We’ve been lucky so far this hurricane season across South Florida, but that won’t always be the case. Did you know that recent estimates indicate the losses from Hurricane Laura are going to be between $8 and $12 billion in Louisiana alone. That means that a lot of Louisiana residents are now navigating the insurance claims process. So how exactly does that work? What happens if and when a storm hits South Florida?

 

Q: I reported my claim to my insurance carrier; now what do I do?

A: You need to take immediate steps to prevent further damage. However, do not attempt permanent repairs or dispose of any damaged property before the adjuster can see it and make his assessments on behalf of your insurance company. As a homeowner or property owner, carefully document your losses and then you can dispose of the debris. Photograph or video and perishable items and make sure you keep any and all receipts for emergency repairs and additional living expenses to substantiate your claim.

 

Q: How long does it take to settle a claim?

A: Generally, the priority of settling claims goes to the most severe losses. Larger claims are typically settled in stages and not all at once. With a hurricane or major natural disaster, insurers are dealing with a lot of claims. Sometimes it can take months or even years to finally settle a claim. That’s why it’s always important to have an experienced property insurance lawyer on your side to help you navigate the complexities that can arise. 

 

Q: What can I do to speed up the claims process?

A: Remember to document the damaged property as soon as it is safe to do so. Create a detailed record of all damaged property and include any receipts for items needed to make emergency repairs.

 

Q: What happens if I can’t live in my home due to the damage or because of repairs?

A: Some insurance policies cover additional living expenses, which can help with temporary housing, restaurant meals, laundry, etc. Make sure you keep all those receipts to document the expenses. 

 

Q: What if I have questions about my policy coverage and claim amount?

A: This is another great reason to work with an experienced property insurance attorney because they can negotiate on your behalf with your insurance carrier. A claims adjuster is typically going to protect the insurance company’s interests first while safeguarding their bottom line. A skilled attorney will work with you to make sure you maximize your recovery. 

 

We know your insurance policy can be confusing and overwhelming. In order to avoid unnecessary confusion, you should contact an experienced Florida insurance claims attorney. We will walk you through the terms of your insurance policy and provide representation in any dispute in Florida where your insurer is denying, delaying or under-paying your claim. Call our Miami property insurance claim attorneys at the Acle Law Firm today at 305-447-4667 or visit Acle Law for a free consultation.

Hurricane season here and it’s essential to prepare your Miami home or Miami business before potential disaster can strike – especially if you live in South Florida where we call home. Now is the time to determine your personal hurricane risk and better understand local hurricane evacuation zones while reviewing and updating your Miami property insurance policies. It’s also a good idea to make a list of hurricane emergency supplies you’ll need and to start and pull that kit together now as best you can. Keep in mind, you may need to adjust storm preparedness based on health and safety guidelines from the CDC and local and state officials. But to get you started, Acle Law has pulled together this basic Hurricane Preparedness Checklist for you:

 

  1. Determine Property Risk
  2. Develop an Evacuation Plan
  3. Gather Disaster Supplies
  4. Get an Insurance Check-Up from Acle Law
  5. Trim Trees and Strengthen Property
  6. Help Neighbors and Community
  7. Document Existing Property with Photos and Video

 

Please keep in mind that every homeowners and business property insurance policy is different, so it’s critical to have an expert attorney review it so you fully understand what you do and do not have coverage for.

 

If you experience an insurance loss from a hurricane, tropical storm or other major weather event or natural disaster, don’t be surprised when your insurance company’s first reaction is to claim that your damage was due to pre-existing conditions or is not covered under the terms of your policy. But don’t worry, our experienced and aggressive attorneys at Acle Law are on your side and we won’t stop fighting on your behalf until you receive the benefits you are entitled to. We work with the very best construction, restoration and mitigation experts in their fields to determine the facts on your behalf.

 

Insurance policies can be confusing and overwhelming. In order to avoid unnecessary confusion, you should contact an experienced Florida insurance claims attorney. We will walk you through the terms of your insurance policy and provide representation in any dispute in Florida where your insurer is denying, delaying or under-paying your claim. Call our Miami property insurance claim attorneys at the Acle Law Firm today at 305-447-4667 or visit Acle Law for a free consultation.

Let’s face it – we all buy insurance hoping we will never need it, but when a situation arises and a claim needs to be filed, many are at a total loss about how to proceed. The following information from our Founding Partner Edward Acle should help answer some of your most basic questions and property damage insurance claims. If you have additional questions or need assistance filing a claim or resolving a dispute with your insurance carrier, call Acle Law at 305-447-4667 or visit aclelaw.com for an absolutely free and confidential consultation.

