. Policy holders must be wary of unlicensed contractors or deals that sound too good to be true,” a Citizens release emphasized.