NC man warns homeowners about insurance disputes after Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Tuesday marks three years — Sept. 14, 2018 — since Hurricane Florence officially made landfall in Eastern North Carolina. Impacts from the deadly floods are still felt today.

One man has a warning to homeowners about cashing in claims before it’s too late. 

“Hours, days, weeks, that I have invested into this,” said Steve Bell. “And I’m up against the statute of limitations,” he said.  

Bell has gone back and forth with his insurance company since Hurricane Florence damaged his Holly Ridge home in 2018. In North Carolina, an insurance policy is a contract and is subject to a three-year statute of limitations.  

Three years after Hurricane Florence, there is still much work to be done

“There has been significant delays, multiple weeks to months,” Bell said.   

Those delays are reflected in emails, sometimes going up to 90 days without a response from an agent. 

“I felt it very important to share some of the information, lessons learned,” said Bell.   

9OYS reached out to North Carolina’s Department of Insurance, asking why insurance companies can go weeks without responding. A spokesperson says the statute does require an insurance company to acknowledge a claim within 30 days of receipt. For Hurricane Florence, if the insurer denied, in whole or in part, a claim the consumer would have access to the disaster mediation program if the claim was eligible.  

“First and foremost, you have tools available to you as a homeowner provided by the North Carolina Department of Insurance,” Bell said.   

One tool includes access to the disaster mediation program. There’s also an appraisal clause, but Bell has a warning for anyone trying to go that route.  

“The timeline is very important because as part of the appraisal cause for the insurance policy, you have 20 days. I was not able to make that deadline, I had to file an extension,” said Bell.    

Once that three-year deadline hits, Bell says he’s going to take his case to the North Carolina Attorney General’s office. 

Here’s a link to learn more about the appraisal clause in your insurance policy.

Here’s a link to learn more about the Disaster Mediation Program.

You can also call the North Carolina Department of Insurance Consumer Services Division at 855-408-1212 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday to speak to a consumer expert about your issue

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