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Flood Claims – It is Imperative to Submit a Timely Sworn Proof of Loss

flood.jpgOne of the most important components of any flood claim is to ensure the timely submission of a sworn proof of loss. Flood policies typically impose a strict requirement that any sworn proof of loss must provided within 60 days. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that most litigation involving flood claims centers on whether or not the insured complied with the time requirements to submit a sworn proof of loss timely. Courts across the nation have uniformly concluded that an insured’s failure to comply with the conditions precedent to filing suit, such as the timely submission of a sworn proof of loss, will bar an insured’s ability to make a financial recovery under the policy. In other words, even though the insured paid thousands of dollars to buy a flood policy, if the insured fails to submit a timely sworn proof of loss, recovery will be barred. Moreover, an important component of the proof of loss requirements is that the insured is also required to furnish certain information to the flood carrier in support of the insured’s proof of loss. The documentation provided must strictly comply with the flood policy in order for the insured to make a financial recovery. Simply put, the insured must provide the insurance company with some means by which to verify the amounts claimed in the insured’s sworn proof of loss. And that documentation must also be provided timely, and at the time the sworn proof of loss is filed with the insurance carrier. With that said, the sworn proof of loss requirement has tripped up an astonishing number of claimants attempting to compensation for their loss. If suit is filed then the insurance company will file a motion for summary judgment arguing that the insured failed to comply with the policy terms. And more often than not, the insurance company will prevail at that motion for summary judgment thereby precluding recovery for the insured. With that said, contact us today to discuss your flood claim. —– EXTENDED BODY: Consider Your Options. Contact Us Today. Before opening our law firm in 2006, our attorneys worked for some of the state’s, and nation’s, largest law firms, and worked representing the insurance companies for years. Our attorneys are now uniquely positioned to use that experience to assist individuals and businesses alike throughout Florida with their insurance claims. As a result, our attorneys are well versed in the impact insurance has on businesses, condominiums, and individuals alike. Our insurance litigation practice group is prepared to tackle your insurance claim. Given our extensive experience litigating for, and against, insurance companies, our insurance litigation practice group is prepared to provide aggressive, efficient and effective representation on a broad spectrum of insurance claims in Florida for local, national, and international clients. We are prepared to advocate insurance claims at the pre-suit stage, trial, appellate and arbitration levels. Call us today toll free at 1-866-518-2913 or at 305-263-7700.

Coastal Populations Grow Yet Storms are Growing Stronger

coastal-damage.jpgEveryone seems to want to live on the beach. As a result, coastal populations now make up 40% of the total population. Yet our nation’s coastal region only consists of 10% of the Country’s total land area.

If current trends continue, the U.S. coastal population could reach 134 million in 2020, up from 123 million in 2010.

And while Americans continue to flock to the coasts, the costs of disasters increases with every household that moves there. That risk is also carried by the rest of the nation’s underwrites who asses that risk and offer insurance coverage.

Part of the reason why the National Flood Insurance Program is so far in debt is because over the last several decades our coastal areas have been repetitive targets for natural disasters. And the strength of those natural disasters have only increased.

In Florida alone over 16,000 properties have been lost, multiple times because of flooding; meaning the public has paid to rebuild them each time. However, its not just beach condos and waterfront homes, most of the population simply can’t afford to move, so they’re forced into the high risk areas, low-lying areas that see repeated flooding.

The population numbers and trends recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau should help guide policymakers who shape regulations governing coastal development.

But with hurricane season upon us, now is the time for all Floridians to start assessing their hurricane preparation plans. Especially for all Floridians that live on our beautiful coast line.

The Aftermath of Tropical Storm Isaac in South Florida – What Do You Do If Your Property Was Damaged or Flooded? What About Your Business?

tropical_storm_issac,_generic_medium.jpgTens of thousands of homes and businesses remained without power Monday across South Florida as the remnants of Tropical Storm Isaac continue to wreak havoc for South Florida residents and businesses alike.

Heavy rains, and hail, have caused wide spread flooding and property damage. Strong wind gusts has caused trees to fall which has resulted in extensive property damage throughout South Florida.

Our storm damage attorneys stand prepared to assist you during this time of heavy rain and chaos. But now is also the time to ensure that you remain pro-active to protect yourself, your property and your business.

This significant weather event may have caused damage to your home, your property, or even your business. It is of critical importance that your damage be properly documented.

Start by taking photographs of the damages and properly inventorying your damage. Damage to your personal contents is of particular importance since it could be both time consuming and emotional to document.

Also, please take the necessary efforts to stop any further damage with your property as a result of the wind and rain coming from Tropical Storm Isaac. Keep all receipts and paperwork associated with such efforts and any emergency repairs you may need to take.

