About Jonathon Douglas

A true Florida native, Mr. Douglas graduated from Northeast High School in St. Petersburg before attending the University of Florida where he earned Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees, both with Honors. From there, Mr. Douglas attended Stetson University College of Law where he learned and practiced the art of trial advocacy. Before graduating, Jonathon clerked for the Honorable Shawn Crane and interned at the State Attorney’s Office and Public Defender’s Office. After graduation, he began his work as an Assistant Public Defender for the Sixth Judicial Circuit and then moved on to defending the rights of the accused in State and Federal Courts as an associate with the Hebert Law Group. While at the Hebert Law Group, Jonathon defended high profile and nationally televised cases.
3 11, 2022

Best Law Firm 2023 Edition US News & World Report Awards Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A.

By |2022-11-03T16:28:52-04:00November 3rd, 2022|Categories: Fire Damage Law, Hurricane Damage Law, Insurance Claims, Tree Damage Law, Water Damage Law|Tags: , |

Congratulations to Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. for winning US News & World Report Best Law Firm 2023. The firm has won the award in seven practice areas.

Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. is a full-service law firm and one of the oldest, with offices in St. Petersburg and Riverview. They received the following “Best Law Firm 2023” Awards:

  • Commercial Litigation
  • Commercial Transactions / UCC Law
  • Criminal Defense: White-Collar
  • Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants
  • Litigation – Trusts & Estates
  • Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs
  • Trusts & Estates Law

More Than 15,000 Firms Across The US Were Ranked, Only a Handful Chosen

The renowned digital media company US News & World Report has paired with Best Lawyers to rank over 15,000 firms and recognize the best. Best Lawyers is the most well-known and respected peer-review publication company for legal professionals. They find the best lawyers in the world. The two organizations have now teamed up to accredit the best law firms.

The 2023 “Best Law Firms” Award eligibility requires at least one attorney listed in the current edition of Best Lawyers. Firms are then ranked in their practice areas. Rankings are based on a combination of four categories:

  • Client feedback
  • Information provided on the Law Firm Survey
  • The Law Firm Lenders Survey
  • And Best Lawyers Peer Review

St Petersburg’s Oldest Full Service Law Firm

Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. is one of Tampa Bay’s leading and most successful law firms. Anthony S. Battaglia and his founding partners established the firm in 1958. Since then, the firm has dedicated itself to punctual and accessible legal representation.

The firm caters to individuals and businesses in St. Petersburg and surrounding areas. As a full-service law firm, they specialize in the following areas:

  • civil litigation
  • personal injury
  • car accidents and auto accidents
  • complicated commercial transactions
  • corporate matters
  • business and personal transactions
  • appellate law
  • employment law
  • wills, trusts, and probate
  • real estate and title insurance
  • criminal defense
  • and traffic matters

Being one of the best law firms in the area, they are well-connected. If they cannot handle your issue, they will refer you to a trusted legal professional who can help you.

The firm is known for its superior performance in the courtroom and has represented countless businesses and individuals in litigation. Their success record reflects the exceptional skill and experience they bring to every case. Additionally, they’ve also discreetly handled numerous high-profile cases involving complex legal issues. For more information about the firm visit www.stpetelawgroup.com or call (727)381-2300.

1 11, 2022

What to Do if Your Hurricane Ian Claim Is Undervalued or Denied

By |2022-11-01T15:47:58-04:00November 1st, 2022|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law|Tags: , , , , , , |

Florida is seeing a vast number of undervalued or denied Hurricane Ian insurance claims. That’s because Hurricane Ian has caused billions of dollars worth of property damage, and that means insurance companies need to pay up!

Sadly, it’s people like you who they’re playing hard with. You’re one of the thousands of people who have had an undervalued or denied Hurricane Ian claim. Sadly, they don’t care about you. They’re not calling up victims and offering money. They’re hiding and playing hardball.

Here’s what to do:

How to Fight Back Your Undervalued or Denied Hurricane Ian Insurance Claim

90% of people won’t contest their undervalued or denied Hurricane Ian claim. But you can and should fight back! You’re their customer and it’s your home that’s suffered.

Don’t fall into the trap that there’s no room to negotiate or that you’ll lose the lowball offer they’ve sent you. You always have the right to negotiate, argue and fight back.

Call a Property Damage Lawyer

Property damage lawyers eat insurance companies for breakfast. When the advisor you’re talking to realizes there’s an attorney involved, they sit up and take notice.

