Call Us Today


Subscribe to our newsletter

Facebook pageFollow us in TwitterLinkedIn ProfileView Author's Justia ProfileGoogle Plus ProfileSubscribe to this blog's RSS feed



Special accommodations protect artwork, exotic cars, precious metals from hurricane damage in South Florida

NPR recently reported about the importance of taking extra precautions to protect expensive artwork, jewelry, exotic cars and other valuables in the event of a hurricane in south Florida.

The need has even led to something of a growth industry: Just as the need for extra space led to the boom of the self-storage industry in the 1960s, so has the need to protect exotic valuables from storm damage led to businesses like Museo Vault, a business aimed at protecting high-priced assets like artwork or cars.
Our Miami insurance dispute attorneys encourage you to determine the coverage needs for expensive items in your home and take steps to make sure that you are properly covered in the event of a hurricane. Conversely, if you are dealing with an insurance company that refuses to pay a legitimate claim to which you are entitled, contact our office to discuss your rights.

NPR reports Miami’s booming art reputation has led to a cottage industry of art galleries and other businesses that specialize in handling, shipping and storing art. The idea for Museo Vault cane after the busy 2005 hurricane season.”The topic of conversation was how to keep artwork safe in this environment where we have five or six months of terrible hurricane storms that come through,” said owner David Lombardi.

Museo Vault advertises itself as a facility designed to withstand the 200 mph winds generated by even the most powerful hurricanes. Art is stored at least 35 feet off the ground to protect it from even the most aggressive storm surge.

Art collectors also know that a solid hurricane protection plan can be required by insurance companies.

A similar facility, RoboVault, has also opened up in South Florida. The facility has an area for story wine and seven enclosed garages with a robotic arm that can store and retrieve exotic and antique cars.

That facility also provides storage for gold, silver and other precious metals.
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.

Cooler temperatures over Lake Okeechobee signal beginning of dry season; not end of hurricane season in South Florida

The Miami Herald reports that the South Florida rainy season has ended a bit early this year and La Nina could bring a dryer than normal dry season.

Many South Florida residents have breathed a sigh of relief this week, as cooler air, lower humidity and nice breezes have ushered in that most glorious time of year between summer’s dreadful heat and the arrival of our winter friends and the heavy non-stop traffic that comes with the winter tourist season.
Our Miami insurance dispute attorneys do want to remind you, however, that the area remains a prime target for hurricanes through the end of November. As we reported recently on our Florida Insurance Claim Lawyer Blog, the halfway point of South Florida’s hurricane season is Sept. 21 — with half of the storms to hit the area in the last 160 years coming after that date.

Now is a good time to review your hurricane supplies. Perhaps you have snatched the bottled water over the course of the summer. Maybe the extra propane went into service during the Labor Day cookout. Restocking a few supplies now can save you a big hassle in the event that the area falls into the path of an approaching storm. Shopping with the mobs is never any fun and this “late” in the season you may also find local stores unprepared and understocked.

The National Weather Service said last week that South Florida has entered dry season, officially signaled by falling dewpoints and a dip into the 60s over Lake Okeechobee. It comes two weeks earlier than its Oct. 17 average and the earliest since 1995.

La Nina’s warmer sea temperatures in the Pacific Ocean could also make it a drier than normal dry season. Such weather raises wildfire risks and has also been a primary reason for the busy storm season, which finds us naming Tropical Storm Otto, the season’s 15th named storm, even as we talk about the beginning of dry season.

South Florida’s rainy season fell about 10 percent short of its normal 26.78 inches. The wet season, which usually begins in June, typically produces about 70 percent of South Florida’s rainfall.

Again, authorities stressed that the beginning of dry season does not mean the end of hurricane season, which lasts through Nov. 30. Hurricane Wilma, the last storm to hit South Florida, struck in late October 2005. Hurricane Kate struck the Panhandle just before Thanksgiving, 25 years ago this year.
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 Homeowners Should Know the Difference between Wind Storm and Hurricane Deductibles

Many homeowners are unaware of the significant difference in deductibles their homeowner’s policy may carry for wind damage versus hurricane damage. Nor do they realize that a hurricane damage deductible may be triggered by the presence of a storm elsewhere in the state.

Our Miami storm damage attorneys encourage homeowners dealing with significant damage claims to consult our office for a free consultation. Policies can be confusing, often intentionally so, and homeowners cannot always expect to be treated fairly by their insurance company.

As we reported on our Florida Insurance Claim Lawyer Blog, the passage of Tropical Storm Bonnie marks the real beginning of the 2010 South Florida storm season. Understanding your policy deductibles can help you understand your economic exposure in the event of a serious storm. Doing so now may even allow you to make changes. Once the Florida Peninsula falls into the path of a tropical storm or hurricane, it will be too late; polices cannot be issued or changed until after a storm passes.

In general, a homeowner usually has very manageable deductibles for wind damage, often just $500. But hurricane deductibles of 10 percent are common, which would be $20,000 on a $200,000 house.

