TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — More than 100 days have passed since Hurricane Ian ripped off Joe Fox and Amira Antelo’s roof, leaving their home severely damaged—and they are still waiting for their insurance to come through.
It’s a race against the clock. The two have been living and working in an RV on their property in Port Charlotte, but they will lose that soon.
Fox and Antelo said contractors gave them bids to repair the roof, flooring and drywall, but their insurance company was not approving repairs or returning their phone calls.
“This is our first time dealing with an insurance company,” said Fox. “Disaster.”
“It’s just been a nightmare,” Amira said. “I call five, six, seven times, sometimes, a day and our adjuster goes straight to voicemail.”
“Anxiety is really through the roof and it’s very difficult when you can’t get any answers,” Fox added.
Fox and Antelo called 8 On your Side for assistance, and investigator Mahsa Saeidi has been working to get the the help they desperately need.
The couple had wind damage coverage through Heritage Insurance. Since homeowners’ insurance doesn’t cover floods, they had a separate policy for flood protection through a different company.
“As soon as we filed the claim, of course, Heritage is like, ‘Well is it flood?'” Amira recalled. “They’re like, ‘How do you know it’s not a flood?’ And I’m like ‘Because we can see the sky through the roof gap.'”
“It’s just water penetration through the roof,” Joe said.
8 On Your Side called Heritage, talked to multiple representatives over the phone and explained the couple’s dilemma.
“They need the insurance company to approve the work,” Mahsa told a representative.
They told us to follow up via email. We did for two weeks, but they never responded. However, Amira says the company immediately took action and got in touch with her.
She said the insurance case manager started giving her daily updates about their claim and plans to get the drywall taken care of first.
They said the insurance company also cut them a check for the loss of personal items, which they should get in a few days.
The couple feels the delays put their life on hold, and the process should be streamlined.
“I would be happy if there’s just a light shining on what insurance companies are doing to people like us,” said Amira.
In the meantime, other storm victims have reached out to 8 On Your Side, telling us they’ve had issues getting temporary housing.
Amira says Heritage Insurance is paying for their temporary RV, but their request was only approved after she filed a complaint with the Florida Department of Financial Services.
If you’d like to share your experience with your insurance company, send Mahsa an email at MSaeidi@WFLA.com