POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – It felt like nowhere in Florida was left untouched when Hurricane Irma battered the state coast to coast, from the bottom to the top.
In Winter Haven, the storm left a utility pole on top of Jamie Brown’s 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix. “Appeared to only be the back window being completely smashed out, a little bit of rain coming in,” she said.
Jamie contacted her insurance company, Allstate, to see how they could help. “The first person I spoke to, she said, Mrs. Brown we are going to make your vehicle back to the pristine condition that it was prior to the damage,” she recalled.
She took pictures of the damaged car and filed a claim using the Allstate Mobile App. The company told her an adjuster would stop by. That changed.
“She said well, we’ll probably go ahead and have it towed to a location to have an assessor look at it, ” Jamie explained. “I didn’t question that.”
What she didn’t know is that a few days before the tow, Allstate had already totaled her vehicle. Brown made the discovery when she came home from work and her car was gone.
“I came home and there were drag marks in my yard and into the roadway. My car had been taken, they didn’t have the keys they didn’t have the title they didn’t have my permission to take it,” said Jamie.
Her Grand Prix was towed on Monday. On Tuesday, Jamie said an adjuster told her the claim had just crossed her desk.
“I asked her immediately how can you just receive my claim Monday afternoon, when my car was totaled a few days ago and her exact words to me were, ‘The state of Florida has declared all vehicles damaged during the hurricane as totaled and they will not be returned to the owners,'” Jamie recalled. “I said that makes no sense to me, absolutely no sense.”
It didn’t make sense to us either.
We reached out to Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation and got the following response from OIR Communications Director Amy Bogner:
“The Office is unaware of any declaration by the State of Florida or any statement that might be construed to require vehicles damaged by Hurricane Irma to be totaled or salvaged.”
When we contacted Allstate, April Eaton, the National Media Team Manager told us she knew of no such declaration.
“Our top priority when a customer files a claim is to work closely with that customer and settle claims fairly,” Ms. Eaton wrote in an email. In Jamie Brown’s case, “We determined the damage from the street light and pole was so extensive that it was not economically feasible to repair the vehicle. We settled the claim as a total loss in order to help our customer begin the recovery process.”
“I spoke to numerous people along the way and not one of them not one told me that I was going to have a totaled vehicle,” explained Jamie.
OIR suggests if you need assistance with insurance claims, contact the Department of Financial Services, Division of Consumer Services at 1` 877 693-5236 or by email at Consumer.Services@myfloridacfo.com.
If you have something that you think should be investigated contact our Target 8 Helpline at 1 800 338-0808.
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