Photo of Chip Merlin

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.

Traveling away from loved ones for business is never easy. I was at a restaurant co-owned by public adjuster Brandon Lewis and his wife, Marta, following a Georgia Association of Public Adjusters (GAPIA) meeting. Marta asked me if I ever got tired of all the travel. I told her I did not travel as much as I once had, but it is part of the business I have chosen. I told her that it helps when Donice travels with me as often as she does. She lamented and asked Brandon how he could be at home more.

Continue Reading Brandon Lewis—Public Adjuster Spotlight

The question for most policyholders following a property loss should be, “Which public adjuster do I hire?” rather than “I had a loss, what do I do now?” The vast majority of policyholders will benefit from hiring a very competent public adjuster following a loss. I made this point in my book, Pay Up!:

Continue Reading Policyholders Should Carefully Check Public Adjuster Credentials Before Hiring a Public Adjuster

“If they do not ask, do not tell.” That is the culture of some insurance carriers when it comes to explaining all the benefits available under additional living expense provisions of an insurance policy. Some carriers simply do not train their property insurance adjusters on those policy benefits so that they are ignorant about how many benefits and options are available under the policy, which could otherwise benefit policyholders. 

Continue Reading How Personal Lines Carriers Fail to Properly Advise Customers After a Total Fire Loss About ALE Benefits

Our law firm library is brimming with insurance company chronicles from books published long ago by the insurance industry. In these, company executives of yesteryears boasted about the swiftness with which they compensated their claimants. They painted pictures of drained company treasuries and the extraordinary efforts of their claims staff, working overtime to ensure prompt payments. These tales often shined a light on a business ethic that put the policyholder first.

Continue Reading Why the Property Insurance Industry Is Dominated by Bean Counters —Why Is Your Hurricane Ian Claim Underpaid and Delayed

It has been one year since Hurricane Ian. If you have not completely resolved your claim, you need to see a lawyer about your rights. Public adjusters and contractors working on Hurricane Ian claims should say the same thing. One year is just too long for a settlement not to have been made, and insurers have had enough time to work with non-legal professionals to get their jobs done right. 

Continue Reading The One Year Anniversary of Hurricane Ian—What Do Policyholders Now Face? 

Proof of loss deadlines are always a little tricky when the case law is not clear. For the Maui wildfire victims with an insurance policy that requires a proof of loss to be filed within 60 days from the date of the loss, my suggestion is to be safe rather than sorry and obtain an indefinite extension to file a proof of loss. 

Continue Reading The 60-Day Proof of Loss Deadline in Hawaii

Some insurance companies seem to foster a troubling culture by employing legal counsel who approach their roles with arrogance and condescension, often to the detriment of the very policyholders insurers have a good faith obligation to serve. In my early years of practice, I briefly served as an external legal counsel for insurance companies, which I noted in Butler Pappas–A Familiar Foe. I distinctly recall that during this period, State Farm explicitly instructed its external lawyers not to mistreat its customers. This directive is a testament to the leadership of State Farm at that time, ensuring that both its internal staff and external partners treated customers, especially those with disputes, with the utmost respect.

Continue Reading Can a Policyholder Sue the Insurance Company’s Lawyer Who Wrote the Denial Letter?

The best bets are those that are guaranteed winners, as they aren’t truly bets at all. Insurance companies would prefer a scenario where it’s “heads I win, tails you lose.” One doesn’t need an actuarial degree to understand that collecting premiums on risks that will never result in payouts is a profitable strategy.

Continue Reading Can an Insurer Collect Premiums and Waive Coverage Defenses of Vacancy?

I saw Justin Skipton of Skipton Claims Management at a United Policyholders fundraising event in California last week. I recalled Amy Bach from United Policyholders mentioning how impressed she was with Justin at a recent National Association of Insurance Commissioners meeting. My mind then wandered to this thought: “What was it like working with David Skipton?”

In one of my presentations, I display a picture of David Skipton, informing the audience that he epitomizes someone who has undergone significant personal growth and development. Since our first meeting, his expertise in persuasion, personal interaction, and knowledge has soared due to his commitment to self-improvement. David obtained the CPCU and SPPA designations and even wrote a book, Broken Promises. However, I was curious about what David Skipton was like as Justin’s boss before witnessing this transformation.

Continue Reading Justin Skipton—Public Adjuster Spotlight

When it comes to insurance law, the Florida legislature epitomizes Florida Man. Wikipedia describes Florida Man as follows:

Florida Man is an Internet meme first popularized in 2013, referring to an alleged prevalence of people performing irrational, maniacal, illogical, delusional, insane, and absurd actions in the U.S. state of Florida. Internet users typically submit links to news stories and articles about unusual or strange crimes and other events occurring in Florida, with stories’ headlines often beginning with ‘Florida Man…’ followed by the main event of the story. Because of the way news headlines are typically written, they can be creatively interpreted as implying that the subjects of the articles are all a single individual known as ‘Florida Man.’

Continue Reading Florida Man—Appraisal in the Brand New World of Initial, Additional, Supplemental, and Re-Opened Claims