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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.

Alberto? Beryl? Chris? Debby? Our Firm Stands Ready to Help Miami Homeowners if a Named Storm Strikes South Florida

So far this year there have been four named storms, including one hurricane and three tropical storms. Any of these storms are strong enough to do significant damage. However, none of them reached South Florida.

Tropical depressions are storms with winds of up to 38 mph and are identified only by numbers; tropical storms are given names and have winds form 39 to 73 mph and hurricanes have winds above 74 mph.
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Storms so far in 2012 have included:
-Tropical Storm Alberto: Reached speeds of 60 mph and one of the earliest named storms in recent history having formed before the official start of hurricane season.
-Tropical Storm Beryl: Speeds of 70 mph. Beryl made landfall in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. It was the strongest landfall in the United States for any pre-season Atlantic tropical cyclone on record.
-Hurricane Chris: The first hurricane of the season reaching strength of 75 mph.
-Tropical Storm Debby: Reached speeds of 60 mph and dumped a ton of rain on Tampa and Jacksonville.

Our Miami hurricane damage lawyers urge you to take the South Florida hurricane season seriously and properly prepare for the safety of you and your family. Our staff will be available around the clock in the event of a serious storm and can assist you in filing claims or handling disputes with your insurance carrier.

Storms are named in order of the alphabet each year, except for the letters q, u, x, y, and z, which are omitted. Whenever a storm causes serious damage, like Wilma or Katrina, the name is retired and replaced.

Names for 2012 are:

  • Alberto
  • Beryl
  • Chris
  • Debby
  • Ernesto
  • Florence
  • Gordon
  • Helene
  • Isaac
  • Joyce
  • Kirk
  • Leslie
  • Michael
  • Nadine
  • Oscar
  • Patty
  • Rafael
  • Sandy
  • Tony
  • Valerie
  • William

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.

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.

Burst Pipe Insurance Claims Can Be A Nightmare For Miami Homeowners

Coming home to find a busted pipe has flooded your home is one of the biggest disasters a homeowner can face. Being mistreated by your insurance company can add insult to injury and can cost a South Florida homeowner tens of thousands of dollars.

Our Miami insurance dispute lawyers handle busted pipe claims for homeowners. Our attorneys represented insurance companies before 2006, when we opened a firm dedicated to fighting for the rights of consumers. We understand how insurance companies work. And we have the knowledge and experience necessary to represent homeowners in disputes over an insurance claim.
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In some cases, an insurance company may try to claim a busted pipe claim is not covered because it falls under flood insurance. In other cases, the insurer may claim negligence, Act of God or any other means at its disposal to deny a claim and discourage a homeowner from re-filing. The reality is that, aside from a fire, hurricane or other disaster, busted pipe claims can be among the most costly for an insurer to pay.

A homeowner’s failure to pursue a claim can leave a property in severe distress. Aside from the immediate problems, future mold and mildew issues can even render a house unsellable and can have a devastating impact on the long-term financial well-being of you and your family. Depending on the severity of flooding, it may even compromise a home’s foundation or otherwise make it structurally unsound.

In still other cases, a water main or other outdoor pipe may bust, thereby flooding your property. In such cases, an adjacent homeowner, city or municipality may be responsible for making you whole. Such circumstances may not alleviate your homeowner’s insurance of responsibility — the insurer may need to pay your claim and then pursue the at-fault party.

In any of the above circumstances, a bad-faith insurance claim may be brought if it is determined that your insurance company is not treating you fairly and in accordance with its obligations as determined by your insurance policy. If bad-faith on the part of an insurance company is proven, the policy limits can become irrelevant and an insurance company can be liable for the entire amount of damages allowed by law or ordered by a jury verdict.

In theory, the threat of limitless damages under bad-faith law is meant to keep insurance companies honest. In reality, as is so often the case, it only matters if you consult with an attorney who has the knowledge, experience and ability to enforce the law and protect your rights.

Conversely, it is incumbent upon the homeowner to understand policy limits as it relates to water damage, mold contamination and other issues. Frequently, insurers are excluding mold coverage altogether. Often, additional coverage can be purchased for a modest sum if a homeowner takes the time to determine what coverage is needed to protect against such eventualities.

While insurance companies may exclude sewer backups on some standard policies (coverage can be added in most cases for a modest sum), damage caused by broken pipes is typically covered. However, the devil is often in the details. An insurance company may refuse to pay for the pipe repair, citing normal wear and tear or maintenance clauses or exclusions. Damage in a house left unlivable may not be covered to the extent it is caused by a delay in fixing the problem. And, as previously discussed, mold and mildew is an entirely separate issue upon which whole books could be written.
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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.

Danielle? Earl? Fiona? Our Firm Stands Ready to Help Miami Homeowners if a Named Storm Strikes South Florida

So far this year there have been three named storms and two tropical depressions. Any of these storms are strong enough to do significant damage. However, only Bonnie reached South Florida and her impact was minimal.

Tropical depressions are storms with winds of up to 38 mph and are identified only by numbers; tropical storms are given names and have winds form 39 to 73 mph and hurricanes have winds above 74 mph.
569818_tormenta_tropical.jpg
Storms so far in 2010 have included:
-Hurricane Alex: Reached speeds of 100 mph and made landfall in Mexico.
-Tropical Depression Two: Speeds of 35 mph and followed Alex’s path into Mexico.
-Tropical Storm Bonnie: The only real threat so far to South Florida, she reached speeds of 40 mph.
-Tropical Storm Colin: Reached speeds of 60 mph in the mid-Atlantic but never threatened land.
-Tropical Depression 5: Formed off Southwest Florida and wandered through the Gulf of Mexico before breaking apart.

