congressman darren soto urges FEMA administrator to investigate private insurers that have failed to pay claimants in puerto rico devastated by hurricane maria
The Honorable Peter T. Gaynor
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 500 C Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20472
Dear Administrator Gaynor:
It has come to my attention that there remains an inordinate number of outstanding private insurance claims that have yet to be paid as a result of damage done by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. I respectfully request that you consider looking into this matter and taking appropriate action so that Puerto Rico can properly rebuild from the tragedy that occurred almost three years ago. We encourage you to consider coordinating your efforts with the various state insurance commissioners, copied on this letter
Florida Leaders and Orgs Gathered During Puerto Rico Day to Urge Governor DeSantis and Florida Insurance Commissioner to Investigate MAPFRE’s Negligence to US Citizens
Tallahassee, Fla. - Today, State Senators, Representatives, Alianza for Progress and Víctimas de Maria called on Governor Ron DeSantis and Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier to investigate MAPFRE, a Spain-based insurer looking to expand business in the State of Florida after leaving thousands of claims unanswered in Puerto Rico.
Senator Annette Taddeo, Representative Amy Mercado, Senator Victor Torres, Representative John Cortes, Marcos Vilar, Adriana Rivera and Milton Vazquez held a press conference at the Florida State Capitol to make it clear that MAPFRE should not be allowed into the Florida market without question.
A major story recently published by the New York Times revealed the issue of $1.6 billion in unpaid insurance claims by in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Two-and-a-half years after the storm, tens of thousands of hurricane victims have been either offered nothing or pennies on the dollar to repair the devastating damage of the hurricane.
“My mother would call me crying... saying I can't do this anymore. In the end, my household was given a 600 dollar check. We never cashed it because it was an insult. I urge that MAPFRE be investigated and not allowed to open up operations here because they will do the same thing to the people of Florida,”said Alianza for Progress Communications Director Adriana Rivera.
"As you all know the population of Puerto Ricans in Orange and Osceola counties has exploded because of the turmoil on the island and because of hurricanes Irma and Maria... that means that it's up to us to work together to fight for the needs of our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters as they arrive here and attempt to provide for their families here and on the island,” shared Florida Representative Amy Mercado.
"Florida serves as one of the primary destinations for those displaced by Maria. Here in Florida we cannot let these private insurance companies now be a part of Florida's insurance market... because we will end up in the same situation that Puerto Ricans are dealing with on the island,” said Florida Representative Annette Taddeo.
"Folks still have $1.6 billion in unpaid claims. This is unacceptable. So, we're here today to tell folks we're paying attention, and we're going to have our elected officials hold MAPFRE accountable so that we can get these claims paid back on the island,” said Victimas de Maria spokesperson Milton Vazquez.
“We need to step up to the plate and start suing or locking these people up for fraud. We can't sit here and do nothing. We have to do something," urged
Florida Representative John Cortes.
By Ivan Usero, ¡PRESENTE!, February 28, 2020
For Victims of Hurricane Maria
On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 155mph. This was the strongest hurricane to make landfall in Puerto Rico since 1932. The aftermath of the event caused widespread devastation, an estimated $90 billion in damages and nearly 3,000 fatalities. The inability to get critical disaster funding into the hands of those affected has been widely reported.
Despite the resiliency of the Puerto Rican people and their best efforts to rebuild, insurance companies have delayed and denied payments, resulting in a challenging recovery. Policyholders remain cash-strapped and ill-equipped to battle large insurance carriers who have the luxury of deep pockets and an army of lawyers. While the picture appears bleak, the Puerto Rican people have not quit, with many policyholders preserving their rights to continue fighting for fair payment.
By Ryan Nicol, Florida Politics, February 12, 2020
U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala says Hurricane Maria victims are being treated like “second-class citizens” as $1.6 billion in insurance claims remain unpaid. And U.S. Rep. Darren Soto is now suggesting a House Committee should review the issue.
The figure comes from a New York Times story published late last week that included an estimate of unresolved insurance claims nearly 2½ years after the storm struck the island.
The NYT story highlighted one Spain-based insurer, MAPFRE, which has come under fire from several cities and condo associations seeking to have their claims resolved.
By Frances Robles and Patricia Mazzei, The New York Times, posted on February 6, 2020
When the ground shakes in Puerto Rico and it is time to head for higher ground, the people in the northwestern coastal city of Aguadilla find out the old way: the shrill of whistles.
Aguadilla is one of two dozen cities on the island that do not have emergency alert sirens, even as hundreds of earthquakes have rattled Puerto Rico for weeks. The sirens were destroyed during Hurricane Maria in 2017, and insurers still have not paid long-pending claims that would allow the cities to install new warning equipment.
“I’ve seen people in town with a whistle hanging around their necks,” said Carlos Méndez Martínez, who retired as mayor last month after almost 25 years of running the city.
More than two years after Hurricane Maria descended, destroying power poles, public buildings, homes, roads and other infrastructure from one end of the island to the other, an estimated $1.6 billion in insurance claims — particularly high-dollar claims filed by cities and condominium associations — remain unresolved.