Since 1983, Chip Merlin has served as a plaintiff’s attorney with a focus on commercial & residential property insurance claim disputes and bad faith insurance litigation. Chip is a noted national authority on insurance bad faith, lecturing to national trade groups and publishing a number of papers and articles on the subject for organizations such as The American Association for Justice, The Florida Justice Association, The Windstorm Insurance Network, and Trial Magazine.

As founder and president of Merlin Law Group, Chip has dedicated his practice to the representation and advocacy of insurance policyholders in disputes with insurance companies nationwide.

Chip served as Chair for the Bad Faith Insurance Litigation Group and Secretary for the Fire and Property Insurance Litigation Group for the American Association for Justice (formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America). He was also Vice-Chair for the Subcommittee on Property Insurance Law for the American Bar Association.
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Property insurance coverage cases provide lessons for others to follow. A recent Oklahoma federal court decision1 following a fire loss reflects why my book, PayUP!, suggests that public adjusters should be considered for retention shortly after any significant loss. The language from the opinion that caught my attention was the following: Continue Reading Court Implies That Policyholders Are Better Off With Professional Claims Help

The property insurance claims industry is increasingly turning to independent adjusters rather than company adjusters. The number of independent adjusters calling, texting, and literally confessing to me about unethical conduct has exploded over the last few years. My thought is that insurance companies are hiring independent adjustment firms and then placing financial pressure on those entities to reduce claims severity. Insurers trying to make their financial claims goals will simply hire a competitor of the independent adjusting firm if those numbers are not met. Those independent adjustment companies, in turn, have their claims managers place more emphasis upon closing claims for less than what is owed—damn regulatory ethics requirements and good faith treatment. Continue Reading Do Independent Property Claims Adjusters Need More Legal Protection From Unethical Managers

Today’s blog is not going to endear me to HAAG, Rimkus, JS Held, and other regularly retained forensic engineers working for insurance companies. These engineering and consulting firms are big business. So much so that Sedgwick, a large independent adjusting firm, has acquired a number of these engineering firms. I can imagine many of you wondering how an adjusting firm representing the insurance company’s interest can obtain an independent and honest opinion under such circumstances. Continue Reading The Plague of Wrong and Insurer Worded Engineering Reports by Insurance Company Retained Engineers

Florida does not recognize a first-party bad faith cause of action at common law. Instead, it has a statutory scheme where a formal notice (CRN) must be sent that provides the specific statutory provisions which are violated, the relevant policy language relevant to violations, and the facts giving rise to the violations. Then, the insurance company gets 60 days to cure the defects of its actions. Continue Reading Florida’s Bad Faith Scheme Requires a 60 Day Notice Including Facts

Why aren’t the federal flood insurance limits at least equal to the amount which the Federal government backs Fannie Mae mortgages? Why haven’t federal flood limits on residential policies kept up with inflation? Why do they stay the same for over a decade? And why isn’t the increased costs of compliance coverage up to $100,000, so people can rebuild to the new flood standard? Continue Reading FEMA 50% Rule Hits Hurricane Ian Victims—Why Don’t We Double Federal Flood Limits and Triple ICC Coverage?

An article in the Insurance Journal, New Hampshire Body Shop Owner ‘Winging’ Own Case Beats State Farm in High Court, about an assignment of benefits (AOB) case caught my attention. State Farm’s attorneys lost to a non-lawyer in New Hampshire’s Supreme Court.1 The dollar dispute was overwhelmed by the practical implications of the case. The article noted in part: Continue Reading Assignment of Benefits Post Loss—New Hampshire Looks To Policy Language

A Florida public adjuster called and asked if a Hurricane Ian national flood insurance proof of loss had to be filed within 60 days. That answer is “no,” as explained in Hurricane Ian Flood Proof of Loss Deadline Extended. FEMA extended the deadline for 365 days. Continue Reading Public Adjusters May Have One Year To Submit Hurricane Ian Federal Flood Claims Proofs of Loss But Still Have To Make Written Estimates Within 60 Days

The Florida Bar has taken a very proactive stance regarding wrongful solicitation of Hurricane Ian and Nicole policyholders. The Florida Bar filed an emergency Petition today for suspension of a Florida attorney working for an out of state law firm. The Petition alleges, among other items, deception in the solicitation of Hurricane Ian claimants: Continue Reading Florida Bar Acts Against Wrongful Solicitation—Claimants Should Hire Reputable Attorneys With Credentials