Florida levies $1M fine to insurer over Hurricane Ian claims

By Gary Fineout | 05/13/2024 06:13 AM EDT

This is the largest fine handed down by state regulators in more than a decade.

FORT MYERS BEACH, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 29: In an aerial view, boats are piled on top of each other after Hurricane Ian passed through the area on September 29, 2022 in Fort Myers Beach, Florida. The hurricane brought high winds, storm surge and rain to the area causing severe damage. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

There were nearly 100 times when Heritage did not acknowledge receipt of a claim within 14 days — or an error rate of 30.2 percent. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

TALLAHASSEE, Florida — A Florida property insurer that has been a substantial donor to Florida Republicans has agreed to pay a $1 million fine over how it handled claims from Hurricane Ian, the massive storm that ripped into the state nearly two years ago.

State regulators found Heritage Property & Casualty Insurance violated Florida’s insurance code, including failing to pay or deny claims within a required 90-day period and failing to acknowledge it received communications about claims.

This is the largest fine handed down by state regulators in more than a decade. The last time regulators issued a fine this high was in 2013, when the state fined Universal Property and Casualty Insurance $1.26 million, according to Samantha Bequer, a spokesperson for Insurance Commissioner Michael Yaworsky.


Heritage CEO Ernie Garateix said in a statement that his company had “fully complied” with the market conduct examination into how it handled Hurricane Ian claims from September 2022 — when the storm hit — to February 2023, and that it had taken “significant action to address those concerns in order to better serve our policyholders.”