A Jacksonville homeowner says he still owes his insurance company ,000.  The company disagrees
A Jacksonville homeowner says he still owes his insurance company ,000.  The company disagrees

NASSAU COUNTY, FL – A Nassau County judge recently criticized a Florida insurance company after he said it was obstructing policyholders and ignoring court orders.

Court records show dozens of complaints have been filed against Universal Property & Casualty Insurance in Duval and Nassau counties for underpaid claims and lack of communication.

It’s the same company that Jessica Parola worked with as a first-time homeowner after a slab leak uprooted her life.

“Where will I cook? How will I eat? You know, it’s like, the only thing going is the microwave. I have nothing. I can’t wash dishes. I can’t drink water,” Parola said.

It wasn’t long before she made the biggest purchase of her life and called her insurance company.

Parola hired a public adjuster to help her with the claim. The proof of loss statement and citations from her contractor estimated the damage to her home at $25,000.

However, Parola said she only received $8,000 from UPICIC. She also said the company tried to close the claim after the initial payment was issued.

“I feel like it’s been underpaid and kind of overlooked,” Parola said. “We’ve sent emails, we’ve had no response, we’re just asking for a negotiation, you know, to negotiate a price for it, which is what needs to happen.”

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This issue affects policyholders across the state, but a Nassau County judge recently lost patience with dealing with Universal in court.

The dispute in the lawsuit came from a Fernandina Beach couple.

The judge sanctioned Universal, accusing them of “blatantly resisting discovery,” demanding answers from the company, forcing them to drop their case and referring Universal’s attorney to the bar for disciplinary action.

The judge also wrote in his order: “This is without a doubt the most outrageous act of willful violation of court orders and professional duties that the court has seen during its tenure.”

Peter Laframbrose is the public claims adjuster helping Parola fight its claim. He said it sometimes takes weeks, if not months, to hear back from the insurance company.

Florida law states that an insurer has “7 calendar days” to respond to or acknowledge communications involving claims.

“There’s a big delay in communicating with claims, you know, why wouldn’t they recognize the assessments and all the documents that we had uploaded into their system?” Laframbrose said.

News4JAX contacted Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company to ask why Parola is stuck waiting for the money she needs to repair her home. A lawyer for the company wrote:

“This initial payment does not include the final claim payment and additional additional payments may be made. On the other hand, the company disagrees with the assessment provided by the public regulator. As an example, this policy applies to condominiums, and Florida law outlines the separate responsibilities of unit owners and condominium associations for different parts of the property. Among other considerations, the public adjuster’s assessment appears to include amounts for property repairs that are the responsibility of the condominium association. The public regulator’s assessment components and related considerations such as those mentioned here are under active review.’

Travis Miller, attorney for Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company

The company disagrees that Parola’s claim is worth $25,000, but acknowledges that the case is still pending.

The lack of communication has left Parola without enough money to finish renovating her home. She still hopes to negotiate with the company.

“We really hope that someone on their behalf will contact us to try to resolve this claim. You know, she can put everything back together and go back to a normal lifestyle,” Laframbrose said.

Copyright 2024 by WJXT News4JAX – All Rights Reserved.

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