We’ve worked on the opposite side of the table, so know what tricks they use. Now, it’s our job to help people like you.

We’ve got the experience and legal expertise to sift through complicated insurance policy documents and say “You’re wrong” to the insurers.

We do more than that too. From hiring independent adjusters to collecting evidence and ensuring your accommodation is paid for, we’ll fight to ensure you get the maximum possible settlement.

Prove Where The Water Came From

Is your house flooded? Insurance companies are going to ask you where that water came from. And then, they’ll probably say your “flood damage coverage does cover that”.

Fight back! Competing insurance coverage can help you out. For example, what about your wind coverage? That water may have come from the wind damage.

So you need to prove it by showing damage above the water line, such as in your soffits, windows and roof.

Wind. Driven. Rain. These three words can be used to tell your insurer that the damage wasn’t your fault, it was the relentless hurricane that blew a hole in your roof and then let the driving rain in.

Prove the Roof Damage

They’ll also probably say that the roof is damaged because it’s old. Which also means that you’ll lose value due to depreciation.

Most of the time, this is nonsense. It’s not because your roof is old. It’s because Hurricane Ian tore it apart. So how can you prove it?

Independent Adjusters

To prove the true value of your property damage after an undervalued or denied Hurricane Ian claim, you should work with an independent adjuster.

As property damage lawyers at a long-standing and highly-rated Florida law firm, we have the resources to provide you with an independent second valuation after a poor job from an insurer.

Insurance adjusters working for the insurance company know what they’re doing. They’re not really there to help you, no matter how nice they seem. They’re there to reject your property damage claim and make the insurance company happy.

This is also not the time to trust the people walking around the block handing out flyers. Call a professional who knows what they’re doing. We welcome you to receive a free consultation today.

Do Not Sign a Release

Red flag! Your insurance company may ask you to sign a release. Please as a property damage attorney to review the proposed release first.

Although the release may seem to cover the current damage, it doesn’t mean the damage is over. Hurricane damage tends to worsen over time, due to weakened foundations, structural damage and mold.

Keep Evidence of the Damage

Ensure you’ve still got photos saved of the Hurricane Ian property damage. Don’t accidentally delete them from your phone’s photos, only for them to be permanently deleted from your phone’s trash a few days later.

These photos and records are crucial to proving the true value of what you’ve lost and building a link from the hurricane to the damage.

You should also continue to record evidence. For example, if that hole in the roof still hasn’t been fixed by your insurance company and it’s starting to cause rain to come through – then take videos and photos to prove it.

  • Keep receipts.
  • Keep photos and videos.
  • List what you’ve lost.

Read Related: Type of Damage to Look for After Hurricane Ian

Keep a Record of All Conversations

Every call, email and letter you have with your insurance company should be noted or stored. Ask for the name of your insurance representative and make note of the time and date of the communication.

If they make any promises or offers, write this down. Don’t let them twist their words.

Be Wary of Manipulation and Bullying

Insurance representatives have a nasty talent for manipulating homeowners into admitting fault, accepting lowball offers and being pressured into simply giving up.

Don’t give in. We know how unpleasant that can feel. You may feel like you’re to blame. But you’re not. Or at worst, let’s see them prove it.

Our property damage lawyers can communicate with your insurance carrier on your behalf, so you can relax and focus on recovering from the natural disaster with your family.

The following are key warning signs that your Hurricane Ian claim denial or valuation was unfair:

  • Delaying tactics
  • Manipulation and/or bullying
  • Incorrect policy coverage claims
  • Slow responses or no responses
  • You’re blamed for the damage
  • You’re told you don’t have the right to speak to a lawyer.

Hurricane Ian Property Damage Stats:

Contact a Hurricane Ian Insurance Claim Lawyer Today

Free Consultations!

If you’ve had an undervalued or denied Hurricane Ian insurance claim, our Florida property damage attorneys can help.

Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim team nationally ranked by US News and World Reports as a Tier 1 Law Firm, Battaglia Ross Dicus & McQuaid, P.A.

Having previously represented some of the largest insurance companies in the State of Florida, Mr. Douglas uses his inside knowledge and experience to help navigate hurricane insurance disputes.

Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.

27 10, 2022

Florida’s Best Lawyers 2023 Edition

By |2022-10-27T14:30:14-04:00October 27th, 2022|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , |

Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., would like to congratulate eight of our lawyers for being recognized among the 2023 Florida’s Best Lawyers. The attorneys and the firm are honored to win such an esteemed badge of excellence in the legal profession.

