TAMPA, Fla. — Public Adjuster Rick Tutwiler said he has been working nearly 200 Hurricane Ian claims and hopes lawmakers make some changes to improve Florida's property insurance crisis during this week's special session.
"At the end of the day, it should be about the policyholder. What is in their best interest?" he said. "They're the key not the insurance companies."
Last Thursday, Tutwiler made the drive from his office in Tampa to Boca Grande to check on a condominium roof that he said was blown off by Hurricane Ian.
"(A) temporary roof until they get money to be able to replace the roof," he said. "We had water that entered from top down and some of the units through the windows."
Tutwiler said he's seeing some Hurricane Ian claims, he considers legitimate, get little to no money from the insurance companies.
"They're getting low payments," he said. "A lot of people are getting denials based on this 'wind driven rain' exclusion."
Tutwiler said he would like to see lawmakers empower adjusters to pay legitimate claims, which he believes will cut down on lawsuits.
"They need to empower the people who are seasoned and trained and qualified to come out here and help people," he said. "Let those people come out here and make decisions. So, we can get claims adjusted and moved on."
The public adjuster would also like to see the 'assignment of benefits' clause go away.
"People sign with contractors and then they sign their policy over to a contractor," he said. "It's just bad. That needs to be abolished."
According to a joint proclamation issued by the Florida Senate President and House Speaker last week, the special session that began today will focus on:
*Reduce the cost of litigation regarding property insurance claims.
*Foster the availability of reinsurance for property insurance.
*Improve claims handling practices in property insurance.
*Modify deadlines for notices of property insurance losses and limit the assignment of benefits under property insurance policies.
*Prescribe property insurance requirements regarding alternate dispute processes, coverage options and agent practices.
Lawmakers want to stabilize the market which this year had six insurers declared insolvent. Many Floridians have seen large rate increases or have been dropped by private insurers.
Lawmakers also want to bolster Citizens Property Insurance Company, the insurer of last resort for Florida property owners when they cannot obtain other insurance.
"Trust me, there is a line, by line, by line, by line, that is going to get ramrodded come Monday," Tutwiler said. "It's going to be a 5 day spectacle to end the craziest year I've ever seen in this business."