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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.

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.

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