Hurricane Irma Lawyer

Category: Miami Lawyer Blog
Published on 18 April 2018
Written by Patrick Russell Hits: 67

Hurricane Irma LawyerHurricane Irma Lawyer - Experience Counts

This should go without saying. Not all lawyers are created equal. Hardly controversial, right? Let's face it, you got a traffic ticket so you call a traffic lawyer. Before doing so, you verify the lawyer has experience handling traffic tickets. After all, it would not make sense to hire the best bankruptcy lawyer to help you with a traffic ticket would it?

So Now You Want To Be A Hurricane Lawyer?

I got a laugh after Hurricane Irma when I heard certain law firms and lawyers advertising how they could help consumers with their hurricane insurance claims. These self-appointed experts were personal injury lawyers who now wanted to dabble in insurance law. That is asking for trouble. As an experienced Florida insurance lawyer, I would not presume to handle a large complicated personal injury case on my own. Other than greed, what makes a personal injury lawyer think he/she can handle a catastrophic hurricane claim for the first time?

Verify The Qualifications of Your Florida Hurricane Lawyer

It is not often that your most expensive and valued asset gets destroyed by a hurricane. Does it make sense to trust a novice to handle your Hurricane Irma insurance claim for the first time? I hardly think so. If you do anything, carefully check the background of any lawyer you are considering to help with your insurance claim. Things to consider. When did this lawyer start handling insurance claims? How many insurance claims has this lawyer handled? How many hurricane claims has the lawyer handled versus water leaks or tile claims? What type of experience does this lawyer have in Florida, and specifically in South Florida?

Hurricane Irma Insurance Claim Review

I have more than two decades of insurance claim experience solely in South Florida. That experience began with Hurricane Andrew insurance claims. If your Hurricane Irma claim has been denied, delayed, or underpaid, feel free to contact me to review your claim for suggestions and ideas on how to proceed. There is absolutely no obligation on your part. Information is free, mistakes are costly.


About the AuthorPatrick Russell, Esq., has been a member of The Florida Bar since 1994 and is an experienced Florida insurance lawyer. Patrick started his insurance law practice more than twenty years ago when he represented homeowners and business owners for their Hurricane Andrew insurance claims. The purpose of this article is educational and not for the solicitation of legal services. The goal is to avoid the mistakes learned from the past, specifically those from previous windstorms. Knowledge is power. Information is free. Mistakes are costly. If you would like more tips on how to process your Florida insurance claim, Patrick can be reached at (305) 608-2977 or here.

 

Hurricane Irma Insurance Claims

Category: Miami Lawyer Blog
Published on 14 March 2018
Written by Patrick Russell Hits: 165

Hurricane Irma Insurance Claims

Florida Keys Hurricane Claims

Hurricane Irma slammed into the Florida Keys more than six months ago. There is no disputing the fact that this catastrophic storm devastated the area as though a bomb went off. Ground zero for the destruction included Cudjoe Key, Summerland Key, Little Torch Key, Pine Key, and Marathon. 

If homes were not destroyed by the storm surge in these low lying areas, then the winds took care of the rest. From floor to ceiling, very little was spared. Sprouting countless tornadoes together with hurricane force winds, Hurricane Irma wiped out entire neighborhoods.

So after six months, where do we stand in the rebuilding efforts? The short answer...not good. Despite the fact that the cause of damages is not disputed, insurance companies have still found a way to stall and delay the investigation of claims.

Time may pass fast when you are having fun, but not so much when you are living in an RV next to your destroyed home. Many homeowners still have not had a full and complete inspection of their damaged homes outside of the preliminary and rushed first inspection that came weeks after the storm. If they were lucky, homeowners received partial payments for their damages.

When an entire home needs to be repaired or rebuilt, there is not much you can do with only a partial payment. Mortgage lenders are not going to release repair funds to the owners if they do not have a repair plan in place. Owners cannot have a realistic repair plan in place if they do not have all the required funds. So here we sit, stuck between a palm tree and a coconut.

To Sue or Not to Sue, that is the Question

Initially, I am sure that many folks believed that their insurance company would treat them fairly after Hurricane Irma. After all, that is what insurance companies are obligated to do according to their own insurance policies. How many still believe that after six months without receiving a full payment for their damages? How many still think their insurance company will do the right thing when it does not return telephone calls, respond to letters, or go to appraisal when demanded? You know what they say, crazy is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. Just saying.

If at this point you are still going nowhere real fast with your insurance claim, it might be time to consider filing a lawsuit. In Court, your insurance company will have to answer you. There are time limits in Court. Your claim cannot be endlessly delayed in Court without repercussions. Best of all, when you win in Court, the insurance company will have to pay your attorney's fees.

By law in Florida, anyone that prevails in a lawsuit against their insurance company recovers their attorney's fees. Most experienced insurance lawyers will take your case without charging you out-of-pocket legal fees or taking a percentage of your insurance claim. Rather, an experienced Florida insurance lawyer will take your case based on what a Court will award in legal fees. This is a win-win situation for homeowners, as you can obtain an excellent Florida hurricane lawyer to get what you deserve from your insurance company, while at the same time forcing them to pay for your insurance lawyer when you win.

Act Now or Forever Hold Your Peace

Time is a wasting. Enough is enough. You paid your premiums on time to the insurance company. Now it is about time to hold the insurance company responsible for wrongly delaying and denying your insurance claim. Educate yourself. Ask questions. Seek help. Speak to a qualified and experienced Florida insurance lawyer. You are going to need to protect your rights before you lose them in the Conch Republic, from Key to Shining Key.

