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Miami Florida Insurance Claim Law Blog

Insurance law changed to curb assignment of benefits practice

Lawmakers in Florida approved a plan designed to restructure and lessen the importance of assignment of benefits, a common practice in the state's insurance industry. The Citizens Property Insurance Corp., which is backed by the state, faces thousands of lawsuits arising from Hurricane Irma claims. As of the end of April 2019, CPIC had 14,091 lawsuits pending against it, which is an increase of almost 14 percent over the 12,363 lawsuits that were pending one year prior.

CPIC had around 420,000 insurance policies in effect as of the end of March 2019, and it had contracted defense work to more than 100 law firms. The insurer said it needs to retain still more defense firms due to new lawsuits from other events.

New Florida initiative provides hurricane preparations

In order to help residents prepare for the next major hurricane that will inevitably make landfall, the Florida Chief Financial Officer started the Prepare Florida initiative. Even in a state where hurricanes make landfall somewhat regularly, many homeowners and other residents do not take the treat of a major storm seriously. This initiative is designed to give people in the state the resources they need to prepare both financially and physically.

The Prepare Florida initiative features a website that includes many different resources, including an Emergency Preparedness Toolkit, natural disaster guide, flood insurance guide, information on the Assignment of Benefits process and tips for how the homeowner insurance claim process works. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is expecting an average hurricane season in 2019, meaning they anticipate about eight named storms to form in the Atlantic.

Congress extends flood insurance program

Florida homeowners have found some temporary relief after the House of Representatives approved a two-week extension of the federal flood insurance program on May 30. This comes after the Senate approved the extension by voice vote the week before. While this vote will extend the National Flood Insurance Program until June 14, ongoing political conflicts have prevented the approval of a $19 billion bill that will cover a range of disaster aid programs. It includes a reauthorization of the flood program.

The delay has come because some Republican members of the House have blocked unanimous consent for the disaster aid bill by objecting as single members. This is happening even though the Republican-controlled Senate has already passed the legislation. With the two-week extension, the flood insurance program can continue to issue policies, a particularly critical measure as the hurricane season approaches. The House Republicans have justified their objections to the bill by saying that some members of Congress are not present in Washington. Despite the objections, the bill is expected to pass in June after the House returns to session on June 3. President Donald Trump has already announced that he will sign the legislation.

Understand the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale

Since you live in an area prone to hurricanes, it's essential that you understand them and the quality of materials that have to be used on your home in Miami to make it safe. To start with, you should get to know the categories of hurricanes.

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale rates hurricanes from 1 to 5 based on the likelihood of causing damage due to high wind speeds.

  • Category 1 storms have winds between 74 and 95 mph. The storms have dangerous winds and can produce some damage, but the likelihood of serious damage is unlikely. Typical homes might have vinyl siding or shingles ripped off.
  • In a Category 2 storm, the winds reach up to 110 mph, and they are extremely dangerous. They can cause damage to well-constructed houses, damaging the roof and siding.
  • Hurricanes are considered major when they reach Category 3. During a Category 3 hurricane, winds reach up to 129 mph and create damaging gales that can damage gable ends and roof decking.
  • Category 4 storms reach wind speeds of up to 156 mph and cause catastrophic damage including roofs being pulled off homes and exterior walls being blown away.
  • Finally, in a Category 5 storm, even the well-framed homes in an area can expect to be destroyed. Total roof failure is common, and walls are likely to collapse.

Survey shows concern about upcoming Florida hurricane season

After several large storms have battered the region in three years, the American Automobile Association surveyed 400 Florida residents to measure their concern about this year's hurricane season that generally starts at the beginning of June. An overwhelming 92% of respondents expressed worry about storms in 2019. A full 19% said that they were more worried about storm damage and flooding than last year.

Despite growing concerns, the survey found that almost one-quarter of residents had not taken any steps to prepare for hurricanes. Disaster planning includes making a family evacuation plan, stocking food and water for several weeks, and checking insurance coverage. Homeowners insurance does not pay for flood damage, but 21% of people surveyed did not know that flood insurance was not included in their homeowners policies.

FEMA urges people to buy flood insurance before hurricane season

The Federal Emergency Management Agency still has open disaster events throughout Florida in the Panhandle and Keys from last year. With the 2019 hurricane season about to begin, FEMA's chief executive of the National Flood Insurance Program publicly called for people to improve their disaster readiness. He reminded people that regular homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage. They should buy flood insurance to reduce suffering after a disaster.

The increasing threat of severe storms because of rising sea levels and climate change motivated his recommendation. With FEMA still reeling from last year's disasters throughout the country, a hurricane strike in Florida could overwhelm an already strained system. Federal officials hope that flood insurance for more homeowners could cut down on demands for disaster recovery funds.

Bill would update surplus lines regulations in Florida

A bill that would modify Florida insurance rules has been moved on to the governor's office for signature following its passage by state legislators. The bill includes a number of provisions related to insurance. It would increase the amount of reimbursement from the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund from 5 to 10% for loss adjustment expenses. It makes clear that workers' compensation applicants do not need to have statements notarized and expands the applicability of discounts for multiple policies in some cases.

The bill, House Bill 301, would also prohibit insured persons from making a civil remedy filing within 60 days after an appraisal, and it would lower the minimum premium amount initially due on auto insurance policies. The insurance industry has said the bill would bring Florida's surplus lines system into modernity. It would do away with a $35 cap on agent policy fees and replace the cap with a reasonableness requirement.

Get ready for an insurance claim before a storm hits

For some homeowners in Florida, the aftermath of a hurricane or other natural disaster may be the hardest part of the storm to get through. However, the process of filing an insurance claim and having it approved doesn't have to be a negative experience. Prior to severe weather occurring, it can be a good idea to take steps to protect a home such as repairing loose shingles or getting gunk out of gutters.

It is also a good idea to seal windows and doors with caulk or weatherstripping to prevent the possibility of rain or other debris getting into the property. In addition to getting a home ready for a storm, it is important to start preparing to file a claim before it strikes. Part of the process is having a conversation with an insurance agent to confirm what a policy does and does not cover.

Florida changes regulations affecting hurricane insurance

In the wake of damage caused by hurricanes that wreak havoc across the state of Florida, residents often sign over their insurance benefits to contractors while on the road to recovery. This practice can often lead to abuse according to many advocates. The state government is attempting to solve this problem by passing legislation that allows homeowners to rescind the assignment of benefits within seven days, or 30 days if the contractor has not begun any work.

The Florida legislation also caps emergency repairs at $3,000 and provides provisions for paying lawyers if litigation arises. Some lobbying groups supported the legislation while others opposed. Many contractors have claimed that consumers will be hurt by having to navigate the complicated insurance process, but representatives from insurance companies have claimed that the legislation will help consumers. Interest groups opposed to the new law are expected to file appeals.

What is roof uplift and what hidden problems can it cause?

When high winds hit Miami, you may think that your home stood up to the abuse fairly well. You don't see any obvious damage. You decide not to file an insurance claim.

Then, the next time that it rained, water started pouring in. It caused extensive interior damage as the water tore through drywall, paint, wood and other building materials. Carpets got ruined. Artwork got destroyed. Expensive electronics sparked and shut down forever.

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