 

What does a public adjuster do?

An insurance claim adjuster investigates a claim to determine whether coverage applies and the value of the claim. Insurance company adjusters and independent adjusters work for the insurance company and have the insurer’s interests in mind first. A Public Adjuster works for the policyholder and is committed to advocating on their behalf. A public adjuster will usually provide immediate assistance to help mitigate your loss, secure your claim, fulfill obligations under your policy, preserve evidence and guide you through the necessary steps in order to comply with your existing policy. A public adjuster also measures and documents your loss, but is uninfluenced by the insurance company’s profitability and will subsequently prepare and adjust your claim specifically on your behalf.

 

Do you need a public adjuster?

The short answer is typically yes. A public adjuster’s complete damage analysis can help you fully recover your losses. Public adjusters are expertly trained and since their fees are contingent on the amount of reimbursement you get from your carrier, public adjusters are motivated to obtain the most accurate, comprehensive and fastest recovery possible. If you rely solely on your insurance carrier’s adjuster, you run the serious risk of your claim being undervalued or underpaid. At Acle Law, we pride ourselves on working with some of the best public adjusters in the whole state of Florida.

 

Why do I need a Miami property insurance attorney?

A public adjuster can only do so much. An attorney, however, has all the legal tools and experience necessary to achieve the very best result for a client, which include litigating in court if necessary. Public adjusters are fully aware of what they can and cannot do, and when they are unable to achieve what they know to be a full or fair resolution, many times they will refer the case to us.

 

What should you do in the event of property loss?

As a policyholder, it’s vitally important that you keep current on your premium payments in order to maintain a valid policy in case you ever need it. In the event you do need to make a claim, it’s your responsibility to notify your carrier promptly about the loss and to cooperate with their investigation. Each policy is unique, but generally you’ll be required to do the following:

 

  • Provide prompt notice of loss to your insurer
  • Call the police if foul play is suspected or involved
  • Submit a signed, sworn proof of loss statement as required by your insurer
  • Give a description of the circumstances surrounding your loss
  • Prepare an inventory of damaged property
  • Take reasonable steps to mitigate the damage
  • Allow the insurer to inspect the property
  • Cooperate in any investigation
  • Keep the insurer informed of changed or other developments

 

What steps should you take before disaster strikes?

The first thing you should do is make sure you’ve purchased an adequate amount of insurance to cover your personal or business property. The next step is to create an accurate record of the property and items you are protecting, which may include taking pictures or video and making backups of important business records.

 

Just remember, our experienced attorneys at Acle Law will walk you through the terms of your insurance policy and provide representation in any dispute in Florida where your insurer is denying, delaying or under-paying your claim. Call our Miami property insurance claim attorneys at the Acle Law Firm today at 305-447-4667 or visit Acle Law for a free consultation.

The implications of business interruption insurance coverage across the Miami business community is causing unprecedented uncertainty and anxiety during the COVID-19 quarantine in South Florida. As businesses and carriers across all verticals review policies for possible coverage during the coronavirus pandemic, questions are falling into a few predictable buckets of coverage, including: 

  • Workers Compensation
  • Property Damage
  • Event Cancellation
  • Supply Chain Interruption
  • Business Interruption
  • General Liability

Today, Acle Law is specifically focusing on business interruption. Clients of the firm continue to reach into their files to review what losses related to the pandemic may be covered while insurance carriers continue to review those same policies to determine what claims to expect. Both regulators and litigators will be impacted for many years to come on this singular issue because to say the Coronavirus outbreak is paramount to a catastrophic event is a gross understatement. Insurers are bracing for potential worldwide losses at a magnitude never seen before.

 

Business Interruption Insurance

The most direct loss felt by most businesses during the quarantine has been and will continue to be business interruption. It’s caused by a variety of factors including an ill workforce, government mandates, supply chain disruption, customer loss or a combination of all of the above. Part of most business commercial property coverage requires some kind of physical loss to the premise to trigger business interruption coverage. This requirement is triggering many questions about what physical loss looks like in the age of COVID-19 pandemic.

 

That’s why it’s important that you have an expert review your policy to help you best determine what is covered. At Acle Law, our experienced attorneys have been pouring over dozens of small and large business policies across South Florida to help determine a best course of action. It’s important to remember that insurance is not a “commodity,” which means that no two policies are likely the same. The language in each individual policy will determine your ability to recover a claim.

