Puerto Rico Insurance Commissioner’s Office: Over $2.5 billion in claims, advances paid after Hurricane Maria
SAN JUAN – As of April 30, property and casualty insurers in Puerto Rico have paid policyholders more than $2.5 billion in claims and advances for damages following hurricanes Irma and María, the Insurance Commissioner’s Office said Thursday.
Meanwhile, Iraelia Pernas, the executive director of the Puerto Rico Insurance Companies Association (Acodese by its Spanish acronym), said that out of that total, its members have disbursed $1.95 billion as of April 30, with 87% of the claims closed.
“We acknowledge that approximately 15% of claims have yet to be awarded and we are working fast in that direction, but it is important to note that within the universe of over 250,000 claims that were submitted, those that remain to be resolved are the most complex,” Pernas said in a statement. “This is because it requires a lot of analysis and expertise to pay what is fair and reasonable, according to the policy.”
Regarding assertions by the United Retailers Association (CUD by its Spanish initials) that the claims filed by its members, mainly small and midsize businesses, with various insurers, have yet to be resolved, Pernas said she was communicating with the group’s president, Nelson Ramírez, to establish a mechanism to solve the cases.
“The interest of Acodese members is to solve each case on its merits, explain the reason for the denial of coverage (if it were the case) and the application of deductibles and other ends of the claims. The fundamental thing is that each policyholder receives from their insurer exactly what corresponds to the coverage they have,” the executive director said, adding, “María has been the biggest challenge the country has faced in many areas, and the insurance industry has not been the exception.”
Pernas said 33% of residential property claims were closed without payment and 54% were closed with payment, totaling $563 million. For commercial property, 38% of the claims were paid, for a total of $1.33 billion, with 26% of the claims closed without payment.
“This hurricane and its direct impact on Puerto Rico is unprecedented compared with previous events on the island and is may be considered one of the largest weather disasters in the history of the United States. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the insurance industry continues to work hard to try to deal with claims as soon as possible,” Pernas said.
She stressed that the last major disaster Puerto Rico went through was Hurricane Georges, the claims for which resulted in the payment of $1.2 billion. That process took two years, the lawyer added.
“So, if we compare it with the work done after Hurricane Maria, where after eight months 84% of the claims have been awarded, the effort of the insurers in the country has been significant,” she said.
Acodese members include Antilles Insurance Co., Caribbean American Property Insurance Co. (Assurant), Chubb Insurance Co., Cooperativa de Seguros Múltiples de Puerto Rico, Mapfre Praico Insurance Co., One Alliance Insurance Corp., QBE Seguros, Real Legacy Assurance Co., Simed, United Surety & Indemnity Co. (USIC) and Universal Insurance Co.