  • Andrew R. Pardun
    • Real Estate Law
  • Aubrey O. Dicus, Jr.
    • Commercial Litigation
    • Criminal Defense: White-Collar
    • Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants
    • Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs
  • Bruce Marger
    • Litigation – Trusts and Estates
    • Trusts and Estates
  • Caitlin C. Szematowicz
    • Commercial Litigation
  • Howard P. Ross
    • Corporate Law
    • Litigation – Mergers and Acquisitions
    • Commercial Litigation
    • Commercial Transactions / UCC Law
  • Jonathon Douglas
    • Insurance Law
    • Litigation – Insurance
    • Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs
  • Robert Kapusta, Jr.
    • Real Estate Law
  • Sean K. McQuaid
    • Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs

Andrew R. Pardun

Andrew R. Pardun was recognized in the 2023 edition of Florida’s Best Lawyers for Real Estate Law.

Andrew is currently a partner with the firm, and his areas of practice include Commercial & Residential Title Insurance, Commercial and Residential Real Estate Closings, and Business Law.

Aubrey O. Dicus, Jr.

Aubrey O. Dicus, Jr has been with the firm for almost 50 years and formerly served as President of Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. He is recognized in the 2023 edition of Florida’s Best Lawyers for his practice in Commercial Litigation, White-Collar Criminal Defense and Plaintiff’s Personal Injury Litigation.

Bruce Marger

Bruce Marger is listed in the 2023 edition of Florida’s Best Lawyers for his practice in Litigation and practice in Trusts and Estates.

Bruce’s experience and specialty of legal practice are in the following areas: estate planning, estate and gift tax planning, income tax planning for estates and trusts, probate and trust administration, and real property law, as well as probate and trust litigation and planning related to qualified plan/IRA distributions.

Caitlin C. Szematowicz

Caitlin C. Szematowicz is recognized in the 2023 edition of Florida’s Best Lawyers for her practice in Commercial Litigation.

She is a Partner at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. and has been with the firm since August 2012. Caitlin’s practice areas include Civil & Commercial Litigation, Appeals, and Employment Law (Employers).

Howard P. Ross

Howard P. Ross is listed in the 2023 edition of Florida’s Best Lawyers for his practice in Corporate Law, Mergers and Acquisitions Litigation, Commercial Litigation, and Commercial Transactions / UCC Law.

A respected member of the Florida Bar and the American Bar Association, with over 50 years of membership, Howard has also been recognized as “Lawyer of the Year” for his work in Corporate Law.

Jonathon Douglas

Jonathon Douglas is recognized in the 2023 edition of Florida’s Best Lawyers for his practice in Insurance Law, Insurance Litigation, and Plaintiff’s Personal Injury Litigation.

Robert Kapusta, Jr.

Robert Kapusta, Jr. is recognized in the 2023 edition of Florida’s Best Lawyers for his practice in Real Estate Law.

Robert has extensive experience and practice in all areas of Real Estate Law. In addition, he handles Mergers and Acquisitions, Tax and Estate Planning, and Business and Corporate Law.

Sean K. McQuaid

Sean K. McQuaid is recognized in the 2023 edition of Florida’s Best Lawyers for his practice of Plaintiff’s Personal Injury Litigation.

He is currently the President of Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. Sean was also the President of the St. Petersburg Bar Association for 2020-2021. His legal expertise includes the following areas: personal injury, car accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, wrongful death, and criminal law.

Florida’s Best Lawyers, “Distinguished by Quality”

Recognition from Best Lawyers is among the highest accolades known to clients and professionals in the legal community. As a peer review recognition platform, they have become universally regarded as a guide to legal excellence.

Best Lawyers’ core principle is that “the best lawyers know who the best lawyers are.” They compile a list of the most outstanding lawyers through a rigorous peer-review survey process. Then, only the top lawyers have the privilege of earning the acclaimed Best Lawyer title.

Best Lawyers CEO Phil Greer says, “Since our foundation over 40 years ago, we have been recognizing the accomplishments of top legal professionals.” “Our company proudly continues to find and present the most respected, unbiased legal awards globally.” The company also prides itself on its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. They actively dedicate space for cultural programs and diversity.

About Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A

Founded in 1958, Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. is one of the oldest law firms in Florida. They are a full-service law firm, and each attorney continues to provide exceptional work in their respective practice areas. The firm serves all types and sizes of businesses and individuals.

For more information, visit https://www.stpetelawgroup.com.

12 10, 2022

10 Signs That You Need a Hurricane Ian Claims Lawyer

By |2022-10-12T13:51:28-04:00October 12th, 2022|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law|Tags: , , , , , |

Due to its devastating impact and destruction, millions of people are currently making Hurricane Ian claims in Florida.

The answer lies in the circumstances of your claim, but here’s our underlying message:

Insurance companies are for-profit companies that will do everything possible to minimize their outgoing costs. Florida is facing losses of up to $47 billion, so they may try to manipulate, deny and undervalue their customers.

Here are the ten key signs that it’s time to hire a Hurricane Ian claims lawyer:

When It’s Time to Hire a Hurricane Ian Claims Attorney

1. Distinguishing between Flood Losses and Homeowners Insurance Losses

Your homeowner’s insurance and flood insurance may be disputing the type of damage to either undervalue your claim or deny it entirely. This happens when there is both a flood loss and a homeowners insurance loss. Homeowners insurance carriers will look to place any and all blame on the flood loss attempting to reduce the amount to be paid by the Homeowners insurance carrier.

Our Hurricane Ian claims lawyers will work with you to prove what caused the water damage, wind damage, and flood damage to ensure you get the full benefit of the available insurance coverages.

Read Related: What’s the Difference Between Water Damage & Flood Damage?

2. If Your Claim Has Been Denied

Call a Hurricane Ian claims lawyer fast if your insurance claim has been denied.

There are very few reasons why your claim should be denied entirely, yet insurance companies try it in the hope that their customers will accept it and move on.

In some cases, denials are unjust and can even be in bad faith. Our hurricane Ian claims attorneys can reopen your case and prove that you are entitled to compensation to repair or rebuild your home.

3. If You’re Asked to Sign a Release

If your insurance company asks you to sign a release soon after the storm (or if you still have unresolved damage), then alarm bells should be ringing. Call an attorney so they can review the proposed release.

Just because the storm has passed doesn’t mean the damage has. Hurricane damage can worsen over time, due to weakened foundations, structural damage and more.

A release may be a trick to lure you into limiting how much the insurer owes you.

4. Your Claim Has Been Undervalued

Call a Hurricane Ian claims lawyer fast if your insurance company fails to provide coverage for the entire loss.

It’s not uncommon for insurance companies to cut corners on their estimates to minimize their outgoing cost. But in reality, you will be left to pay out-of-pocket for the remaining repairs and replacements.

An attorney can reveal the true value and scope of the loss by using contractors, engineers and other professionals that specialize in dealing with insurance claims.

Read Related: 10 Signs That Your Insurer Undervalued Your Property Damage Claim

5. Negotiations Are At a Stand-Still

The mere presence of an attorney can help get negotiations moving in the right direction, as the insurance company knows there’s no point messing you around anymore.

6. You’ve Been Told You Don’t Have Coverage or About ‘Loop-Holes’

It’s very easy for an insurance company to overcomplicate things. They know that many customers will accept the idea of mysterious ‘loopholes’ and policy fine print. Don’t fall for this.

If you contact our Hurricane Ian claims lawyers, we’ll review your policy and take action if the insurance company’s claims are baseless.

Common Examples:

  • The adjuster says you’re only entitled to the ‘Actual Cash Value’, but really you should be reimbursed for Replacement Cost.
  • Adjusters say detached buildings are not covered when your policy says they are.

7. You’ve Been Delayed or ‘Ghosted’

Contact a Hurricane Ian lawyer if your insurance carrier may be acting in bad faith.

If your insurance company is not responding or has failed to meet the deadlines, then they must pay your claims. They may also be required to pay penalties and attorney fees if they are found to have acted in bad faith..

8. You’re Advised Not to Use an Attorney

Red flag! You always have the right to use an attorney in a property damage claim. If you’re told otherwise, it means the insurer is trying to hide or get away with something. They cannot and will not penalize you for using an attorney. If that happens to you, think of doing the opposite, fast!

9. You’ve Been Pushed to Admit Fault

Insurance companies may try to trick homeowners into admitting fault to avoid paying out.

You might be asked to admit that you left a door or window open, or that you didn’t realize the damage existed long in advance. Most likely, this isn’t true.