 

Some policies include business interruption for contagious diseases, but many will likely exclude coverage for losses caused by a pandemic, partially in response to previous outbreaks of SARS and H1N1. Again, each policy needs to be carefully reviewed to determine when coverage may be allowed and what facts are present for each instance.

 

The Law and Regulations

As business losses mount, it’s critical to review the actions taken by the State of Florida, Departments of Insurance and the federal government as approaches so far have vacillated between protecting the solvency of insurers to mandating payments of business interruption insurance, even when such coverage was not written into the policies.  

 

It remains to be seen where federal and state governments will land on this issue, but the discussion will continue for quite a while, even after certain definitive action has been taken. In the meantime, insureds have not waited for guidance, and litigation has already begun.

 

We don’t know what the coming days and months will bring, but Acle Law will be here whenever you need us. We may be a team of property insurance lawyers, but we’re people first. We are your neighbors in your community and we’re in this with you. Call our Miami property insurance claim attorneys at the Acle Law Firm today at 305-447-4667 or visit Acle Law for a free consultation.

 

 

Many businesses across South Florida are being told by insurers that your business interruption policy does not cover events related to the COVID-19 pandemic, because either the policy specifically excludes pandemics or viruses, or there has not been actual “property loss.” Our team at Acle Law has researched and assembled what a complaint against an insurer might look like regarding the latter, and we believe strong arguments can be made that in fact coverage does exist.  

 

No matter your business type, we are all facing dire circumstances due to the pandemic. Closures, local and statewide shelter-in-place orders, and strict social distancing regulations are impacting our entire economy and way of life. As a result, South Florida policyholders are facing the dilemma of whether to make a claim against their business interruption insurance policy in light of the government’s forced closure of non-essential businesses.

 

If your policy excludes pandemics, epidemics or viruses, you likely will face an uphill battle to obtain coverage absent of any legislation to address pandemic-related exclusions. Certain states are considering this already and we expect more to follow. However, insurers and their lobbying groups will certainly mount constitutional challenges to any such legislation.  

 

If your policy doesn’t exclude pandemics, then typically a successful claim requires physical damage to your property that has causes the interruption to your business. The question before the courts and the legal system now is “has the COVID-19 pandemic caused physical damage to property? Some courts have held that contaminants or pollution could fulfill this “physical damage” requirement, but more in-depth analysis of your policy’s language is needed to see whether COVID-19 is sufficient enough to bring forth a claim.

 

Our attorneys at Acle Law are urging policyholders to be proactive and aggressive in pursuing business interruption coverage. Some immediate steps you can take include:

 

  • Carefully review the language of your policy to determine whether exclusions are present or not.
  • Collect and maintain proof of interruption/loss – document all relevant government communication and executive orders, financial losses, and remediation costs while maintaining a log of all individuals that enter and exit your premises (including all deliveries).
  • Work with your attorney to carefully draft your claim prior to submission to ensure the language is sufficiently broad enough to better your chances of receiving coverage.
  • In the event you are denied coverage, work with an attorney to evaluate whether to litigate. And remember, typical policies will have a statute of limitations for filing a claim.

 

We don’t know what the coming days and months will bring, but Acle Law will be here whenever you need us. We may be a team of property insurance lawyers, but we’re people first. Your neighbors in your community and we’re in this with you. Call our Miami property insurance claim attorneys at the Acle Law Firm today at 305-447-4667 or visit Acle Law for a free consultation.

 

 

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a swirling storm of chaos across the globe, and with any crisis – just like the hurricanes we experience in South Florida – there are people looking to exploit confusion for their own profit. Some are creating false storefronts and offering hard-to-find items that once paid for, never get delivered. Others are creating schemes via text messages, emails, apps or phone calls. Some of the below are even spreading as fast as the virus itself. As a South Florida consumer, be weary of these and many other scams out there. Stick to trusted sources in times like these.

 

The Friend of the Friend in the CDC

You’ve probably already seen this pop up in your social media feeds or in a group WhatsApp chat – it’s the friend of the friend who has an aunt, cousin or someone they know that works for the government and has inside information about the disease, a vaccine, homemade remedy or details on a lack of essential services. It’s not true. Remain skeptical of panic inducing messages from obscure sources. Focus on facts from reputable news outlets only.

 

Government Checks

Many Americans will receive their $1,200 from the government in the next few weeks while small businesses are actively pursuing the new PPL loans that became available. But anyone that calls you asking for your social security number, bank account or credit card number is looking to scam you. The federal government will not ask you personally for this, unless you are small business and filling out the appropriate PPL forms from your accredited lender. You will not be asked to pay anything up front in order to receive funds.