It will also be critical to determine whether or not your claim is a result of flooding, or wind. This distinction is critical to understand and in assessing your rights and applicable coverage available to you as a result of the damage sustained thanks to Tropical Storm Isaac.

What about your business? Well, if you have a business interruption policy then you may have coverage available to you as a result of Miami-Dade County Mayor’s decision to issue an evacuation order for people living in mobile home parks, unsafe structures, and areas prone to flooding. He also closed the Port of Miami.

As a result of this Order, businesses have been ordered to close until further notice. Such an order is commonplace when a natural disaster threatens, like Tropical Storm Isaac.

If your business purchased standard business income coverage then it is likely that your policy provides coverage for any loss of income caused by the Mayor’s decision to issue an evacuation order and close the Port of Miami.

Our firm stands ready to assist with your property damage needs and to battle with your insurance company to ensure proper compensation for your insurance claim. Whether you are a resident with damaged property, or a business owner who has sustained an interruption to your business as a result of Tropical Storm Isaac, call us today for a free consultation.

Understanding Your Insurance Coverage – Lessons Learned from Tropical Storm Debby Regarding Windstorm and Flood Coverage and How it Can Impact Your Insurance Claim for Property Damage

flood.jpgTropical Storm Debby left a rain soaked imprint in Tampa and Jacksonville. The slow moving storm caused extensive flood damage throughout the state of Florida.

Indeed, Tropical Storm Debby raked the Tampa Bay area with high winds and heavy rain Monday in a rain soaked drenching that caused widespread flooding, and clobbered Jacksonville.

The interesting part of Tropical Storm Debby is that many homeowners are now in the process of submitting insurance claims to their insurance companies. However, many are shocked to learn that their homeowners’ policy does not cover flood damage.

We handled flood claims back in 1999 and 2000 here in Miami when Hurricane Irene and the no-name storm flooded South Florida with heavy rains and massive flooding. It was frustrating to see how many home owners simply did not have adequate insurance coverage to cover the extensive flood damage caused by those storms in such hard hit areas like Sweetwater and Southwest Miami-Dade County.

The issue of flood insurance can leave South Florida homeowner’s with huge headaches. Homes determined to be in a flood plain are required to have flood insurance in addition to a regular homeowner’s insurance policy. But yet many still don’t have flood insurance today.

This is particularly troublesome when you consider that insurance companies providing windstorm coverage will typically attempt to blame storm damage on flooding, thereby relieving themselves of the obligation to pay. This was common after Hurricane Katrina, when insurance companies decided they would pay for missing roofs, but not homes destroyed by the resulting water damage.

Consequently, a Miami insurance claims lawyer should always be called to handle significant damage claims. Accepting partial claims and signing waivers or other paperwork are just two ways a homeowner can quickly find themselves in trouble when dealing with an insurance company.

Additionally, you should check today to make sure that you have adequate insurance coverage. Contact your insurance agent to review your scope of insurance coverages. You should also ensure that you have purchased flood insurance too. Flood insurance is relatively inexpensive. With flood insurance, you can fill the “gap” of coverage that the insurance companies will no doubt create in an effort to avoid paying certain claims should a major storm strike South Florida.

Rainy Season Causing Massive Flooding and Property Damage

flooded-room.jpgIf you haven’t already noticed – it’s rainy season in South Florida. According to the National Weather Service, “[t]he daily cycle of showers and thunderstorms which defines the South Florida rainy season has begun earlier than normal this year.” Ordinarily, our rainy season has a start date of May 20th; however, Mother Nature decided to show up early this year by giving us torrential downpours on May 8th.

On May 23rd, Miami saw record breaking numbers. For example, Miami International recorded approximately 9 inches of rain. Per the Sun Sentinel, the recorded rainfall shattered a long-standing record.

Miami, and South Florida in general, already witnessed above average rainfall during the dry season. The dry season, which ran from October 20th to May 7th, gave Miami 22.95 inches of rain, which is close to four inches above the norm.

The irregular patterns have also given use two named storms before the start of Hurricane season, which is June 1st. Alberto and Beryl have caused, and in Beryl’s case continues to cause, severe thunderstorms, flooding, and rain along the east coast. Beryl was very close to becoming a full fledged hurricane, reaching speeds of up to 70mph before making landfall near Jacksonville, Florida.

Hurricane, wind, and rain damage are a common occurrence across South Florida. It creates havoc on residential and commercial properties alike. Our attorneys have experience dealing with these weather-related losses in South Florida. If you own a home or business that has experienced damage as a result of rain or wind, please contact us today.

Remember, failure to timely report the loss to your insurance carrier could result in a denial of your claim. Remember, our attorneys are here to assist you – do not hesitate to contact us today.
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The heavy rains may have also caused water damage to your property. Water damage is one of the most commonly cited reasons in any property insurance claim. After heavy rains such as the ones we just experienced this past weekend may result in some form of damage to your property.

