• Hurricane Matthew victims dealing with insurance claim problems

    By: Danielle Avitable, Action News Jax


    ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. - Attorneys met with several people in St. Johns County Wednesday night who are still dealing with the mess that Hurricane Matthew left behind.

    One word that some homeowners living along Vilano Beach describe what they’re going through is stress.

    "The stressfulness has probably come from the insurance more than anything else," homeowner Kelley Nielson said.

    Neilson said she came to the meeting with a flood insurance claim attorney to get answers.

    "I’ve had a private adjuster come in and they're telling me $70,000 to $80,000 to redo it, but my insurance is offering me $4,500," Neilson said.

    Nielson’s home was flooded with nearly 3 feet of water during Hurricane Matthew and she said it’s now down to studs without money to rebuild.

    "We're living in a very nice place that only has a top floor that's barely livable," Neilson said.

    Attorney J. R. Whaley traveled to St. Augustine from Louisiana to share his expertise on flood insurance claims.

    "It really is just incredible that at the time at their greatest need they're having to haggle with insurance companies," Whaley said.

    Several people like Cat Heifner going through this for the first time had plenty of questions.

    "Our main concern is that we're made whole for the flood insurance that we paid for," Heifner said.

    Heifner said the meeting made her realize she needs to hire an attorney after her insurance company changed the designation of her home after the damage was done.

    "That designation minimizes our claim," Heifner said.

    The deadline was extended once and people have 120 days from the date of their loss instead of 60 to submit their proof of loss.

    "Deadlines are coming up too fast, adjustments are coming up too slow and the values really aren't a true representation," Whaley said.

    Whaley said they need to push to get the deadline extended to have time to see if their appraisal is fair.

    "People are too rushed and the adjusters have tried to cover a lot of ground and frankly just missed some things," Whaley said.

    Whaley said it’s smart for homeowners to have an estimation done on the damage before the adjuster comes in and it’s important to document everything that happens throughout the process of filing a claim. 

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