Hurricane Irma was as big as it was powerful. After making landfall in the Florida Keys, Irma continued on a path of destruction across the entire state. Irma left an unprecedented number of Floridians with storm-related residential property damage. This means a lot of you need to know about the Emergency Order issued by Florida’s Insurance Commissioner.
The order was issued on September 13, 2017, but the process began before Hurricane Irma ever made landfall in Florida. On September 4th, Governor Scott declared a state of emergency in every county in the State of Florida. This cleared the way for the Insurance Commissioner to issue an Emergency Order to “protect the public health, safety and welfare of Florida’s policyholders.”
Here is a summary of provisions that may be particularly important for those left with residential property damage as a result of Hurricane Irma.
Cancellation & Non-Renewals
Residential property insurance policies that cover a dwelling or residential property located in the state that was damaged by Hurricane Irma cannot be cancelled or non-renewed until 90 days after the property has been repaired. A structure is deemed to be “repaired” when it is substantially completed and restored to the extent that it is insurable by another authorized insurer that is writing policies in this state.
The Emergency Order also provides that notices of cancellation that were issued or mailed on or after August 25, 2017 through and including September 3, 2017, must be withdrawn and reissued no earlier than October 15, 2017. The premium for the extended period of coverage will be a pro rata portion of the premium for the entire policy term.
If a policy provision, notice, correspondence or law imposes a deadline for policyholders to perform an act or transmit information that falls on or after September 4, 2017, that deadline is extended to December 3, 2017. However, policyholders with Hurricane Irma claims must still provide information and cooperate in the claim adjustment process.
Though no interest, penalties or other charges can accrue or be assessed as the result of the new deadline, this extension does not apply to premiums due in the normal course of business. The extension also does not apply to new policies effective on or after September 10, 2017.
Payment of Claims
Under Florida law, insurance companies need written authorization to pay claims by debit card or other form of electronic transfer. However, if an insurance company verifies the identity of the recipient and does not charge a fee, the written authorization requirement is waived for the duration of the state of emergency. Insurance companies remain liable for payment if funds are misdirected.