Trump’s $17 million insurance claim: few remember damage

Payout was made for hurricane damage to Trump’s private club, but differing accounts of the damage have emerged

Insurance News

By Lucy Hook

U.S presidential candidate Donald Trump said he received a $17 million payout for a hurricane-related insurance claim in 2005, admitting that he pocketed some of the money, but few can remember the damage.

Trump received the payment in 2005 after Hurricane Wilma caused damage to Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Palm Beach, Florida, but a report from The Associated Press says it found little evidence of such large-scale damage.

The report claims that Trump acknowledged transferring some of the payout into his own personal accounts, claiming that under the terms of his policy, “you didn't have to reinvest it.”

Describing it as a “very good insurance policy,” Trump admitted that he didn’t know how much had been spent on repairs during a deposition in an unrelated civil lawsuit.

Trump also described the damage to the historic property as, “Landscaping, roofing, walls, painting, leaks, artwork in the — you know, the great tapestries, tiles, Spanish tiles, the beach, the erosion… It's still not what it was.”

But his account of the extensive damage is not matched by some other Mar-a-Lago members, AP reports.
In an interview about the estate's history, Anthony Senecal, Trump's longtime former butler, recalled no catastrophic damage caused by the hurricane.

Senecal said Hurricane Wilma had flattened trees behind Mar-a-Lago, but the house itself only lost some roof tiles, adding, “that house has never been seriously damaged,” the report says.

AP also claims that two weeks after Hurricane Wilma, Trump hosted 370 guests at the club for the wedding of his son Donald Jr.

While part of the event was moved away from the front lawn due to hurricane damage, wedding photographs taken by Getty Images showed the house, pools, cabanas and landscaping in good repair, the report says.
The insurance adjustor who assessed Trump’s insurance claim said there had been damage to Mar-a-Lago's roof and landscaping, but he could not remember details, according to the AP.

Hank Stein of VeriClaim Inc., said there had also been damage to Trump's golf course in West Palm Beach.
Trump declined to provide the AP with records about the insurance claim or answer specific questions about damage at Mar-a-Lago, the report says.

While valuations for the 110,000-square-foot Mar-a-Lago are subjective, a recent Forbes appraisal of Trump’s net worth put the property's value at $150 million.

Palm Beach building department records show no permits for large-scale construction on the site after the hurricane, according to the report. Permits that appear hurricane-related were for $3,000 in repairs to storm-damaged outdoor lighting and the vacuuming of sand from the property's beachfront pool, and some smaller projects, including installation of new grease traps in the kitchen and tree trimming along the road, were documented.

Similarly, records of the city's Landmarks and Preservation Commission reflected no repair work conducted following the 2004 and 2005 hurricane season, the report said.

Details of the hefty insurance payment surfaced in 2007, during a deposition as part of Trump's failed libel lawsuit against journalist Tim O'Brien, whom Trump accused of underestimating his wealth.

Keep up with the latest news and events

Join our mailing list, it’s free!