Our Miami hurricane damage lawyers urge you to take the South Florida hurricane season seriously and properly prepare for the safety of you and your family. Our staff will be available around the clock in the event of a serious storm and can assist you in filing claims or handling disputes with your insurance carrier.

Storms are named in order of the alphabet each year, except for the letters q, u, x, y, and z, which are omitted. Whenever a storm causes serious damage, like Wilma or Katrina, the name is retired and replaced.

Names for 2010 are:

Alex
Bonnie
Colin
Danielle
Earl
Fiona
Gaston
Hermine
Igor
Julia
Karl
Lisa
Matthew
Nicole
Otto
Paula
Richard
Shary
Tomas
Virginie
Walter
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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.

Miami is State’s Most Vulnerable Area for Hurricane Damage, according to Study

Miami is the most vulnerable area in Florida for damage caused by a hurricane, according to a new study released this week by Florida State University.

The Miami Herald reports that the Miami area is the most vulnerable of Florida’s 12 population centers. The state capital of Tallahassee is the least vulnerable. Cape Coral is ranked fourth, according to the Fort Myers News-Press.
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The Florida State University study used a new Hurricane Risk Calculator to determine that Miami can expect a Category 3 hurricane once every 12 years on average. As we reported on our Florida Insurance Lawyer Blog, Category 3 storms have winds of 111 to 130 mph.

Tallahassee can expect such a storm once every 500 years. Other high-risk areas were Port St. Lucie, Key West and Cape Coral. The Panhandle, Panama City and Pensacola were a bit less susceptible to wind. While Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville joined Tallahassee as cities that are the least vulnerable.

The list has irritated real estate agents and developers in several of the “at-risk” cities. But the State of Florida is only about 100 miles wide and the reality is that you are paying high insurance rates anywhere in the state because of your risk for a hurricane. In exchange, you expect your insurance company to deal fairly with you in the event that a claim is necessary. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Our Miami insurance claims lawyers urge anyone faced with filing a significant claim to enlist the help of a qualified attorney.

The university’s Hurricane Risk Calculator is a statistic model based on the extreme value theory — that is a theory used to estimate the occurrence of extreme events such as hurricanes Andrew and Katrina. Researchers used wind speed data from the National Hurricane Center dating back to 1851. The researchers said the risk calculator could provide important information to emergency planners, the insurance industry and homeowners.

They said Florida has sustained more than $450 billion in hurricane damages in the last century.

Florida’s top 12 population areas in order of vulnerability:

1. Miami
2. Port St. Lucie
3. Key West
4. Cape Coral
5. Sarasota
6. Pensacola
7. Panama City
8. Daytona Beach
9. Orlando
10. Tampa
11. Jacksonville
12. Tallahassee
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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.

Hurricane Season is Upon Us – Are You Prepared?

hurricane2_thumb.jpgAnother hurricane season is upon us here in South Florida. The pelting rain. The howling wind. The mad rush of weathermen on both local and national TV. The long lines in the gas stations and food stores.

It is difficult to forget the damage Hurricane Andrew caused to South Florida in 1992, and Hurricane Wilma in 2005. It is just as hard to forget the haunting images of what the residents of New Orleans, and coastal Mississippi went through after Hurricane Katrina made land fall in 2005. These hurricanes, and other smaller storms over the years, caused extensive damage to many properties in Florida, and the Gulf states.

The good news, however, is that with modern technology – and yes, those weatherman that appear constantly on TV – we should have at least 3 to 4 days advance notice of an arriving hurricane. It will be important to use that time wisely.

The most cumbersome part of a hurricane is often the aftermath. For instance, after Hurricane Wilma struck South Florida in 2005 there were many parts of South Florida that was left without electricity for days, and many gas stations that could not dispense fuel for weeks.

Therefore, it becomes important to have a plan in place to deal with hurricanes. And your hurricane preparedness plan should include preparations to address the coming hurricane before it arrives, as it is hitting, and after it makes land fall.

For instance, it will be important for you to take photographs of your property, including vegetation, your roof, personal belongings, etc., prior to the arrival of a hurricane. This will allow you to make the strongest case possible with your insurance company should your property be damaged as a result of the hurricane.

More importantly, you should have ample supplies to last you through the hurricane and beyond. The National Hurricane Center recommends including these items in your hurricane survival kit:

– Water – at least 1 gallon daily per person for 3 to 7 days
– Food – at least enough for 3 to 7 days
– non-perishable packaged or canned food / juices
– foods for infants or the elderly
– snack foods
– non-electric can opener
– cooking tools / fuel
– paper plates / plastic utensils
– Blankets / Pillows, etc.
– Clothing – seasonal / rain gear/ sturdy shoes
– First Aid Kit / Medicines / Prescription Drugs
– Special Items – for babies and the elderly
– Toiletries / Hygiene items / Moisture wipes
– Flashlight / Batteries
– Radio – Battery operated and NOAA weather radio
– Telephones – Fully charged cell phone with extra battery and a traditional (not cordless) telephone set
– Cash (with some small bills) and Credit Cards – Banks and ATMs may not be available for extended periods
– Keys
– Toys, Books and Games
– Important documents – in a waterproof container or watertight resealable plastic bag
insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, etc.
– Tools – keep a set with you during the storm
– Vehicle fuel tanks filled
– Pet care items
– proper identification / immunization records / medications
– ample supply of food and water
– a carrier or cage
– muzzle and leash

To learn more, please contact our office today.

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