Many homeowners in the state of Florida often struggle to recoup the money from their insurer after their home has sustained damage caused by a storm, hurricane, or another naturally occurring event, but Donald Trump doesn’t seem to be one of them. Back in 2005, Trump actually received a rather large payout from his insurer after his Mar-a-Lago property in Palm Beach suffered hurricane damage.
Fortune.com said that while Trump was provided with a $17 million insurance payment for the hurricane damage his private club sustained, “The Associated Press found little evidence of such large-scale damage.” In fact, Fortune said that “Trump’s description of extensive damage does not match those of Mar-a-Lago members and even Trump loyalists.” After Trump’s “longtime former butler,” Anthony Senecal was asked about the damage, he was unable to recall anything that was catastrophic. Senecal could only remember seeing some “flattened trees behind Mar-a-Lago, but the house itself only lost some roof tiles” after Palm Beach was hit with two storms, one in 2004 and the other in 2005.
“Palm Beach building department records show no permits for construction on that scale after the storms.”
While there were permits that “reflected smaller projects, including installation of new grease traps in the kitchen and tree trimming along the road,” there weren’t any permits issued for work that amounted to $17 million worth of damage. Fortune says that “the only permits that appeared hurricane-related were for $3,000 in repairs to storm-damaged outdoor lighting and the vacuuming of sand from the property’s beachfront pool.”
According to Hank Stein, a former insurance adjuster who assessed the insurance claim “there had been damage to Trump’s golf course in West Palm Beach and damage to Mar-a-Lago’s roof and landscaping,” but he was unable to recall any other details when asked about the large payout. The source went on to highlight that even the Republican mayor of Palm Beach at that time stated that he “was unable to comprehend $17 million in reimbursable damage.”
With a lack of evidence that indicates $17 million worth of damage was caused to Mar-a-Lago, many began questioning whether Trump had some repairs done without first obtaining a permit. But the source implied that this is highly unlikely as it would have been rather difficult for Trump to get away with such “extensive, unpermitted work.”
What caused the spotlight to shine on Trump’s hefty insurance payout?
The source reported that the “$17 million Mar-a-Lago insurance payment surfaced during a 2007 deposition in Trump’s unsuccessful libel lawsuit against journalist Tim O’Brien, whom Trump accused of underestimating his wealth.” During the case, “O’Brien’s attorneys were permitted to review Trump’s financial records, including some from the Mar-a-Lago Club,” and that is when they came across the insurance payment. It turns out, Trump pocketed a large portion of the check he received from his insurer rather than spend it on repairs. When Trump was questioned about the damage and why kept the money, he said “repairs were ongoing, but acknowledged he could not remember which hurricane had damaged Mar-a-Lago or when it hit.”
Trump also replied to the inquiries by saying, “We continue to spend the money because we continue to suffer the ravages of that hurricane. We’re continuously spending money. It really beat up Mar-a-Lago very badly.” Although Trump’s property insurance business was handled by Pamela Newman who he claimed “took care of it,” many have grown concerned about the large insurance payment he received despite the lack of evidence that proved the property suffered such extensive damage.
Although Donald Trump didn’t seem to experience any sort of trouble after he filed a hurricane damage claim, many find that their insurer doesn’t want to pay their claim or has undervalued their damage. Therefore, if you run into any trouble with your insurer and can’t seem to get the issue resolved, USAttorneys.com is here to connect you with a local Florida insurance lawyer in your city who can assist you with addressing the issue.