It has been a year since Hurricane Ian wreaked havoc on so many lives, and for homeowner Craig Lipaj, the frustrations have only continued to mount. After being told by contractors that his roof must be replaced, his insurance company refused to cover the cost. To make matters worse, the company went under, leaving the state to take over the claim. Lipaj, who was once an insurance agent for 38 years in Ohio, finds himself at odds with the system in Florida. Even after a year, his roof remains wrapped in plastic, with no end in sight. Despite the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA) claiming the roof could be repaired, Lipaj has had multiple reputable roofers tell him it is irreparable. As the battle to recover continues, Lipaj hopes for a fair resolution that will finally put an end to his year-long struggle.
One year since Hurricane Ian
It has been one year since Hurricane Ian wreaked havoc on the Tampa Bay area, leaving many residents to deal with the aftermath of the destructive storm. For homeowners like Craig Lipaj, this milestone is a reminder of the frustrations that began in the wake of the hurricane.
Frustrations for storm victims
After the storm passed, homeowners turned to contractors for assistance in assessing the damage to their properties. In the case of Craig Lipaj, contractors recommended that his roof be completely replaced due to the extent of the damage. This was a recommendation that Lipaj’s insurance company, United Property and Casualty Insurance Company (UPC), refused to comply with, leaving Lipaj feeling frustrated and unsure of how to proceed.
Contractor’s recommendation to replace the roof
When a professional contractor determines that a roof needs to be replaced, it is often a sign that the damage is beyond repair. However, despite this expert opinion, UPC declined to replace Lipaj’s roof, leaving him in a difficult situation.
Insurance company refusal
Lipaj’s insurance company, UPC, rejected the recommendation to replace his roof, instead claiming that the damage was minimal and only amounted to a few thousand dollars. This decision left Lipaj with no recourse and no financial assistance to repair his damaged roof.
State takeover of the claim
Shortly after UPC’s refusal to replace Lipaj’s roof, the insurance company faced insolvency and the state of Florida took over the claim. The Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA) was tasked with handling Lipaj’s claim, bringing new hope for a resolution to his ongoing struggle.
Craig Lipaj’s Battle with the Insurer
Lipaj’s experience as an insurance agent
With 38 years of experience as an insurance agent in Ohio, Lipaj is no stranger to the workings of the insurance industry. However, his move to Florida has presented him with a new set of challenges and frustrations when it comes to dealing with insurance companies.
Roof still wrapped in plastic after one year
Despite the passage of one year since Hurricane Ian, Lipaj’s roof remains covered in plastic, a constant reminder of the ongoing battle he faces. The delay in addressing the necessary repairs has only added to his frustration and disappointment.
Introduction to Craig Lipaj by WFLA
In July, WFLA introduced Craig Lipaj and his struggle to recover from the damage caused by Hurricane Ian. Lipaj expressed a simple desire to be treated fairly, highlighting the emotional toll that the prolonged battle with his insurer has taken on him.
Lipaj’s desire for fair treatment
Throughout the entire process, Lipaj has steadfastly maintained his desire for fair treatment from his insurer. He believes that the damage to his roof is extensive and enough to warrant a full replacement, contrary to UPC’s claims.
Battling with the insurer – United Property and Casualty Insurance Company (UPC)
Lipaj’s ongoing battle has largely been with his insurer, UPC. He alleges that UPC’s strategy of denial and delay has been at the heart of his struggle to have his roof replaced. This approach has only served to compound the frustrations and challenges faced by Lipaj in his quest for fair treatment.
UPC’s claim of minimal damage
UPC’s determination that the damage to Lipaj’s roof was minimal, amounting to less than $3,000, has been met with skepticism and disbelief by Lipaj. The stark contrast between this assessment and the recommendation by contractors to replace the roof has left Lipaj feeling unsupported and invalidated.
Shortly after denying Lipaj’s claim, UPC faced insolvency, leaving Lipaj in a state of uncertainty. The takeover of the claim by FIGA offered Lipaj renewed hope for a resolution to his ongoing battle.
