(FORT MYERS, Fla.) - Just weeks after the anniversary of Hurricane Ian, many homeowners are still facing problems with their insurance claims and other legal issues long after the category IV hurricane pounded Southwest Florida with sustained winds up to 155 miles per hour, leaving destruction in its path.
The non-profit law firm Florida Rural Legal Services (FRLS), funded by American Red Cross Recovery Grant Program, is providing no-cost legal services that includes flood insurance proof of loss preparation and FEMA Flood Directorate Appeals; FEMA recoupment defense; applications for disaster tax relief, landlord/tenant issues concerning repair issues, non-repair, mold concealment; disputes regarding home elevation certificates and flood plain zoning; disputes regarding significant damage determination against homeowners\ and other legal issues due to Hurricane Ian.
“FRLS is elated to have additional disaster funding through the American Red Cross during this critical time and to work with partners dedicated to ensuring our goal of meeting the myriad of legal needs our disaster clients have faced,” said Jaffe Pickett, executive director and chief executive officer of Florida Rural Legal Services.
Investigative reports have alleged that insurers have slashed hurricane payouts far below damage estimates. American Policyholder Association, a nonprofit insurance industry watchdog group states that it has found “compelling evidence of what appears to be multiple instances of systematic criminal fraud perpetrated to cheat policyholders out of fair insurance claims.”
In Lee County, the hurricane caused more than $7.3 billion dollars in damage to residential and commercial structures.
In Lee County, 252,994 claims have been submitted. Over 50,000 of those claims were closed with no payment. In Charlotte County, 101,490 claims were made, with 13,483 claims closed with no payment.
Jaffe said, “We will continue to provide comprehensive services and outreach to all disaster victims in need of free civil legal aid in our 14 county service areas and statewide for migrant farmworkers.”
The FRLS Disaster Recovery Legal Services Project takes a holistic approach and offers all legal aid services that are available to individual household needs. Our statewide call center provides intake, counsel, advice, and referrals and operates through a toll-free phone number and online application.
FRLS provides legal representation throughout the dispute process by assisting with the insurance claim and if necessary, filing claims against insurance companies.
The non-profit law firm can assist with filing complaints with the Florida Department of Insurance and educating consumers regarding assignments of benefits.
Clients who are struggling with contractors or construction disputes, construction liens, foreclosures because of insurance disputes, tax liens, or other disaster related mortgage issues can also get help from Florida Rural Legal Services by contacting 1-888-582-3410.