We know navigating the claims process is challenging, but don’t give in. Contact a Hurricane Ian claims attorney so they can handle the claim on your behalf.

10. You’re Bullied or Manipulated

Finally, if your insurer is pressuring you, emotionally bullying you or using any other tricks, then call a property damage lawyer as soon as possible.

Don’t feel like you’re overreacting. We understand what you’re going through. This is your home on the line, and you deserve the maximum possible settlement.

Signs That You Don’t Need a Property Damage Lawyer Yet

Alternatively, there may be signs that you don’t need to pick up the phone just yet.

  • They’re sending new adjusters or specialists to review your property.
  • They’re replying swiftly and treating you with respect.
  • They explain everything clearly.
  • They’re not pressuring you.
  • They’re not undervaluing or denying your claim.
  • You understand and feel confident in the claims process.

Contact a Hurricane Ian Insurance Claim Lawyer Today

Free Consultations!

If you need to make or dispute a Hurricane Ian insurance claim, our Florida property damage attorneys can help.

Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim team nationally ranked by US News and World Reports as a Tier 1 Law Firm, Battaglia Ross Dicus & McQuaid, P.A.

Having previously represented some of the largest insurance companies in the State of Florida, Mr. Douglas uses his inside knowledge and experience to help navigate hurricane insurance disputes.

Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.

6 10, 2022

Type of Damage to Look for After Hurricane Ian

By |2022-10-06T13:23:03-04:00October 6th, 2022|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law|Tags: , , , , |

Hurricane Ian’s devastating destruction path is expected to total over $40 billion in property damage claims.

While a lot of this damage will be glaringly obvious, there will be other types of damage that can be easily overlooked. We advise you to inspect your home for the following types of damage to ensure you can make a thorough property damage claim – and not be forced to pay out of pocket later!

Read Related: Hurricane Ian Property Damage Claim Tips and Tricks

Unexpected Property Damage to Look for After Hurricane Ian

When you return to your property, be sure to look for signs of the following damage:

Mold Caused by Flooding

With Hurricane Ian’s extensive flooding, your home may suffer from flood damage and high humidity. Even if flood water has since left, mold damage may remain.

Look for signs of mold growth behind appliances, furniture and in hidden areas. It can grow very fast and pose a risk to your health. If you don’t identify it early, your insurer may claim you didn’t mitigate it.

Mold caused by Hurricane Ian flood water should be covered under a ‘flood insurance claim’.

However, if there is water that entered through a roof, windows or doors, then this may be an issue to be addressed by your Homeowners insurance policy.

Read Related: Should Your Mold Insurance Claim Actually Be a Water Damage Claim?

Damaged Carpeting

Rain leaks or flooding are likely to damage carpeting in your home. If it looks damaged, your insurance company should cover the carpet removal and replacement costs.

However, your insurance carrier may state that they’ll only cover the damaged part of the carpet – but of course, you’ll need to remove the whole thing. In that case, you’ll need to fight hard to avoid being underpaid. That’s where a property damage lawyer can help.

Damaged Roof Tiles and Shingles

Hurricane Ian roof damage can look very obvious. But for some homeowners, it may be easy to overlook.

Shingles and tiles are common victims of strong winds and may need replacing.

If you have missing or damaged shingles or tiles, it could lead to further damage in the future from strong winds or rain – leading to flooding and structural damage.

Take a look from ground level for signs of damage, and take photos as necessary. Your insurance company should provide an assessment of your roof, but it can also be wise to get an independent roof inspection to reveal the true cost of damage.

Roof Gutters

Roof Gutters are susceptible to strong winds and may have been pulled from its joints. Look for signs of unbalanced or loose gutters. If you don’t fix it, it can lead to issues the next time there’s heavy rain.

Destroyed Appliances

In the wake of damage to your home from Hurricane Ian, it’s easy to overlook appliances. From washer-dryers to TVs and fridges, these appliances may be destroyed by flood waters or debris within the home.

If they’re sitting in the water, have cracks, signs of water residue or other notable damage signs, then they may need to be replaced.

Electrical Systems

Damage to your home’s electrical system is not something to try to repair yourself. It can be deadly. If your home has been hit by Hurricane Ian it is advised to get a professional in to check the state of your home’s electrical system.

Damaged Trees and Branches

Thousands of trees have been uprooted and damaged due to Hurricane Ian. If you have a tree near your property, take a look at it. If the branches are snapped, loose or weakened, then they may pose a risk to your home. Tree removal may be required. Your insurance policy may have coverage for debris clean up that could be helpful in the days, weeks and months after Ian has passed.

