May 18, 2024
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By Mahsa Saeidi

It has been one year since the arrival of Hurricane Ian. This week marks one year since Hurricane Ian.

Craig Lipaj, a Tampa Bay homeowner, was told by contractors that his roof needed to be replaced.

The insurance company would not do that.

After they failed, the government took on the claims.

Mahsa Saidi, the 8 on Your side investigator, continues his quest to recovery.

Craig Lipaj is an expert in insurance. Craig Lipaj was an agent of insurance in Ohio for 38 years. Lipaj has been given a crash course in Florida on how the system works, or doesn’t.

Lipaj’s roof, nearly a year after hurricane Ian, is still covered in plastic.

In July, we introduced the North Port resident to you.

He said, “I just want to get treated fairly.”

Lipaj was fighting his insurance company, United Property and Casualty Insurance Company (UPC), for months.

UPC claims that the damage was worth less than $3,000.

Lipaj was not compensated because his deductible had been higher. UPC declared itself insolvent a couple of weeks later.

Lipaj stated, “I believe UPC is going to do nothing but deny and delay.”

Lipaj’s claim was taken over by the state through FIGA, Florida Insurance Guaranty Association. FIGA engineers are now finished with their inspections. The damage was six times greater than UPC, or more than $16,000.

Lipaj remains devastated.

He said, “No roofer can find tiles that match, because they no longer make these.”

Lipaj claims FIGA said the roof could be repaired. The roof will not be replaced.

Lipaj stated, “I would love to fix the roof if I had the ability.”

He said, “I had five roofers examine it.” All five roofers agreed that this roof was impossible to repair.

8 on Your Side has been in contact with Corey Neal. Executive Director at FIGA. FIGA doesn’t recommend roofers very often. This time they will give us some names of roofers in Lipaj.

Neal explained that because the organization was a non-profit one, there were no incentives to deny a claim. Our $16K is based upon the opinions of an engineer certified by the American Society for Engineering Education who inspected the roof and determined that the damage was caused solely by Hurricane Ian, within his policy coverages.

The next option would be the DFS Mediation Program, where both parties submit their documents to back up their estimations to the mediator who then helps to resolve the dispute. We prefer this option because we want to settle the dispute as soon as possible in order to focus on unresolved UPC cases.

The plight and struggles of Lipaj will be followed by 8 On Your Side.

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