 

Vaccine Reservations

All scientific evidence indicates that the potential for a vaccine available to the general public is still probably 12 – 18 months away. In the meantime, scammers are out there posing as the CDC, knocking on doors claiming to be with the World Health Organization and other official entities asking for a deposit on a vaccine reservation. The problem is there is no vaccine reservation program and there will never be. Do not give out your personal information to anyone.

 

Phishing

Even during normal times, phishing is a problem. This is the fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by disguising oneself as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. With Coronavirus, the phishing problem has been exacerbated. Now more than ever, do not click on links or files unless you know 100 percent what’s in the file and from whom it originated. One in particular is linked to COVID-19 tracking maps. Don’t click on those. You’re better off going directly to the Florida Department of Health or the CDC’s website for your information.   

 

As we all work together as a global community to mitigate the dynamic COVID-19 crisis through social distancing, limiting travel and reducing person-to-person contact, South Florida businesses are understandably concerned about the financial impact it is having on their operations.

 

Fortunately, local Miami businesses can try and proactively manage their Coronavirus exposure now by carefully reviewing existing policies to determine whether you have adequate coverage for COVID-19 or other infectious disease related losses.

 

Business Interruption Insurance

Business interruption insurance may respond with coverage for this type of income loss. Typically purchased as part of a company’s commercial property insurance policy, business interruption insurance is intended to protect businesses against income losses sustained as a result of disruptions to their operations. Contingent business interruption coverage similarly provides insurance for financial losses resulting from disruptions to a business's customers or suppliers, usually requiring that the underlying cause of damage to the customer or supplier be of a type covered with respect to the business's own property. 

 

Business interruption insurance is usually triggered when the policyholder sustains some sort of direct physical loss or damage to an insured property by a covered cause of loss. COVID-19 related business loss claims may be disputed as carriers will argue whether this “physical loss” requirement has been met. This is why it’s important to have an experienced property insurance attorney on your side.

 

There is no uniform rule for when an insured property has suffered a physical loss. Many courts have determined that contamination that renders a property uninhabitable or unfit for its intended use constitutes a loss that is adequate to trigger business interruption coverage. The determination of physical loss is the key component to this and will require close examination by an attorney to determine the factors in your case.

 

Additionally, many commercial property insurance policies provide coverage for business income loss due to “civil authority” that prohibits or impairs access to your business. It depends on the wording in your contract, which is another reason it’s a good idea to have a property insurance attorney review your existing policy with you.

 

In conclusion, your scope of coverage will ultimately depend on the specific language of your insurance policy. South Florida businesses interested in proactively managing their COVID-19 exposure should be reviewing their policies now. Call Acle Law now at 305-447-4667 or visit aclelaw.com to schedule an absolutely free and private consultation with our business interruption specialists.

 

The outbreak of COVID-19 represents one of the most significant global public health crises in the last century and is causing major disruptions and unprecedented unpredictability in markets, businesses and economies.

Like many of our clients, we at Acle Law operate across all of Florida and grasp the speed at which the current situation continues develop. Businesses and residents of Florida across every industry and demographic are facing new challenges as the future remains in flux. One thing is for certain however – this will eventually pass.

 Some of the most important considerations that we as Floridians are facing in the meantime may include:

  • Comply with the law and advice set forth by federal, state and local officials designed to safeguard residents and employees and mitigate the spread of the disease.
  • Implement travel restrictions and social distancing policies to protect the health of your neighbors and the safety of our Florida workforce.
  • Evaluate the impact of legal requirements and policies including your insurance position.
  • Adopt, revise and if necessary, implement continuity, succession and other relevant policies and plans.
  • Evaluate the availability of business interruption, property, casualty and other forms of insurance.
  • Project the financial impact of COVID-19 on your business and personal wealth and adjust budgets and expenditures to manage your resources accordingly.
  • Talk to your neighbors, co-workers, friends and family. We’re stronger unified than divided.

Acle Law remains committed to actively advising clients on these and other urgent legal matters. We are deeply committed to the South Florida community we call home and the safety and well-being of our clients and our people is paramount. As a South Florida law firm with more than 20 years of experience in disaster litigation, our team is on hand and well-suited to help guide you and your business through this uncertain time. Please contact your Acle Law partner at 305-447-4667 or visit aclelaw.com should you have any questions or require any legal advice on any Florida property COVID-19 issues.

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