Windows and Doors

Take a second look at your windows and doors. They may have been dislodged from their frames or damaged from wind or flooding.

Structural Damage

Returned to your home and only noticed signs of mold, broken windows and water?

It may not end there. Your property may have suffered structural damage. It can be wise to hire an independent engineer or estimator to determine if your home has suffered structural damage.

Remember to Mitigate Your Damage!

You’re not expected to make significant repairs, but you should take measures to mitigate further damage – if safe to do so.

Boarding up broken windows, doors and other entrances can reduce the chance of further wind or rain damage. Tarping your damaged roof or taking steps to dry out your home are additional examples of mitigation. You can do this DIY or by hiring a professional. Store all receipts and proof of purchase so you can submit them as part of your Hurricane Ian property damage claim.

Do I Need a Property Damage Lawyer for a Hurricane Ian Insurance Claim?

Following Hurricane Ian, Insurance companies will be swamped by insurance claims. They’ll be doing everything they can to minimize their outgoing costs, which means undervaluing and denying claims.

They sometimes use manipulation, delaying tactics and other tricks to make you accept lowball offers.

A property damage lawyer can take care of the fight on your behalf. From paperwork to negotiations, we use our extensive experience to recover the money you are entitled to under your insurance policies.

Don’t leave it to chance. Don’t pay out of pocket. Call a property damage lawyer today.

Contact a Hurricane Ian Insurance Attorney Today

Free Consultations!

If you need to make a Hurricane Ian property damage claim in Florida, then our property damage lawyers can help.

Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim team nationally ranked by US News and World Reports as a Tier 1 Law Firm, Battaglia Ross Dicus & McQuaid, P.A.

Having previously represented some of the largest insurance companies in the State of Florida, Mr. Douglas uses his inside knowledge and experience to help you navigate Hurricane Ian insurance claims.

Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.

1 10, 2022

Florida Is Preventing Insurers From Cancellations and Non-renewals After Hurricane Ian

By |2022-10-01T13:23:09-04:00October 1st, 2022|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law|Tags: , , , , |

Hurricane Ian made landfall Wednesday, September 28, 2022, in Southwest Florida and barrelled through Central Florida before moving to the Atlantic Ocean.

With the aftermath wreaking havoc for many Florida homeowners, a new emergency order might be a saving grace for some. In addition, the temporary order may protect homeowners from losing their policies. Here’s what you need to know.

What Is the Emergency Order?

In light of Hurricane Ian, Florida temporarily prohibits insurers from dropping customers. This week, Insurance Commissioner David Altamaier issued an emergency order temporarily blocking cancellations and non-renewals of policies.

The order is set to last for two months. According to the emergency order, “Between September 28, 2022, and November 28, 2022, insurers or other entities regulated under the Florida Insurance Code may not:

  • Cancel or on-renew
  • Issue a notice of cancellation or non-renewal of a policy or contract

This applies to any insurance policy covering property or risk in Florida. The exception to this emergency order is when there is a written request or written agreement of the policyholder.

What’s the Purpose of the Emergency Order?

The Emergency order is to protect homeowners and property insurance policyholders. In addition, the order will temporarily protect homeowners from losing their policies if Hurricane Ian damages their property. Under the order, insurers are barred from canceling or non-renewing policies for a minimum of 90 days after the property repairs.

Insurance Commissioner Altmaier ordered a similar order following Hurricanes Irma(2017), and Michael 2018 which devastated much of Florida.

Florida’s Troubled Insurance Market

The order came amid pre-existing concerns about how Hurricane Ian, a Category 4 hurricane, will affect an already struggling insurance market. Six insurance companies in Florida have been deemed insolvent since February 2022. Other companies have dropped thousands of policies to cut their financial losses. As a result, many dropped customers have turned to the state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. for coverage.

Governor Ron DeSantis has publicly expressed his confidence in the company, stating that “Citizens Property Insurance Corp. will not have a problem paying claims.” Despite being created as an insurer or last resort, the company has nearly 1.1 million policies. They also have the largest number of policies in Southeast Florida and the Tampa Bay area.

DeSantis claims to have spoken with Citizens, saying that the company feels good about being solvent through this. “They have about a $6 to $7 billion surplus,” DeSantis said, referring to Citizens’ money available to pay claims.

