One certain way FEMA and National Flood Administrators get out of paying otherwise valid flood insurance claims is to require strict and timely requirements. Citing an internally generated and fraudulent 99% closure statistic, the National Flood Program denied a request to extend the timeline for filing Proofs of Loss for Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria victims.
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As advocates for victims whose lives have been turned upside down as a result of the devastating flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, and Hurricane Maria, we know that one year may not be enough time for flood victims to obtain the estimates and documents necessary to submit their required proof of loss form to FEMA or their flood insurance company.
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It has been five months since Hurricanes Irma and Maria wreaked widespread havoc on the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Category 5 hurricanes damaged buildings of all shapes and types – residences, businesses, places of worship, warehouses and commercial buildings. Those with insurance coverage filed claims, presumably expecting prompt and fair responses from their insurance companies. Have these policyholders received a timely response?
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Following the devastating damages from Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma, homeowners and businesses alike examined their insurance coverages to assist their recovery. For most people that have never needed to use insurance benefits, or had only small claims, these policies may have seemed like just another large expense every year that mostly protected the bank on its lending. However, when a loss happens each insurance policy should be recognized as the asset it has always been, available to provide funding for large, unanticipated expenses. The case I discuss next illustrates why understanding insurance principles is so crucial to gathering all available policy benefits.
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The 90-day period to resolve claims made for damages caused by Hurricane Maria may expire soon. To protect insureds from the bad faith and delay of the insurer, Puerto Rico’s Insurance Code provides under Art. 27.162, that insurance companies should be diligent in the processing of claims within the 90-day period for claims to be resolved, and if the insurer cannot comply within this period, just cause must be presented to the Commissioner.1 Bad faith is considered the frivolous or unfounded refusal to provide payment or treatment to a plan member or insured. Good faith is presumed, and the one who claims the bad faith has the burden of proof.2
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