NOTE: This guest blog post is by Holly Soffer, Esq., a policyholder attorney and General Counsel to the American Association of Public Insurance Adjusters.

Much has changed in the world since my blog on March 24th. Not only are there new phrases in our lexicon such as “Zoom happy hour,” but also the legislative response to COVID-19 Business Interruption claims has taken a new tone. At first, a few states1 offered bill similar to the New Jersey2 one, but then, as Chip has commented, the insurance industry has made its views known—as we knew they would.
Continue Reading Through the Rabbit Hole—Update on proposed COVID-19 Business Interruption Legislation

NOTE: This guest blog post is by Holly Soffer, Esq., a policyholder attorney and General Counsel to the American Association of Public Insurance Adjusters.

While many of us are working at home, we have more time to spend analyzing and contemplating the roles of the government and the insurance industry in responding to the coronavirus crisis. This blog post is an extension of that opportunity.
Continue Reading COVID-19 and The New Jersey Assembly Bill 3844

(NOTE: This guest post is by Barry Zalma, Esq., CFE.1 Barry Zelma is a prolific writer and scholar in the field of insurance. I have purchased numerous publications from Barry. I am currently reading a book on legal ethics he wrote, The Little Book on Ethics For The American Lawyer, which may be his finest work and that is saying a lot after reading his treatises on insurance law and adjustment. I encourage you to read this very thorough post and consider purchasing Zalma’s publications for your reference library. – Chip Merlin.)

A Policyholders Lawyer’s Take on the Obligation to Read

In its blog the Merlin Law Group cites a small portion of a lengthy Hastings Law Journal article written by Professor Chuck Knapp.2 Dr. Knapp did not like the use, by appellate courts, of the concept that there is a duty to read (DTR) an insurance policy.

The blog post by Chip Merlin proposed that Dr. Knapp’s proposals would allow the court to rewrite the terms and conditions of the policy. Dr. Knapp did not do that but spent many pages explaining why the word “duty” should not be used and the exceptions available to the courts when interpreting an insurance contract as well as other contracts.
Continue Reading There is an Obligation for the Insured to Read an Insurance Policy

Chip Merlin and Steve Badger

(Note: This guest post is by Steven Badger, a Partner at Zelle, LLP, where he represents the commercial property insurance industry in emerging and significant risk exposures. In addition to representing his clients in litigated disputes, Steve spends considerable time working with the insurance industry and other interested stakeholders in finding solutions to the abuses and outright fraud prevalent in these matters. This includes development of policy form changes and legislative solutions to address common issues, as well as the identification and pursuit of actions against fraudulent actors involved in these matters.)

I was surprised to learn this week of a PLRB webinar slide in which an attorney from my law firm made a general negative statement about public adjusters. I had never seen the slide before. I knew nothing about it. In fact, I initially doubted that it was even real, as I didn’t expect that an attorney in my law firm would take such a position.

But, unfortunately, the slide was real.

It was just being circulated and considered out of context.
Continue Reading Steve Badger Responds – Actions Speak Louder Than An Unfortunate Attempt At Humor

Note: This guest post is by David Thompson, CPCU, AAI, API, CRIS, an instructor at the Florida Association of Insurance Agents for over 23 years. Prior to that he worked in a family-owned insurance agency for over ten years. He was a commissioned officer in the United States Army and the United States Coast Guard for eight years prior to beginning his insurance career. In his spare time, he smokes the world’s best BBQ.

I drive a red four-door car that has a sticker price of about $21,000. A good friend of mine also drives a red four-door car, but his car was over $26,000. Why did he pay more than I did? After all aren’t all red four door cars the same?

