Hurricane Ian victim told roof can be repaired, but roofers say it must be replaced


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — This week marks one year since Hurricane Ian. It also marks a year since the frustrations began for so many storm victims.

Contractors told Tampa Bay-area homeowner Craig Lipaj that his roof must be replaced.


His insurance company wouldn’t do it.

Then, after they went under, the state took over the claim.

8 On Your Side Investigator Mahsa Saeidi continues to follow his battle to recover.

Craig Lipaj knows insurance. He was an insurance agent for 38 years in Ohio. Now, Lipaj is getting a lesson in how things work, or don’t work, in Florida.

Nearly one year after Hurricane Ian, Lipaj’s roof is still wrapped in plastic.

We first introduced you to the North Port resident in July.

“Basically, I just want to be treated fairly,” he said.

For months, Lipaj had been battling his insurer: United Property and Casualty Insurance Company or UPC.

Despite dozens of missing and damaged tiles, UPC claimed there was less than $3,000 worth of damage.

Lipaj’s deductible was higher, so he got nothing. Just a few weeks later, UPC was declared insolvent.

“I think UPC’s thing was we’re just going to deny, deny, delay,” Lipaj said.

The state, through the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association or FIGA took over Lipaj’s claim. Now, FIGA’s engineers have finished their inspections. They found way more damage than UPC — six times more — more than $16,000 worth of damage.

But Lipaj is still devastated.

“No roofer could even, number one, find the tiles to match up, they don’t make them anymore,” he said.

Lipaj says FIGA told him the roof can be repaired. They will not pay to replace it.

“If I could repair the roof I would be happy to repair it,” Lipaj said.

“I’ve had five different roofers look at it,” he said. “And all five of them were unanimous, there’s just no way this roof is repairable, it’s impossible.”

8 On Your Side is in touch with Corey Neal, Executive Director of FIGA. Typically, FIGA does not recommend roofers. However, this time, they’ll give us a couple of names for Lipaj.

“Our organization is a not-for-profit, so there is no incentive to not pay a covered claim,” Neal said. “Our $16K offer is based on the opinion of a certified engineer who recently inspected this gentleman’s roof to determine damage caused only by Hurricane Ian within the policy coverages he purchased.”

“The next option is the DFS mediation program, in which both parties present their documentation to support their estimates to the mediator, who helps resolve the dispute. This is our preference since we would like to resolve as quickly as possible so that we can focus on other unresolved UPC claims.”

8 On Your Side will continue to follow the plight of Lipaj.

If you have a tip or comment for investigator Mahsa Saeidi, email her at MSaeidi@WFLA.com.



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