Insurance adjuster: 'Painful' to deliver news about deductible

Adjusters assessing damage in Jacksonville after Hurricane Matthew

By Heather Leigh - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Nearly 200 insurance adjusters with American Integrity Insurance Company of Florida are making their way around Jacksonville assessing the damage from Hurricane Matthew.

Adjuster Tamra Rivas was in the Mandarin area Wednesday, where 91-year-old James Edmonds lives along the St. Johns River.

Rivas' job is to find damage, tally it up and help her clients get the money they need to rebuild.

"I want to find their damage because that's my job -- No. 1. And No. 2, they are going to find out later and they are going to call me and I'm going to come back anyways, so I do a full-scope if I'm allowed to," Rivas said. 

At Edmonds' home, water rose significantly, causing major damage to his dock and flooding the gazebo in his backyard.

Edmonds also had about 15 trees fall in his yard, but luckily none of them fell on his home. The roof on the gazebo did sustain some damage. Edmonds said he knows his house fared pretty well, and there were other homeowners who were not as fortunate. 

"I'm a person. It's my community. I get it. I've been through it. I treat everybody as if they were my family. It hurts to see. I've had a grown man cry in my arms. You know, it's painful, but I'm the rock. I'm the one here to find a solution and I have a lot of vendors and a lot of help for those solutions," Rivas said. 

Despite the damage, Edmonds' deductible is so high that the insurance company is most likely not going to be able to help him.

"I've lived 91 years. I don't care. I would like to have the money, but I'm going to survive, so it doesn't bother me," Edmonds said.

Rivas said most people think about their deductibles after the storm, because that’s when people start looking at their coverage.

“It’s really painful,” Rivas said. “That’s one of those painful parts, when I get to someone’s house and I explain, 'You’ve got a really large deductible. You’ve got a $3,500 deductible. You only have $1,500 in damage.' And when I’m explaining that, they’re looking at me, and I’m like, 'I am so sorry. But that’s what it is.'”

Rivas said even still, homeowners should file a claim and call their insurance adjuster after two days if they haven’t heard from them to make sure they are aware of the damage and are scheduled to come out.

Hurricane Matthew claims top 75,000

More than 75,000 insurance claims have been filed in Florida after Hurricane Matthew hit the East Coast this month, with the estimated losses up to $454 million, according to numbers on the state Office of Insurance Regulation website Wednesday.

Volusia County had the highest number of claims filed, with 22,244.

Another 12,274 claims had been filed in Duval County, 9,690 in Brevard County, 7,982 in St. Johns County, 5,096 in Flagler County and 3,256 in Orange County.

Claims had been filed from the storm in all but Hendry, Holmes, Lafayette, Liberty, Taylor and Washington counties. Of the 75,215 claims filed so far, the majority involving residential property, 3,158 had resulted in payments and 4,252 had been closed without any payment.

By comparison, Hurricane Hermine, which swept through North Florida in early September, has resulted in 18,222 claims. Damages based on those claims stand at $95 million.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report. 

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