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Miami Florida Insurance Claim Law Blog

Hurricane Michael's devastation continues a year later

Hurricane victims in northern Florida are raising the alarm that they continue to face severely difficult conditions one year after Hurricane Michael hit land. The Category 5 storm devastated rural communities and small towns throughout the Florida Panhandle as well as hitting some larger cities, such as Panama City and Port St. Joe. Even though the hurricane hit land in October 2018, residents continue to live in hotel rooms, trailers and tents as of fall 2019. Many buildings have not yet been repaired, and fallen trees continue to dominate the landscape in some places. Thousands of people have left the heavily impacted communities, especially due to the economic damage caused by the storm.

Agricultural crops like peanuts, timber and cotton were devastated by hurricane damage. In addition, homeowners continue to struggle with insurance companies that are denying or delaying payouts on their hurricane insurance claims. Due to the shortage of housing, affordable homes are few and far between, driving residents away from the area and leading to an even deeper economic crisis. In addition, public buildings also continue to show signs of devastation from the storm. Many children are attending school in trailers and other temporary buildings due to hurricane damage to their original school buildings.

City sewer system damaged by Hurricane Michael

One Florida city is continuing to face massive bills to repair its water and sewer system damaged by Hurricane Michael. Panama City, the largest city hit hard by the Category 5 storm, has suffered ongoing sewage leaks. According to local reports, over 65,000 gallons of raw sewage ran through streets and ditches through the town and into area streams and waterways. The city manager said that there would be costs of $200 million to $300 million to revamp the water and sewer systems to prevent future spills. While officials said that the problems' origin predated Hurricane Michael, the storm damage caused even more serious devastation.

Hurricane Michael has been called a forgotten storm because the damage it unleashed on major sections of Florida has gone largely unnoticed. Many of the areas hit hard were small towns and communities, away from major centers of political power or media attention. Hurricane damages remain in many areas with roads and buildings continuing to suffer from the effects of the storm. In many cases, people have left impacted communities and not moved back due to the devastation, slow repairs and a lack of affordable housing.

Thousands of Hurricane Michael insurance claims are still open

More than 18,000 insurance claims filed over property damage caused by Hurricane Michael last October have yet to be settled, according to Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier. The information was disclosed during a Senate Banking and Insurance Committee panel on Sept. 17.

According to Altmaier, 18,211 insurance claims, or around 12% of the total claims filed after the Category 5 storm, are still open. Of those claims, around 50% are thought to be reopened claims intended to recover repair bills that were higher than the initial insurance payout. He also reported that the state's Office of Insurance Regulation had received few complaints from policyholders regarding Hurricane Michael claims, meaning that insurers appeared to be doing a good job of satisfying customers.

Watch out for bad faith claims after a hurricane

You knew that a hurricane was on its way, and it was clear that all the steps you could take to prevent your home from being damaged weren't likely to be enough. The winds were strong, the rain was harsh and the damage that resulted was devastating.

After the winds die down and the rain stops, you return to your home and see the devastating consequences of a hurricane. You and many others in your neighborhood and region may be considering filing claims for the damage that was caused. You're not alone, but you do have to be cautious when working with insurance agents.

Many homeowners lack flood insurance

Many Florida homeowners have dropped their flood insurance policies, despite continuing to face serious risks from hurricanes and other storms that could lead to significant floods. Tens of thousands of people could be at risk of financial devastation in case a hurricane or storm causes flooding. Traditional homeowners' insurance policies do not usually cover damage caused by flooding. During Hurricane Dorian, 59 different counties were subject to evacuation order. While homeowners in these counties held 734,445 flood insurance policies in 2011, that number had declined to 508,731 policies by 2019.

In some cases, homeowners may have switched from federally provided flood insurance to a private insurance company. There has been a national downturn in flood insurance policies, especially as premiums become more costly. Homeowners struggling to make ends meet often drop their flood insurance despite the risk of devastation if there is a flood. Premiums have been changing to reflect the massive expenses associated with floods, and discounts have come to an end. However, as a result, some homeowners find it extremely difficult to pay these costly premiums and keep up with their other bills.

Hurricane costs for insurers could lead to higher premiums

UBS analysts studying the damage and expected damage of Hurricane Dorian predicted that insurers would have to raise their prices in Florida and elsewhere. Estimates for damages arising from natural catastrophes in 2019 reached $70 billion. Analysts anticipate that these high costs could diminish excess capital.

Meteorologists have labeled Dorian as the second-strongest Atlantic hurricane to date. The storm caused significant damage to the Bahamas, and UBS analysts increased their base estimate for total damages at $25 billion for the region. According to weather models, costs might reach as high as $40 billion. Damage costs at this level place solvency capital in jeopardy.

Understanding hurricane damage claims and what is covered

Florida is a pleasant place to live due to the warm and agreeable climate, but its location leaves it vulnerable to hurricanes. Being victimized by a hurricane can result in property damage. Residents of the state should be aware of many factors involved with the unfortunate nature of being in a hurricane's path. A significant portion of preparation is having sufficient insurance to pay for damage and loss. Even people who believe they are adequately protected can be surprised when there is an insurance claim denial after a hurricane. Preparation is key.

There is hurricane damage that insurance does and does not cover. In general, insurance will protect owners and renters from certain types of damage. There will be recovery for rebuilding the property to the insurance limit. It will also cover detached parts of the property like a garage for approximately 10 percent of the insurance total for the structure.

Florida CFO holds event to facilitate hurricane claim payments

Many Florida families who filed insurance claims after Hurricane Michael might still not have received payment. At the end of June, 21,000 claims remained open.

In response to this, the chief financial officer for Florida conducted an event on Aug. 16 and 17 designed to allow consumers to work face-to-face with their insurers to resolve these claims. The Hurricane Michael Insurance Consumer Village was held at Gulf Coast State College. Before the end of the day on Saturday, the CFO said they had worked toward coordinating 22 insurance companies and arranged for over $2.2 million in relief. The CFO stressed that this relief was coming from the insurance companies and not from taxpayers.

Why work with a construction attorney?

You're not happy with the construction team you're working with in Miami, and you're worried that your concerns haven't been taken seriously. That's why you're considering turning to a construction attorney for help. Some people have suggested that you can handle the situation on your own, but you're not sure. What should you do?

The best thing is to have a consultation with a construction attorney who can help you determine how to handle the situation. Here are a few reasons to work with a construction attorney.

Over $600K in hurricane claims paid at Insurance Village event

The Chief Financial Officer for the State of Florida announced that insurance companies wrote checks totaling $631,000 at a recent Insurance Village event. Hosted by Gulf Coast State College, the Insurance Village brought together agents from 22 insurance companies so that people could inquire about their Hurricane Michael insurance claims. The CFO reported that agents met with 144 people.

Some of them had lost everything in the category 5 storm that hit the state last year. Many of them were looking for answers about why they had not yet been paid. The CEO of Universal Property and Casualty said that litigation had delayed the completion of many claims; although, other reasons accounted for delays.

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