UPC’s strategy of denial and delay
Lipaj alleges that UPC’s strategy throughout the claims process has been one of denial and delay. This approach has only served to prolong Lipaj’s struggle and further exacerbate the damage to his property.
FIGA Takes Over the Claim
Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA) takes over Lipaj’s claim
With the insolvency of UPC, the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA) stepped in to handle Lipaj’s claim. This transfer of responsibility offered Lipaj a glimmer of hope that his case will be handled with greater fairness and attention.
FIGA’s engineers find extensive damage
FIGA’s engineers, tasked with assessing the damage to Lipaj’s roof, concluded that there was significantly more damage than UPC initially claimed. The valuation of the damage amounted to over $16,000, a stark contrast to the minimal assessment made by UPC.
Lipaj’s disappointment despite the findings
Despite the findings of FIGA’s engineers, Lipaj remains disappointed as FIGA maintains that his roof can be repaired rather than replaced. For Lipaj, the unanimous opinion of five different roofers is evidence to the contrary, as they all concluded that the roof is beyond repair.
FIGA’s recommendation to repair the roof
Based on their assessment of the damage, FIGA has recommended that Lipaj’s roof be repaired rather than replaced. This recommendation, while disappointing to Lipaj, reflects FIGA’s determination that the damage does not necessitate a full replacement.
Lipaj’s struggle to find roofers to repair the roof
One of the challenges Lipaj faces is the difficulty in finding roofers willing and able to repair his damaged roof. The discontinuation of the tiles used on his roof and the unanimous consensus of roofing experts that the roof is beyond repair has made finding a viable solution a daunting task.
FIGA’s Response to Lipaj’s Concerns
Contact with Corey Neal, Executive Director of FIGA
8 On Your Side reached out to Corey Neal, the Executive Director of FIGA, to address Lipaj’s concerns and shed light on FIGA’s perspective on the matter.
FIGA’s response to Lipaj’s claim
FIGA reiterated that their valuation of the damage is based on the opinion of a certified engineer who recently inspected Lipaj’s roof. Their determination is rooted in the policy coverages Lipaj purchased and the specific damage caused by Hurricane Ian.
Certified engineer’s inspection and estimation
A certified engineer who inspected Lipaj’s roof played a crucial role in FIGA’s assessment of the damage. Their inspection and estimation formed the basis for FIGA’s determination to recommend repairs rather than a full roof replacement.
Recommendation of roofers by FIGA
Typically, FIGA does not recommend specific roofers; however, in Lipaj’s case, they have agreed to provide a couple of names to assist him in finding potential contractors for the recommended repairs. This gesture expresses FIGA’s commitment to helping Lipaj navigate the challenging process of finding suitable roofers for the job.
Mention of the DFS mediation program
In their ongoing efforts to resolve the dispute as quickly as possible, FIGA mentioned the option of the DFS mediation program. This program involves presenting documentation and estimates to a mediator who can help facilitate resolution. FIGA expressed a preference for this route to ensure a prompt resolution while also allowing them to focus on other unresolved UPC claims.
Continued Coverage by 8 On Your Side
Follow-up on Lipaj’s situation
8 On Your Side remains committed to following the plight of Craig Lipaj and providing updates on his ongoing battle with his insurer. This ongoing coverage highlights the importance of resolving disputes between homeowners and insurance companies and sheds light on the challenges faced by storm victims in the aftermath of natural disasters.
Importance of resolving the dispute
Lipaj’s struggle serves as a reminder of the importance of resolving disputes between homeowners and insurance companies in a fair and timely manner. The delay in addressing his claim and the ongoing frustration he experiences underscore the need for improved processes and communication within the insurance industry.
Contact information for investigator Mahsa Saeidi
For any tips or comments related to Craig Lipaj’s situation or other investigations, 8 On Your Side investigator Mahsa Saeidi can be reached via email at MSaeidi@WFLA.com. This contact information offers a direct line of communication for individuals who may have information to contribute or wish to share their own experiences.