County settles with former insurance provider over remaining hurricane claims

Gulf County has settled with their former insurance provider, Preferred Governmental Insurance Trust, for $1.45 million over remaining claims from Hurricane Michael. 

This brings Preferred Governmental’s total insurance payment to the county for hurricane damages to $6.375 million.

The board of county commissioners unanimously voted to accept the terms of the settlement in a special meeting called March 7.

“We were able to reach a settlement with the insurance company after 3 plus years,” County Administrator Michael Hammond said in a special meeting called March 7. “I was able to come to an agreement, and I recommend that y’all allow the chairman to sign that three page settlement and release, and we’ll be done with that bad chapter.”

Chairman Sandy Quinn signed the settlement document on March 9.

The county filed more than 300 insurance claims in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. Hammond told the Star in September that about 10 percent of those claims resulted in significant disagreements between Preferred Governmental and Gulf County. 

At that time, the county estimated that more than $2 million was owed by the insurance company. Preferred argued that the number was a little under $1 million.

“We met in the Middle,” Hammond, who was involved in the negotiations, told the Star on Monday.

Hammond said that the county’s main argument centered around the higher than estimated costs of many of the county’s required repairs. 

He continued to say that the county’s high deductible rate also contributed to the county’s large out-of-pocket costs in repairing from the storm.

“What we have not captured, and we still hope we might, would be our deductibles,” Hammond said. “Our deductibles were asininely high. For example, the courthouse – we got nothing to repair the courthouse because our deductible was over $100,000.”

“We went through a painful process to make sure that we could apply to FEMA for the deal.”

In October, the County started with a new insurance provider, the Florida Association of Counties Trust, after cutting ties with Preferred Governmental.

Meet the Editor

Wendy Weitzel, The Star’s digital editor, joined the news outlet in August 2021, as a reporter covering primarily Gulf County.

Prior to then, she interned for Oklahoma-based news wire service Gaylord News and for Oklahoma City-based online newspaper during her four years at the University of Oklahoma, from which she graduated in May with degrees in online journalism and political science.

While at OU, Weitzel was selected as Carnegie-Knight News21 Investigative Fellow among 30 top journalism students from around the country. She also was senior editor managing a 12-person newsroom in coordination with Oklahoma Watch, a non-profit news organization in eastern Oklahoma.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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