NewsCovering Florida


SIX MONTHS AFTER IAN: A community struggles to hold on during battles with insurance

Of the nearly 500,000 residential property claims filed since Hurricane Ian passed, less than half of the claims have been paid out.
Tersigni Damage 2.jpg
Posted at 8:25 PM, Mar 28, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-29 07:43:16-04

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Francis Tersigni keeps the door to his guest bedroom closed. He can’t bear to see the destruction from Hurricane Ian, still not fixed six months after the storm smashed into his condo unit in Port Charlotte.

“You hate to wake up in the morning and look at this,” said Tersigni, a retiree from New Jersey. “That’s why I keep the door closed.”

Water poured through the windows of his guest bedroom. The walls have been stripped to the studs and concrete, his ceiling is tarped, and he’s still not sure when he can make repairs.

“You pay your premium every year and then when it comes time to have something done, it’s amazing."

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The ceilings at Francis Tersigni's condo have been tarped and covered for six months.

It’s a story many in Southwest Florida can relate to in the wake of Hurricane Ian.

Fox 4 Investigates pulled the latest numbers from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation which show of the nearly 500,000 residential property claims filed since Ian passed, less than half of the claims have been paid out.

Of those, it’s not clear how many were paid in full and how many were underpayments.

Gov. Ron DeSantis recently announced two state investigations looking into reports of insurance companies purposefully underpaying customers after Ian.

At the Lakeshore of Charlotte County Condominium Association in Port Charlotte, where Tersigni is one of 48 homeowners who took damage, the lack of payment is being felt through the community.

“The association is helpless. We can’t do anything for our owners,” said Daniel Murphy, the Association Board President.

The association, according to Murphy, has had contractors walk off jobs once the board ran out of money.

After a long battle with their insurance company, the board signed on with a lawyer.

Which means all contact with the insurance company ended.

“They won’t talk to me,” said Murphy, referring to his insurance company. “I’ll call them, they’ll say ‘don’t you have an attorney? Well, we can’t talk to you. We have to go through your attorney.’”

 But that takes time.

“Generally speaking, once you file litigation it’s unlikely you’re going to see a day in a trial before 18 to 24 months,” said Attorney Gina Clausen Lozier who is not associated with this case, but works many similar claims.

“A lot of people may just need to make the repairs and incur those costs and then seek reimbursement from the carrier.

Unfortunately, if you’re looking at a $40,000 roof a lot of people don’t have that type of financial savings just to replace the roof because they rely on their insurance company.”

For Tersigni that’s not an option and though he’s called Florida home for several years, he wonders how long he can live through this.

“I wish I could sell (the condo) and go back to Jersey,” said Tersigni.