Larry Bache, who will talk about Hurricane Sally claims in Florida, was debating with Derek Chaiken in our Los Angeles office about smoke residue claims versus char claims from the California Wildfires when I came up with the brilliant idea of holding an impromptu seminar with Merlin Law Group attorneys about all the ongoing catastrophes, on my Tuesdays at 2 With Chip. Deborah Trotter is licensed in Louisiana and will join us about Hurricane Laura claims. Ashley Harris is licensed in Alabama and will join us in about Hurricane Sally claims there. I am licensed just about everywhere but will concentrate on Texas claims from Beta.
Continue Reading Beta in Texas, Laura in Louisiana, Sally in Alabama and Florida, and Wildfires in California—Do Not Miss Learning From Attorneys in All These Jurisdictions Today at Tuesdays With Chip at 2

In active hurricane seasons, coastal communities may face more than one named storm in a season. Named storm and hurricane deductibles are very high, sometimes as high as 5% of the insured value of the property, which amounts to thousands of dollars in a time of diminished resources. Some states have passed laws to prohibit insurers from applying these high deductibles more than once during the calendar year. After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita impacted Louisiana’s coastal communities within two weeks of each other in 2005, Louisiana passed its Annual Deductible Law.
Continue Reading Louisiana’s Annual Named Storm / Hurricane Deductible Law

After Hurricane Georges hit Puerto Rico in September of 1998, many policyholders considered that their claims were unfairly denied due to the ambiguous language in their policies. The main issue was that the policies did not have a specific deductible language for hurricane damage. If the policy did not have specific deductible language for hurricane, the insurance companies would apply the wind damage deductible but, in some claims, they applied the deductible classified under “basic damages.” Many of the policyholders filed complaints in the Insurance Commissioner’s Office against the insurance companies for the ambiguity in the language related to hurricane damage deductible. Some of those cases were then appealed. Below is what the Court of Appeals of Puerto Rico held in United Surety & Indemnity Company v. Insurance Commissioner of Puerto Rico,1 regarding this issue.
Continue Reading Is it Correct for Your Insurance Company to Consider Windstorm Damage Synonymous with Hurricane Damage?

Deductibles are an unavoidable part of residential insurance policies. Florida case law defines a “deductible” as “a clause in an insurance policy that relieves the insurer of responsibility for an initial specified loss of the kind insured against.”1 Following a loss, a policyholder must first take on the financial responsibility of the deductible before the insurance company becomes liable.
Continue Reading Single-Season Deductibles: A Response to the Frightening 2004 Hurricane Season

As the New York Times explained, mobile homes burn easily. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called for a review of building standards following the complete destruction of 500 manufactured homes in the Oakridge Mobile Home Park. California building officials have noted that building regulations must be strengthened to account for the wildfire hazards in California. Regulators asking for tougher building codes to prevent widespread catastrophe are nothing new and, in the long term, are generally good for society and insurance companies.


Continue Reading What Do Katrina, Ike, And The California Wild Fires Have In Common?

The Austin American-Statesmen quoted Galveston Judge Jim Yarbrough as stating that Hurricane Ike recovery efforts are going to be more of a marathon than a sprint. He is right, especially for those in areas that had a combination of storm surge and wind related damage. The Judge noted that it was going to take at least two years before a substantial recovery is made. Sadly, he is entirely accurate. 


Continue Reading “It’s a Marathon”

Our office in Houston has been without power for a week. Tina Nicholson, who heads up our Houston office, held out for awhile, but has worked out of Gulfport since Wednesday. Frank Chimento spent most of the week working out of the Houston Omni, which is flooded with adjusters from all over the country. Initial reports have ranged from $8 billion to $18 billion in covered damages. The sense I get is the $18 billion figure may be breached.


Continue Reading First Reports Of Ike Damage

State Farm has apparently made a significant push in manpower and communications regarding the adjustment of claims in Louisiana and Texas. It takes thousands of adjusters and sufficient communications to get the job done promptly.  Delay caused State Farm’s old claims mantra under Frank Haines–"pay neither a penny more nor less"–has no place in the claims process, especially following a catastrophe. Good luck to the company with the "Good Neighbor" slogan. Many of my policyholder colleagues simply hate when I say anything nice about State Farm or any other insurance company. I appreciate that, especially if they feel that they have been wronged by insurance company adjusters or attorneys.


Continue Reading State Farm Gears Up For Ike