 


About the AuthorPatrick Russell, Esq., has been a member of The Florida Bar since 1994 and is an experienced Florida insurance lawyer. Patrick started his insurance law practice more than twenty years ago when he represented homeowners and business owners for their Hurricane Andrew insurance claims. The purpose of this article is educational and not for the solicitation of legal services. The goal is to avoid the mistakes learned from the past, specifically those from previous windstorms. Knowledge is power. Information is free. Mistakes are costly. If you would like more tips on how to process your Florida insurance claim, Patrick can be reached at (305) 608-2977 or here.

 

 

 

 

 

Ethical Rules for Insurance Umpires

Category: Miami Lawyer Blog
Published on 22 February 2018
Written by Patrick Russell Hits: 245

WINDFlorida Insurance Appraisal Process

If you find yourself in appraisal with your insurance company to set the amount of damages for your claim, you might be interested in the ethical rules for insurance umpires.

Last month, the Windstorm Insurance Network or WIND, released their ethical rules for umpires to ensure the fairness and integrity of the appraisal process. The following are the ethical rules as of January 17, 2018:

An Umpire shall:

    1. Be a neutral party.
    2. Have no financial interest in any involved property or in the outcome of the appraisal.
    3. Disclose any previous business relationship with any party, appraiser or attorney retained by a party.
    4. Promptly disclose any potential conflict of interest before accepting an assignment as an umpire, and notify the parties immediately if a conflict or potential conflict arises during the course of the appraisal proceedings.
    5. Not accept any assignment that he or she is not certain he or she is qualified to handle.
    6. Confirm any fee arrangement with the parties in writing.
    7. Confirm the issues to be addressed in the appraisal in writing with the parties.
    8. Agree to inspect the property if requested to do so by either appraiser.
    9. Maintain impartiality and neutrality throughout the appraisal process and uphold the integrity of the proceedings.
    10. Share all communications with all members of the appraisal panel throughout the appraisal proceedings.
    11. Be responsible to proceed diligently to conclude the appraisal proceedings.
    12. Retain only unbiased, qualified and impartial experts.
    13. Inquire of any retained expert as to any potential conflict of the expert.
    14. Evaluate completely all presented facts and/or claims.
    15. To the best of his or her ability, follow the law of the jurisdiction of the property.
    16. Withdraw from the proceedings if a conflict arises and the conflict is not waived in writing by all parties after notice to the parties of the conflict.
    17. Not withhold signature on any appraisal award until payment for services is received.
    18. Maintain records in good order during the appraisal process in accordance with any applicable rules or guidelines for preservation once the matter is concluded.
    19. Keep true and accurate records of time, expense and fee billings.
    20. Keep an updated list of all properties and parties for which he or she served as an umpire for a period of seven (7) years.
    21. Maintain and keep current all applicable professional licenses and continuing education requirements.
    22. Be truthful and accurate in all marketing or advertising activities.

How Appraisal Works

Appraisal is an informal dispute resolution process to establish the amount of damages for an insurance claim. The availability of the appraisal process for your claim depends on the terms and conditions of your insurance policy. In short, you will need to review your insurance policy to determine if appraisal is available and how to invoke it for your claim.

Normally, each party selects their own appraiser. Often the parties will select the adjusters they are working with. That means the insurance company will select its independent insurance adjuster and the homeowner will select its public adjuster. If the two appraisers are unable to come to an agreement as to the amount of damages, they will need to agree on a third party to serve as an umpire. In the unlikely event the appraisers cannot agree on an umpire, a petition will need to be filed in Court for a judge to select a neutral umpire.

The Appraisal Umpire

The umpire will, in the end, be the deciding voice as to the amount of damages for the claim. To reach this decision, the umpire can and often visits the property to see the damages, reviews repair estimates, and speaks with the property owners, experts, or repair personnel. The umpire's appraisal award must be signed by at least one of the other appraisers for it to be final. Absent a showing of fraud or collusion, the final decision of the umpire will set the amount of loss.

Integrity of the Appraisal Process

As you can see, the umpire is an important participant in the appraisal process. Given the importance, it is crucial to select the right umpire for your appraisal. Retired judges often serve as umpires for insurance appraisals. In any case, you will want to have an umpire that is familiar with the unique issues that your insurance claim presents as well as being a person of unquestioned ethics and honesty. 

WIND

The Windstorm Insurance Network has positioned itself as an organization whose mission is to promote education, awareness, and fairness for the insurance claim process. In doing so, WIND has established criteria and standards for its members along with a certification process for umpires and appraisers. Verifying that your umpire is WIND certified helps to ensure you will be treated fairly during the appraisal process.


About the AuthorPatrick Russell, Esq., has been a member of The Florida Bar since 1994 and is an experienced Florida insurance lawyer. Patrick started his insurance law practice more than twenty years ago when he represented homeowners and business owners for their Hurricane Andrew insurance claims. The purpose of this article is educational and not for the solicitation of legal services. The goal is to avoid the mistakes learned from the past, specifically those from previous windstorms. Knowledge is power. Information is free. Mistakes are costly. If you would like more tips on how to process your Florida insurance claim, Patrick can be reached at (305) 608-2977 or here.

 

 

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