What exactly is a Named Windstorm? Many policyholders ask this very question following hurricanes, tropical storms, tornados, and other storms with high winds. A New Jersey Appellate panel recently questioned parties about the purpose of a “named windstorm” definition in insurance policies. This is just the most recent update to the continued saga of New Jersey Transit’s attempt to receive $400 million in insurance coverage under their policies with Lloyd’s of London and other insurance companies stemming from a Superstorm Sandy loss.
Continue Reading What Exactly is a “Named Windstorm?” More Views As Appellate Case Progresses

Rene Sigman – Head of Texas Litigation

Rene Sigman of Merlin Law Group has been appointed to an elite group of attorneys and judges working on Model Case Management Orders designed to streamline insurance cases following natural disasters. The Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System issued a press release which stated in part:

IAALS, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, with the support of a grant from the American College of Trial Lawyers, is leading a new initiative to expedite this recovery process for everyone involved—the victims seeking recovery, the insurance industry, and the legal system. Together with nationally renowned attorneys from all perspectives— including plaintiff and defense, FEMA, the Texas U.S. Attorney’s office, and state and federal judges—IAALS is developing streamlined, pattern protocols for discovery in first-party insurance cases arising from disasters, both natural and man-made.
Continue Reading Rene Sigman Appointed to Committee Determining Model Disaster Litigation Case Management Orders

When FEMA initially announced the Hurricane Sandy claims review process it gave a gleam of hope to those policyholders who had been wronged in the past. However, now over eight months into the program, that gleam of hope has turned into stress and frustration. Once again policyholders find themselves at the mercy of a government agency and disappointed by those who are supposed to come to their aid. Rather than providing an expeditious program designed to cure the many wrongs of the past, the Sandy claims review program has become a cumbersome and protracted process.

Continue Reading FEMA’s “Claims Review Program” Failed Everyone’s Expectations

Eighty percent. Depending on what you are talking about 80% can be a very large number. When you are talking about the percentage of storm victims that were underpaid on their flood insurance claims, the number becomes unthinkable. Still, that’s the number cited by FEMA and quoted in a recent article published by NPR. In addition to that shocking number, the article cited another…. $400 million.

Continue Reading Superstorm Sandy Brings Huge Profits to Insurance Carriers

I wish I didn’t have to write this blog. I say that because although we are the Policyholder’s Advocate, and I’d rather blog about policy issues, case law, and statutes—not about impartiality or fraud regarding a government agency’s handling of the Sandy Review Process. However, these topics are pertinent to the field of law and Merlin Law Group likes to keep you informed on all variables and challenges your claim may face.

Continue Reading FEMA Whistleblowers Speak-Out at Washington, DC Hearing

While we are all preparing for the possibility of Hurricane or (hopefully) Tropical Storm Joaquin hitting the tri-state area, many east coast residents are still recovering from Superstorm Sandy. To assist people who missed the previous September 15th deadline, FEMA has now extended the deadline to re-open your Sandy claim to October 15th. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that any additional flood insurance proceeds up to $20,000 will not be treated as duplicative. This is a major win for policyholders who received relief funding from government agencies. HUD stated that “three out of four National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) claimants have received less than $20,000 in additional compensation from FEMA and will not face any possible repayment.”

Continue Reading FEMA Extends Deadline to Request Hurricane Sandy Claims Review

In most first-party property insurance disputes, experts are frequently required to provide opinions and testimony on the cost to repair a property. An insurance company will often seek to exclude an insured’s expert on the basis that the opinions are not reliable because the expert did not personally inspect the property.

Continue Reading Court Excludes Causation Expert Who Did Not Personally Inspect Property