Previous Reform in Florida’s Property Insurance Provided Relief for Floridians

With Florida insurers facing insolvency and financial calamity, DeSantis called a special legislative session in May to try to strengthen the industry. Lawmakers agreed to spend $2 billion to provide a “layer of reinsurance” to property insurers. The bipartisan legislation Governor DeSantis implemented in May was one of the most significant and comprehensive property insurance reforms Florida has seen in decades. It provided short and long-term relief to Floridians to combat skyrocketing insurance costs.

The $2 billion will be reinsurance for insurance carriers to buy from reinsurance companies and the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund. Reinsurance is backup insurance for carriers and plays a vital role in the Florida market. Hurricane Ian is supposed to be the “first test” of the $2 billion reinsurance. Property insurance is already a tough market, and a category four hurricane like Ian will only make conditions more demanding. Reinsurance rates were already increasing before the hurricane, but reinsurers have added pressure to raise their rates now.

A significant part of Ian’s damage is expected to come from flooding, which is insured through the National Flood Insurance Program rather than private companies.

DeSantis explained that a lot would depend on private carriers’ financial situations. They must prove they are capitalized enough to pass “stress tests.” This year, that stress test was Hurricane Ian. They had to show that they had enough capital to pass that “stress test.” He said that all private carriers have reinsurance and that the CAT fund (Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund) is the highest it’s ever been, at $17 billion.

Get Legal Help For Storm and Hurricane Damage

If you are a Florida resident, we hope you and your loved ones have stayed safe through Hurricane Ian. We all know the devastating power of hurricanes and the property damage they can cause.

If you need legal assistance with a property damage claim, contact us today or call (727) 381-2300.

Schedule your no-risk, free consultation today.

28 09, 2022

Hurricane Ian Property Damage Claim Tips and Tricks

By |2022-09-29T16:29:43-04:00September 28th, 2022|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law|Tags: , , |

If you’re about to make a Hurricane Ian property damage claim, we highly advise that you learn these tips and tricks first. With over 2.5 million Floridians ordered to evacuate, insurance companies will be facing thousands of calls this week, and you’ll be treated as a drop in the ocean. They will be striving to pay you as little as possible!

What to Know Before Making Your Hurricane Ian Property Damage Claim

1. Contact a Property Damage Claim Attorney Immediately

Your priority should be contacting a Hurricane Ian property damage claim attorney. You can call us today for a free consultation.

Remember, insurers are for-profit and care more about their profits than their customers! They’ll be doing everything to manipulate, exploit and ultimately undervalue your claim.

A property damage claims attorney will make this extremely stressful time easier and ensure you get the maximum possible settlement. They will provide you with specific advice for your circumstances, handle conflicts and negotiations and give you the space to breathe.

If your insurer says that you don’t have the right to speak to an attorney, they are lying. You always have the right to speak and work with a property damage lawyer.

2. You Need to Notify Your Insurance Company Fast

It’s important you contact your insurer as soon as possible to let them know your property has sustained damage. Request an adjuster to be sent to assess the damage. Informing your insurance company early prevents you from being accused of not taking responsible action.

3. Document Everything!

Our number one piece of advice for Hurricane Ian property damage claims is to document, document and document again!

Your word alone doesn’t mean a thing to insurance companies. They need proof. Take photos and videos of the property once it’s safe to do so, before you clean or make temporary repairs. And when you’re finished, take some more!

This may include photos and videos of:

  • External and internal structural damage (no matter how small).
  • Water or flooding
  • Damage to windows and doors.
  • Plumbing damage
  • Roof damage
  • Electrical damage
  • Damage to appliances
  • Damage to personal possessions
  • Vehicle damage
  • Damage to your yard, trees and external furnishings.
  • Debris

Read Related: What’s the Difference Between Water Damage & Flood Damage?

4. List What You’ve Lost

Make an inventory of everything that’s been damaged or lost in Hurricane Ian. From your TV to collectible baseball cards, it’s all worth noting so that nothing is overlooked by your insurance company. Note the year of model numbers and brand names if possible.

5. Collect Receipts

Hopefully, you still have access to stuff like receipts and proof of purchases. These can be used to prove the value of appliances, items and personal possessions.

Any repair or accommodation bills related to Hurricane Ian should also be kept safe. You’ll use these later to get your money back.