What even fewer homeowners realize is that an insurance company may apply a hurricane deductible to wind damage that occurs elsewhere in the state. For example, a hurricane in Miami that spawns a tornado in Fort Myers, will result in a hurricane deductible. By law, the issuance of a hurricane watch or warning by the National Weather Service puts all properties in the state under hurricane deductibles.

Additionally, the hurricane deductible is in effect up to 3 days after a storm. When the length of the pre-storm watch is taken into account, homeowners may be subject to hurricane deductibles for nearly a week at a time during the threat of a hurricane.

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.

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.

Four Named Storms in the Last Week; Risk Managers say Florida’s costliest October Hurricanes formed in Similarly Busy Years

News Channel 7 in Panama City is marking the 15-year anniversary of Hurricane Opal this week — the storm blasted that area in October of 1995, causing nearly $3 billion worth of damage.

Our Miami storm damage attorneys continue to report that the area remains at high risk for tropical storms and hurricanes through October and November. We reported recently on our Florida Insurance Claim Lawyer Blog that nearly half of the state’s hurricanes occur after Sept. 21, the official mid-point of South Florida hurricane season.
Risk Management Solutions, a risk modeler used by the insurance industry, notes that the most recent October hurricane was Hurricane Wilma, which struck Florida in October 2005 and caused 11.3 billion in damages, making it the fourth-costliest storm in U.S. history.

RMS notes that both Opal and Wilma occurred during the only two other hurricane seasons that had as much storm activity as we have seen thus far this year.

Most recently, ABC25 in Palm Beach Gardens reports that Tropical Storm Otto has formed in the Atlantic. A week ago, we were dealing with the threat of Tropic Storm Lisa. The alphabetical list of this year’s storms means 4 named storms have formed in the Atlantic in the last week. The storm could become a hurricane by the weekend. While it is expected to stay well away from South Florida, heavy rainfall and high winds are possible in the northern Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

The hurricane season officially ends on November 30.
Consider Your Options. Contact Us Today.

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.

Insurers tightening guidelines on homeowner’s discounts in South Florida

An article in the TC Palm tells only part of the story regarding hundreds of thousands of dollars in discounts on homeowner’s insurance that are apparently disappearing.
The Palm reports that the state required insurers to offer double discounts for hurricane-safe structures after Wilma battered the area in 2005. And that the law changed after 2008 and 2009 to stem fraud and standardize the state’s home insurance discount guidelines. The paper said hundreds of thousands of homeowners hired inspectors to see if they qualified for discounts and after several years of hefty discounts, insurers reported that premiums were no longer keeping up with costs.

In reality, what happened is that the discounts being pushed by the state did prompt homeowners to hire inspectors. But what really drove the discounts was the fact that many insurers wrote policies that, by default, did not provide discounts for very standard features in most newer Florida homes, including fortified roof trusses. As inspection reports began trickling in, newspapers, including The News-Press in Fort Myers, began reporting that insurance premiums were being cut in half in some cases, thereby causing a flood of homeowners to seek inspections and apply for the discounts.

So the glut of discounts was not driven by the state’s double-discount after Wilma. But that did prompt inspections, which revealed that many homeowner’s policies were being written as if the homes were built in the 50s and 60s. In reality, most Florida homes are less than 20 years old and were eligible for many of the storm-resistant discounts that are almost standard with modern construction.

Having been caught at their own game, insurers began howling that homeowners with the tenacity to apply for the discounts for which they had always been eligible, were now cutting into profits.

In other cases, insurers were claiming that homeowners were fraudulently claiming improvements for discounts. Changes this year make it a crime for inspectors to provide false information about upgrades and require inspectors to include photographs of each qualifying upgrade and the signature of a licensed engineer, architect or contractor to verify accuracy.

The paper reports that other insurers have started going back to verity discounts are legitimate and, in some cases, removing discounts. Our Miami insurance claims attorneys find it ironic that insurers routinely point to staffing issues as the primary reason for lengthy claims resolutions. But now apparently have the staff to sort through thousands of discount claims that they have been forced to deal with by virtue of not notifying homeowners of their eligibility for discounts in the first place.
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.

Florida Gubernatorial Candidates Discuss Private Property Insurance Reform

palm trees.jpgRick Scott, the current Republican candidate for Florida Governor, has released his position on the state’s insurance company, according to the Miami Herald. Scott is calling for the government run program to be “actuarially sound.” He is also declaring that Citizens should be turned into the insurer of last resort in the state and for further deregulation of Florida’s insurance markets.

Alex Sink, Scott’s opponent, and current Democrat candidate for Florida Governor, also believes that Citizens needs to become financially sound and should also become the insurer of last resort.

Scott’s campaign stated that because Citizens is currently on shaky financial ground, a major disaster would place taxpayers at financial risk. However, putting Citizens on solid financial ground may require policy holders to pay greater premiums. Senator Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, says he was informed back in 2009 that rates would triple for Citizens’ policy holders if the State decided to charge actuarially sound rates.

Sen. Fasano also brought to light a major side effect of making Citizens’ financially sound. Foreclosures are likely to increase with higher insurance premiums, especially in this current real estate climate.

Both Scott and Sink each want to reduce insurance fraud. Specific proposals address insurance fraud issues such as programs designed to provide homeowners with incentives for hurricane-proofing improvements.