Despite the fact that water damage is a common cause to assert a property insurance claim, not all claims for damages due to similar causes will be paid by insurance companies. In fact, claiming on home insurance against water damage can be complicated, and tricky. If you have sustained damage to your property as a result of the recent heavy downpour, then you should contact our office today for a consultation regarding your potential claim.

Is Your Property Flooded as a Result of the Recent Record Rain Fall? Here are some Tips to File a Flood Insurance Claim

large_Flood.jpgThe past few days has brought very heavy rain throughout South Florida. Many in Miami-Dade County and Broward County experienced terrible weather. The heavy rains even caused some flash flooding in many areas throughout South Florida as a result of seeing as much as 9 inches of rain in some areas. Especially hard hit are areas that are historically prone to flooding like Sweetwater and Doral. Indeed, these are areas are under water today after some very heavy rain fall recently.

The heavy rains may have also caused water damage to your property. Water damage is one of the most commonly cited reasons in any property insurance claim. After heavy rains such as the ones we just experienced this past weekend may result in some form of damage to your property.

Despite the fact that water damage is a common cause to assert a property insurance claim, not all claims for damages due to similar causes will be paid by insurance companies. In fact, claiming on home insurance against water damage can be complicated, and tricky. If you have sustained damage to your property as a result of the recent heavy downpour, then you should contact our office today for a consultation regarding your potential claim.

Here are some tips to assist you in properly documenting your water damage claim as a result of the heavy rain fall:

• Photograph the outside of the premises, showing the water damage or flooding. Also, photograph the inside of the premises, showing the damaged property and the height of the water if your property was flooded.

• Don’t delay in notifying your insurance company promptly of your damage. Delay in reporting the claim could result in a denial of the claim. This includes notifying both your flood insurance company, if you have flood insurance, as well as your home insurance. You will likely need to prepare some documents required by the insurance company to move the claim forward, and one of our professionals can assist you with the claim process.

• Separate the damaged from the undamaged property and put it in the best possible order for the insurance adjuster’s examination. If reasonably possible, protect the property from further damage.

• Fully cooperate with any and all reasonable requests made by any authorized representative from the insurance company as part of their claims investigation.

• Damaged property which presents a health hazard or which may hamper local clean-up operations should be disposed of. Be sure to adequately describe and photograph discarded items so that, when the adjuster examines your losses and your records, these article are included in the documentation.

• Good records speed up settlement of your claim. Compile a room-by-room inventory of damaged goods, and include manufacturer’s names, dates and places of purchases, and prices. Try to locate receipts or proofs of purchase, especially for major appliances, and note manufacturers’ names, serial numbers, prices, and dates of purchase.

Rain Rain Go Away. Has All This Rain Caused Damage To Your Roof, Property, or Business? Call Us Today To Discuss.

rain_fall.jpgSouth Floridians have not seen the sun in days due to all this rain. It has been raining non-stop in South Florida since the weekend.

The consistent and persistent rain that has been hounding South Florida over the past several days has taken its toll. The ground is saturated and there are puddles and standing water nearly everywhere.

There is also the potential for widespread flooding and a flood advisory is in effect for the Florida Keys extending into the South Florida mainland.

Given the uncertain weather conditions, we could find development of isolated tornadoes and waterspouts.

Weather reports indicate that Wednesday should be the last day of all this nasty wet and wild weather for South Florida. An approaching cold front will push all of this moisture away and bring cooler temperatures.

The heavy rains, flash flooding, and tornadoes, may have also caused damage to your property. Water damage is one of the most commonly cited reasons in claims on home insurance. After heavy rains such as the ones we are experiencing currently, and experienced a few weekends ago, may result in some form of damage to your property.

The first signs of water damage might seem trivial. But warnings like water stains on the ceilings or a leak under the kitchen sink can lead to real problems, like a weakened roof or rotten floorboards. A burst pipe can even damage your furniture and other personal possessions.
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Consider Your Options. Contact Us Today.

If you are facing a dispute over an insurance claim in Florida, contact Alvarez & Barbara, LLP at 305-263-7700 or toll free at 866-518-2913 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Did the Heavy Weekend Rains Damage your Home or Property?

PMN_rain_wideweb__470x386,0.jpgThis past weekend was essentially a big wash out for South Florida. Many in Miami-Dade County and Broward county experienced terrible weather. Consequently, the heavy rains caused some flash flooding in many areas throughout South Florida as a result of seeing as much as 6 inches of rain in some areas.

The heavy rains may have also caused water damage to your property. Water damage is one of the most commonly cited reasons in claims on home insurance. After heavy rains such as the ones we just experienced this past weekend may result in some form of damage to your property.

Did you know that water damage is one of the most commonly cited reasons in claims on home insurance? This should not come as a total surprise considering the many possible causes of water damage – heavy rain, bursting of pipes, and the bathtub accidentally overflowing.

