After the United States hurricanes such as Harvey, Ike, Rita, and Dolly, insurance companies denied delayed or underpaid tens of thousands of valid claims. If an insurance company does not act in good faith and fair dealing when handling your storm damage claim, you may have a legal claim against them. Damages may include awards even larger than your policy value, especially if their conduct has been especially egregious.
Do not wait until your claim is denied or delayed before consulting with an attorney experienced in hurricane claims.
Our consultations are free, no-obligation, and confidential.
60-Minutes Fraud Investigation
“The Storm After The Storm”
In a 60 Minutes fraud investigation of Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath, they found “thousands of claims remained unresolved for years, and there was evidence that many homeowners were victims of wide-scale fraud – where original reports were later changed to make it look like the damage wasn’t as bad.”
Per the video aired September 3, 2017:
“The city condemned [hurricane victim] Kaible’s home, saying it was damaged beyond repair. The house had been knocked off its foundation. His insurance company, Wright Flood, sent an engineer to inspect the damage. Three weeks later, the Kaibles couldn’t have been more surprised.
Bob Kaible: I get the engineering report that there’s no structural damage to the house. So I’m going like, “What do you mean there’s no structural damage? The house is not what it was before.”
The insurance company agreed to send someone back out to the house. Surprisingly, it was the same engineer, George Hernemar, who worked for a company called U.S. Forensic.
Bob Kaible: I said, “George, how could you write a report like that?” He goes, “It’s not my report.” I said, “What do you mean it’s not your report?” He says, “Wait here.” He goes to the trunk of his car, goes, picks up the report, and brings it into the house. He says, “This is the report I wrote.”
Bob Kaible got out his phone and took a picture of George’s original report. It plainly said there was “structural damage” to the house. But this is the report the insurance company sent to Kaible when they denied his claim. Quote “not structurally damaged.” They said the damage was “long term”… meaning it existed before Hurricane Sandy.
The Kaible’s insurance company, Wright Flood, the largest provider of flood insurance in the country, paid him just $79,000 dollars of his $250,000 policy.
Bob Kaible: We had a mortgage on the house. I’ve had estimates of $300-350,000 to rebuild the house. What am I going to do?”
Long Island Engineering Company Charged in Scheme to Minimize Payouts
In August 2016, The New York Times reported a 50-count indictment of two former Long Island engineering company executives, charged “in a scheme to minimize insurance payments to homeowners whose residences were damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.” Per the indictment, the government said “they had altered engineering reports that had been used to assess the structural damage to homes caused by the storm.”
The company allegedly submitted those reports to adjusters “without the consent of the engineers who did the work.”
Legislation Reduces Florida Statute of Limitations
Florida’s legislation currently allows for windstorm or hurricane claims to be filed “within three years after the hurricane first made landfall or the windstorm caused the covered damage.” This gives homeowners less time than what was previously a five-year statute of limitations. Current legislation also allows for the insurance company to withhold payment for residential property damage until repairs are completed.
Hurricane Irma – “A Hurricane That Can Bust The Insurance Industry”
According to Shahid Hamid, Florida University International Hurricane Research Center, “this can really be a hurricane that can bust the insurance industry. When I saw Irma’s track, I was tremendously concerned.”
AIR Worldwide, a catastrophe modeling firm in Boston, has predicted Hurricane Irma will cost insurance companies $20 billion to $40 billion in payouts. If private insurance companies go through all resources, they can end up insolvent.
“Nobody has ever seen a storm of this particular path and size,” said Michael Peltier, company spokesman of Citizens Property Insurance, Florida’s state-owned insurer.