Hundreds of South Floridians filed insurance claims for damage from Hurricane Dorian-- even though it didn’t make landfall in the state and barely had tropical storm force winds.
Statewide, nearly 4,000 claims were submitted through Sept. 16, according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. Of those, 908 -- or 23 percent -- came from Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties.
“Most of the damage we are seeing is from downed limbs and that sort of thing," said Michael Peltier, spokesman for state-owned Citizens Property Insurance Corp. “Generally speaking, if something [tree limb, fence, etc.] was already weak, it could sustain damage under Dorian conditions.”
The tallies released by the state do not include details about the type or severity of the damage claims.
Dorian stayed about 100 miles offshore as it moved north up the Florida coast, sending wind gusts up to 41 mph into South Florida. As Dorian moved closer to Jacksonville and Daytona Beach, those counties experienced peak gusts of 44 mph.
Sustained winds along the coast were much lower during Dorian, but a gust is all it takes to break a tree limb over a house, said Peltier.
A bit more than half -- 2,288 -- of the 3,961 claims submitted to insurers in Florida through Sept. 16 were for damage to residential properties, the data shows. Just 156 were for damage to commercial property.
And 1,500 were for miscellaneous coverage, including fire, marine, auto, aircraft, industrial, crop and surplus lines.
Locke Burt, president and CEO of Security First Insurance, which primarily covers properties in the northern part of the state, said his company has received 288 claims.
Burt urges homeowners to submit any damage report to their insurer, even if they know the value won’t meet their deductible.
That’s because “any amount of damage would be counted as part of their annual hurricane deductible,” Burt said in an email.
“That could save them money if there was a second hurricane because they would otherwise have to argue with their insurance company about the amount of damage caused by Dorian. Since a hurricane is considered an ‘Act of God,’ reporting a claim does not raise your rates. Most people don’t understand that.”
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