Despite the fact that water damage is a common claim, not all claims for damages due to similar causes will be paid by insurance companies. In fact, claiming on home insurance against water damage can be complicated, and tricky. If you have sustained damage to your property as a result of the recent heavy downpour, then you should contact our office today for a consultation regarding your potential claim.

The first signs of water damage might seem trivial. But warnings like water stains on the ceilings or a leak under the kitchen sink can lead to real problems, like a weakened roof or rotten floorboards. A burst pipe can even damage your furniture and other personal possessions.
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Consider Your Options. Contact Us Today.

If you are facing a dispute over an insurance claim in Florida, contact Alvarez & Barbara, LLP at 305-263-7700 or toll free at 866-518-2913 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Flood insurance Critical in South Florida Coastal Regions but can Complicate Claims

A Florida Congresswoman is among those supporting a five-year extension of federal flood insurance in an effort to return some stability to the volatile coastal insurance markets.

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen supports the Flood Insurance Reform Priorities Act, which would extend federal flood insurance for five years. Recently, the act has been extended for just a few months at a time, causing much instability in coastal housing markets.

The issue of flood insurance can leave South Florida homeowner’s with huge headaches. Homes determined to be in a flood plain are required to have flood insurance in addition to a regular homeowner’s insurance policy. FEMA flood maps, which were recently updated, appear to have been drawn by a drunken surveyor instead of the state-of-the-art surveying equipment available to the government. And now the government is making the required insurance available only in sporadic fits and starts due to the usual political merry-go-round in Washington.

But where homeowners are frequently hurt is when an insurance company attempts to blame storm damage on flooding, thereby relieving themselves of the obligation to pay. This was common after Hurricane Katrina, when insurance companies decided they would pay for missing roofs, but not homes destroyed by the resulting water damage. A Miami insurance claims lawyer should always be called to handle significant damage claims. Accepting partial claims and signing waivers or other paperwork are just two ways a homeowner can quickly find themselves in trouble when dealing with an insurance company.

About 90 percent of all flood insurance nationwide is provided through the government’s program and nearly half of those policies are held in Florida. The gaps in coverage have left Florida homeowners unable to close sales on properties, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

“Prospective homebuyers must be given the assurance that they can buy and sell without worrying about the unpredictability of availability of flood insurance,” said Ros-Lehtinen. “This bill presents a positive step in regaining confidence in South Florida’s beleaguered housing market.”

In some cases, those with existing policies have also been unable to renew their coverage during recent lapses in the government’s insurance program. The 5-year extension has passed the House and moves on to the Senate, where its fate remains uncertain.

In all, the government’s flood insurance program covers 5.6 million properties valued at $1.2 trillion.

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If you are facing a dispute over an insurance claim in South Florida, contact Alvarez & Barbara, LLP toll free at 866-518-2913 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

South Florida Residents should Know their Rights when Dealing with Flood Insurance

Channel 10 News in Tampa is the latest to report on the ongoing saga involving the federal flood insurance program.

As our Miami insurance dispute attorneys reported on our Florida Insurance Claim Blog, Congress has extended the program in fits and starts, often just a few months at a time. When the program is unavailable, it causes huge headaches for homebuyers, who cannot qualify for a mortgage without flood insurance.


Further complicating the matter, are new FEMA maps that have been decried as inaccurate and frequently require flood insurance of homeowners in areas with no history and little real threat of flooding.

While South Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Letinen is among the supporters of the program, it has come under heavy fire for questionable payouts. Additionally, about 1 million policies are riskier than their premiums would suggest, leaving taxpayers to foot the remainder of the bill.

FEMA records show about 20,000 properties have collected on claims in excess of their value — sometimes far in excess of their value. Channel 10 reports on a $153,000 Alabama home that has received more than $2 million in claims.

Others are receiving discounts for rental or vacation properties. In Longboat Key, a wealthy resort area near Sarasota, a direct hit from a hurricane could cause an estimated $13 billion in damages, yet nearly half (48 percent) of homeowners receive discounts because the homes are not their primary residences.

In other cases, homeowners file claims storm after storm for recurring damage to the same poorly situated and vulnerable property. Pinellas County has reported $72 million in repetitive claims; Pasco County has had $32 million. Statewide, more than $1.3 trillion in repetitive claims have been paid out.

Currently the flood insurance program is $19 billion in the red.

From a practical standpoint, the issues with the flood insurance program can make it more difficult for a homeowner to file a legitimate claim; may increase the risk of a denial; and can subject legitimate claims to excessive wait times. Consulting a storm damage attorney in South Florida is often your best bet when dealing with a substantial insurance claim.

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If you are facing a dispute over an insurance claim in Florida, contact Alvarez & Barbara, LLP toll free at 866-518-2913 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

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