Lawsuit: Insurance company denied legitimate Hurricane Irma claims

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Five years ago, Hurricane Irma ravaged parts of the Tampa Bay area. Now a lawsuit alleges, in the aftermath of the storm, one insurer denied legitimate claims, leaving Florida homeowners high and dry.

The lawsuit claims the property insurer, United Property & Casualty Insurance Company (United P&C), was engaged in racketeering. United P&C is one of the largest property insurance companies in the state.

According to the civil lawsuit that was filed in the US District Court for the Middle District of Florida, United P&C is allegedly underpaid or flat-out denied at least 200 legitimate claims in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. General contractor, SFR services, brought the lawsuit against United P&C in January, accusing the insurer of committing multiple acts of fraud.

“Being a former prosecutor, my job is to collect evidence,” homeowners insurance attorney John Tolley, Esq. said.

Tolley says he represents impacted homeowners, and evidence he collected was used to bring the lawsuit.

“UPC was telling their adjusters, no matter what, they were going to deny all of the claims, regardless of it was a valid claim or not,” said Tolley.

“What are you basing this on?” 8 On Your Side Investigator Mahsa Saeidi asked. He responded, “We’ve collected emails, text messages, voicemails.”

Tolley calls one text message the smoking gun in the case. It was allegedly sent by a co-conspirator of the insurance company.

In the text, an adjusting firm manager appears to instruct field crews to say they “cannot determine cause of loss” on late-reported Irma claims.

“They don’t want us to put this in an email,” the alleged text read, in part. The text message, which is mentioned in the lawsuit, goes on to state, “they

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