Entering the Height of Hurricane Season

Written by GGilbert.

There hasn’t been a hurricane to make landfall in the State of Florida since 2005. But we are entering the height of hurricane season, which is officially between June 1st and November 30th. Of the thirty-six major hurricanes to tussle with our State, only one struck before the month of August (Dennis, July 10, 2005). All the others hit the Sunshine State during the months of August, September, and October, including the major hurricanes in the last twenty years that battered South Florida (Wilma, October 24, 2005; Jeanne, September 26, 2004; Frances, September 5, 2004; Charlie, August 13, 2004, and Andrew 24, 1992). Further, over seventy-five percent all recorded storms affecting Florida have been in the months of August, September, and October.

So as we await the path and intensity of Tropical Storm Isaac, or the next storm that puts us in a state of alarm, we should reflect on preparedness. Is your insurance company ready, willing, and able to help when a major storm strikes?

The Miami Herald recently reported that the state-backed property insurer, Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, would, in fact, have enough money to pay its claims after a major hurricane—an Andrew-like storm. “After seven hurricane-free years, Citizens has amassed a giant cash surplus of $6.2 billion” and an additional $8.4 billion in re-insurance to cover claims. The article did not provide details as to whether private insurers are similarly prepared for a major hurricane.

The report continues that, “However, homeowners covered with Citizens may find that getting a claim filed can involve of a whirlwind of litigation, coverage denials and fine-print surprises.” Unfortunately, Citizens seems to be joining other property insurers in this regard.

At the direction of Governor Rick Scott, Citizens has advanced “a series of rate hikes and coverage reductions” in an aggressive campaign to depopulate the number of policies it holds, including coverage limits for other structures, screen enclosures, floor damage, and roof leaks. The coverage reductions could significantly increase out-of-pocket expenses for homeowners depending on the insurance policy issued.

In this climate, it is critical that consumer protections are maintained and strengthened, rather than slashed, so that property owners who seek insurance can obtain adequate coverage for the protection of their property against the fury of these storms and other perils.

The Law Offices of Geoffrey Gilbert are experienced in fighting claim denials, claim delay, and challenging the “fine print” policy exclusions and exceptions on which insurers base a refusal to pay a claim. Our attorneys provide guidance and counsel to policyholders, claimants, and beneficiaries in insurance coverage disputes over residential and commercial property losses. For assistance with your property damage and insurance matter, please contact us to set up a free case evaluation.

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Universal P&C Insurance fined $1.26 mil for claims handling practices including wrongful policy cancellations. http://t.co/4yQhtSLRdb

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