The answer to that question is obvious because different cars have different features. The same concept can be used with insurance policies. Not every policy is the same, and price alone should never be a reason to purchase an insurance policy. The homeowners policy on my Tallahassee home is $1,281 per year. I doubt any of my neighbors pay that much and I’m nearly 100 percent certain that no one within miles of my house has a policy with as many coverage enhancements as my policy does. I have (for fun) gone to some websites where you can put in your street address, answer four or five simple questions and pronto, you get a quote. I did that just today and the quote provided in under a minute listed 23 companies; 22 were lower than my current premium with the lowest being $572. By the way, only three questions were asked: zip code, year built, and coverage limit. But, what did that policy include? Was coverage as broad as what I currently have? I assure you that it was not, but too many consumers would look at $1,281 vs. $572 and go with the cheaper quote. A long time “insurance nerd” friend of mine who had over fifty years in the insurance industry when he passed away a few years ago often said, “The bitterness of no coverage is remembered long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”
Continue Reading Insurance Is Not a Commodity – It’s Not All About the Price

So, your property has suffered a loss and now you’re about to deal with the arduous insurance claims handling process. Stop right there. Before you do anything, get ready to document your experience. It will help you later on.
Continue Reading Why Policyholders Should Keep a Comprehensive Timeline of Events Following a Loss and How A Policyholder Should Prepare the Timeline

Note: This guest blog is by Scott deLuise. Scott deLuise has been a public adjuster in Colorado since 1985, and licensed since Colorado implemented licensing. He is licensed in 28 states and Puerto Rico. He is a past president of NAPIA, and founding president of RMAPIA.

Monday before last was a sad day for the property insurance industry for carriers, but mostly for consumers.
Continue Reading Colorado House Bill 18-1153 Concerning Appraisals for Insurance Claims Killed in Finance Committee Hearing

Note: This guest blog post is by Brent Winans, Vice President of Clear Advantage Risk Management in Delray Beach, Florida (www.clearadvantagerisk.com). He provides fee-based (no insurance sales) risk management consulting services to larger clients and serves as an expert witness on both sides of agent errors and omissions cases across the country.

Even if your building is insured for replacement cost, if you do not have Ordinance or Law coverage, you probably do not have the protection you think you have.

A standard replacement cost policy will pay to replace “new for old,” but only if the building codes (ordinances or laws) do not require a better “new” than you had before. For instance, if your building does not have hurricane shutters or hurricane windows and the new code requires them, your replacement cost policy will pay the cost for replacing your original windows but will not pay the increased cost for new hurricane windows or hurricane shutters.
Continue Reading What You Don’t Know About Ordinance or Law Coverage Can Hurt You!

Note: This guest post is by Steven Thomas. As President and Owner of Roof Leak Detection Company, Inc., Steven Thomas has evaluated over 20,000 roofing systems on commercial, industrial, and residential properties, and has been qualified in court as an expert in regards to roof testing and evaluations. His company is an approved Testing Laboratory and has held this certification since 1994.

I have seen a trend lately which occurs after severe weather impacts an area and damage has been caused by either hail, wind, or extreme amounts of rain (like what I witnessed this past week in Texas), and Contractors have been applying shrink wrap to roofs. Apparently, they use shrink wrap to prevent water from entering the building. When you have a leaky roof, it is costly to repair and annoying to say the least! And yes, shrink wrap can certainly provide a temporary relief from the immediate problem of water coming into the structure; however, every novel idea has its problems too!
Continue Reading The Use of Shrink Wrap on Roofs

Note: This guest blog is by Lewis O’Leary, who has served as both a forensic investigator and restoration contractor since Hurricane Camille (1969). He has a degree in the fields of Mechanical Engineering and Architecture, is the Chairman of the Education Committee for the Building Envelope Science Institute, and is a design/build, General Contractor licensed in North Carolina. Mr. O’Leary also serves as a staff consultant for engineering firms involved with wind damage from hurricanes and tornadoes. He can be contacted at 919-577-0907 or via e-mail at probuil@aol.com.

In researching the weather data for the June 14, 2017, hailstorm in the Midland/Odessa area, I shocked a veteran contractor who that works storm clean up by telling him that my research shows that wind typically causes more damage than hail.
Continue Reading Why Major Hail Storms Commonly Turn Out to be More Wind Than Hail