What does it mean to be a Policyholder’s Advocate™? At Merlin Law Group, it means not only direct representation of policyholders whose claims have been delayed, denied, or underpaid, but also assistance through education, training, and community sharing that indirectly benefits policyholders. To accomplish the latter, Merlin Law Group is proud to sponsor events that indirectly assist policyholders by improving the insurance restoration industry. In other words, help those who help policyholders. To this end, Merlin Law Group is proud to continue our sponsorship of April Hall’s Storm Restoration Contractor Summit (“SRC Summit”) in 2022. As The Policyholder’s Advocate™, we support general contractors and the work they do for policyholders recovering from a storm or catastrophe.
Continue Reading Do Not Miss April Hall’s Storm Restoration Contractor Summit on January 21-23

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that matching is a factual determination rather than a legal coverage issue and can be resolved by the appraisal process.1 This is a huge win for policyholders. I want to give a big shout-out to Merlin Law Group attorney Shane Smith who volunteered her time to work on this case by filing an amicus brief2 on behalf of United Policyholders.
Continue Reading Matching is a Factual Determination and Can Be Resolved by Appraisal

Insurance restoration contractors play an important role in a policyholder’s, and often community’s, recovery following a disaster. Many restoration contractors have contracts calling for them to be paid what the insurance company agrees to pay on a claim. Those same contractors have Assignment of Benefit contracts (AOB’s) to ensure payment of claims monies for the repair work they do. This is a normal method of operation throughout many states after disasters happen. Policyholders want to immediately start with their repairs but have not finalized the amounts owed to do the repair work with their Insurance carriers.
Continue Reading Enforcement Action Shuts Down AOB’s and Contractor’s Negotiations For Repair Costs

So, I have been in the property insurance claims business as an attorney for 16 years. During my time as a policyholder attorney advocate, I have helped thousands of claimants navigate the claims process that I have always described as a gauntlet.
Continue Reading Fire Loss At My Home Makes My Eyes Wide Open About The Emotions Our Clients Feel During The Claims Process—Empathy Through Agony

For a crash course in right to repair issues, one need only perform a brief search of cases involving People’s Trust Insurance Company (“People’s Trust”). When it comes to policies issued by People’s Trust, there seems to be only one thing that people can trust—a Preferred Contractor Endorsement will be included in exchange for a “premium discount.” For various reasons, the Preferred Contractor Endorsement issued by People’s Trust has been labeled a “trap for many homeowners” (see Beaujeaux de Lapouyade’s blog post, Declaratory Judgment Action May Be Forthcoming If An Insurer Invokes Its Right To Repair). In fact, I challenge Florida homeowners to ask their insurance agent to procure a People’s Trust policy that does not have the Preferred Contractor Endorsement—do not be surprised if your agent cannot find such a policy.
Continue Reading Right to Repair: How People’s Trust Insurance Company’s Preferred Contractor Endorsement Leaves Policyholders Over a Barrel

There is a raging legal debate about whether the new Florida statute requiring pre-suit notice is to be applied retroactively. Interestingly, just to be safe, we filed a pre-suit notice and the insurance company, Castel Key, responded by indicating that the statute does not have retroactive application:
Continue Reading Intent to Initiate Litigation Statute in Florida—Does It Apply to Policies Issued Before the Effective Date of the Statute?

Following Monday’s post, Appointment Of Umpires and What Qualifications Matter to a Court?, I was privately reminded that some new forms of property insurance policies may set forth additional criteria for determining the qualifications of appraisers and umpires. I previously mentioned this in a blog, State Farm New Policy Filing In California Should Be Concerning To All In the Property Insurance Industry—An Example Is the New Appraisal Language, where I noted the qualifications for appraisers and umpires in State Farm’s new California property insurance policy:
Continue Reading Umpire and Appraiser Credentials May Be Called For Under New Policy Forms—Always Read The Full Policy

Following up on the recent post, Appointment Of Umpires and What Qualifications Matter To A Court?, Robert Norton from the IAUA ( Insurance Appraisal and Umpire Association) reminded me that I wrote a blog, What is a “Competent” Umpire for a Property Insurance Appraisal. I quoted a lot of authorities in that post about what type of person would be a qualified umpire. Still, I noted the following personal view:
Continue Reading What Are the Qualifications to Be an Insurance Umpire In the Insurance Appraisal Process?

I received a number of comments and private messages about last week’s post, Do Appraisers Legally Need to Be Licensed Adjusters in Florida. One commentator raised the issue about whether umpires have to be licensed as adjusters. That question seemed novel. I cannot find anything suggesting that an umpire has to be licensed. Indeed, the policy does not call for the umpire to be licensed. No regulation on point requires an umpire to be licensed.
Continue Reading Appointment Of Umpires and What Qualifications Matter to a Court?