Scott’s plan does have its detractors. Democrats argue that his plan is a giveaway to the insurance industry and that Republican contentions that raising insurance rates will ultimately lead to lower rates is ludicrous.

Ultimately, the system does need some sort of change because a major hurricane could have a devastating effect on not only Citizens insurance, but Florida as a whole.
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.

South Florida Homeowner Claims for Hurricane Wilma Damage due by Oct. 24 – Consult an Attorney before Filing

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel is reporting that the deadline to file an insurance claim for damage caused by Hurricane Wilma is Oct. 24.

That’s the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Wilma and will also trigger Florida’s five-year statute of limitations to file a lawsuit for property insurance claims. Our Miami insurance claims lawyers offer free consultations to anyone who is struggling to be justly compensated for hurricane or other storm-related damage in South Florida.
Thumbnail image for 432689_palm_tree.jpg
Michael Barry, vice president of media relations for the Insurance Information Institute, said “some insurers, depending on their policy language, may be willing to review a claim filed beyond the five-year deadline.”

We say, “don’t count on it.” Your window is just about closed when it comes to seeking the compensation you deserve for South Florida’s last major hurricane. If you have not done so by now, you should consult an attorney immediately, any claims filed or resubmitted at this point will likely miss the deadline if and when the claim is denied. Many claims have been delayed because insurance companies have told homeowners that damages didn’t meet deductibles or were otherwise ineligible. In other cases, homeowners may have accepted inadequate payment, not realizing the extent of the damage.

Insurers paid out about $9.2 billion on more than 1 million Wilma claims made by homeowners, business owners and automobile owners, according to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.

Never ones to rest when a better deal might be had by greasing the political machine in Tallahassee, representatives of the insurance industry backed legislation this year that shortened the time allowed to file windstorm claims to three years. Lawmakers obliged by passing the measure but it was vetoed by Gov. Crist.
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.

South Florida under Tropical Storm Warning as Lisa forms near Cuba

The sixteenth Tropical Depression (TD16) of the Atlantic hurricane season formed Tuesday morning south of Cuba and will likely hit South Florida over the next 48 hours.

Our Miami storm damage attorneys continue to report that South Florida has entered the height of hurricane season. Just last week on our Florida Insurance Claim Lawyer Blog, we reported Lisa was named the area’s 12th storm.
The latest storm will be named Nicole if it strengthens as forecast. Tropical storm warnings have been posted for much of South Florida, the Florida Keys, Cayman Islands, Cuba and much of the Bahamas.

The Miami Herald reports significant wind, rain and flooding are expected over the next few days. The storm is currently 390 miles south-southwest of Miami and is moving north-northeast at 10 mph.

The storm is expected to pass through South Florida on Wednesday, before making its way up the East Coast, where it could be a threat as far north as Washington, D.C. Presently, the storm has sustained winds of 35 mph, well below the 74 mph needed for hurricane strength but just shy of the 39 mph need for tropical storm intensity.

Tropical Depression 16 is surrounded by very warm waters and should strengthen into a Tropical Storm before reaching South Florida. Its encounter with Cuba will likely prevent it from reaching hurricane strength before passing over Florida. However, the National Weather Service is predicting at least 3 to 5 inches of rain over South Florida.

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.

October-November, No Time to Forget about the Risks of Hurricanes and Storm Damage in South Florida

The South Florida hurricane season is nowhere close to being over, and residents need to remain vigilant even as they turn their attention toward fall and the upcoming tourist season, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

Our Miami storm damage attorneys have provided a number of resources for homeowners on our Florida Insurance Claims Lawyer Blog, including tips on preparing for a hurricane in South Florida.
As we head into fall, residents too often put concerns about hurricanes behind them. In realty, this past week — Tuesday Sept. 21, to be exact — was the midpoint of hurricane season In South Florida. Since records began in 1851, 20 hurricanes have struck the area before that date, and 21 have struck after.

“Basically, this means that October is still busy for us, while activity quiets down in other parts of the Atlantic basin,” said meteorologist Robert Molleda of the National Weather Service.

In fact, October has been South Florida’s most active month in terms of hurricanes, with 19 striking the area in the last 159 years. September saw the second-highest number, with 15.

Memorable hurricanes in October include Hurricane Wilma in 2005, Hurricane Irene in 1999 and Hurricane King in 1950.

In August, famed hurricane prognosticator William Gray predicted 18 named storms, including 10 hurricanes and 5 major hurricanes this season. NOAA called for 20 named storms, including 12 hurricanes, six of which would be major hurricanes. Tropical Storm Lisa’s formation on Tuesday puts the season’s current count at 12 named storms, including six hurricanes, five of which have been classified as intense.

In October, the Atlantic hurricane season does begin to wane, but storms are more likely to form in the warm waters of the Caribbean. The official end to the hurricane season is Nov. 30, although storms are still likely to form in November and even into December.
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.

Visit Our Other Blogs





Contact Us

No Fields Found.

Recent Entries

Florida Business Litigation Attorney
rated by Super Lawyers