6. Track Your Communication with Your Insurer

Take notes of every call, email or letter you get from your insurance company. Your notes should include:

  • Date and time of the call.
  • The name of the insurance representative.
  • The details and information discussed during the call or email.

7. Make Temporary Emergency Repairs

You are not expected to fix significant damage immediately, but you must take action to mitigate further damage. If you don’t, your coverage could be reduced or denied entirely.

Keep all the receipts of materials you’ve purchased or professional repair services required. You can include this in your Hurricane Ian property damage claim later.

8. Don’t Assume the Insurer’s Estimate Is Correct

As previously stated, insurance companies will be working to minimize their outgoing costs. They often give incorrect estimates. You need to be skeptical.

Ideally, get an independent evaluation of your property. The best homeowner’s insurance claims attorney will have the resources to get you a reputable independent estimate.

These quotes and estimates can then be used during negotiations with your insurer.

9. Review Your Insurance Policy

We often see insurers claim that policyholders don’t have sufficient coverage or that there is a loophole. Don’t take their word for it. They often make mistakes or misinterpret the insurance policy coverages.

Pull out your homeowner’s insurance policy and read the details. If something doesn’t add up, or you’re confused, call a Hurricane Ian property damage attorney immediately.

Make sure you know:

  • Coverage limits.
  • What’s covered
  • What’s not covered
  • What your deductible is.

Read Related: What’s Covered in a Hurricane Insurance Claim?

10. Know These Insurance Industry Tactics!

These are big warnings signs that your Hurricane Ian insurance claim is being treated unfairly:

  • Undervalued claims
  • Denied Claims
  • Delaying tactics
  • Manipulation and/or bullying
  • Incorrect policy coverage claims
  • Slow responses or no responses
  • You’re blamed for the damage
  • You’re told you don’t have the right to speak to a lawyer.

Florida Property Damage Attorneys Specializing in Hurricane Ian Insurance Claims

Free Consultations!

If you need to make a Hurricane Ian property damage claim in Florida, then contact us today.

Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim team nationally ranked by US News and World Reports as a Tier 1 Law Firm, Battaglia Ross Dicus & McQuaid, P.A.

Having previously represented some of the largest insurance companies in the State of Florida, Mr. Douglas uses his inside knowledge and experience to help you navigate Hurricane Ian insurance claims.

Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.

6 09, 2022

How to Prepare for a Hurricane Damage Claim Before it Hits

By |2022-09-06T15:38:17-04:00September 6th, 2022|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law|Tags: , , , |

Knowing how to prepare for a hurricane damage claim before it hits is wise for all Florida residents. With more than 32 million U.S. homes at risk of hurricane damage, many people may need to file a claim in the future.

When a hurricane does hit, paperwork and documentation will either be too big a stress to handle or too late to search for. If you’re not prepared, your insurance company will use all sorts of reasons to minimize your settlement. They even try when you are prepared!

As experienced hurricane damage attorneys, we recommend taking the following steps to ensure you’re prepared for a hurricane damage claim in advance.

Steps to Prepare for a Hurricane Insurance Claim

Review Your Home Insurance Policy

Insurance companies try to take advantage of customers who lack knowledge. They often try to minimize costs by saying things like “you don’t have sufficient coverage” or “there’s a loophole”.

But if you know what your homeowners’ policy contains, you can fight back against their unfair denial and mind games.

Make sure you:

  • Have an up-to-date copy of your insurance policy
  • Keep a hard and digital copy.
  • Review your policy, so you know the details of your policy

Know your:

  • Coverage limits.
  • What your insurance covers;
  • What your insurance doesn’t cover;
  • What your deductible is.

If you don’t feel confident understanding the policy language when making a claim, contact a property damage attorney.

Think About Flood Insurance

Did you know that flood damage isn’t covered in a standard homeowners insurance policy in Florida? Water damage and flood damage policies are different.

Many people are unaware and are left to pay out-of-pocket for flood damage. If you live in a hurricane-prone area like Florida, then this is an essential thing to think about.

  • Water damage policies cover damage caused by issues in the house, such as plumbing or burst pipes.
  • Flood insurance policies cover damage caused by external factors, such as natural disasters and floods.

Document All Your Belongings

Insurance adjusters will calculate how much damage you’ve suffered, from your home to your belongings. However, they get things wrong.

They need to know what you’ve lost. And ideally, with proof of the purchase price. You should make a list of your belongings and if possible, store all receipts in a safe location.

However, it’s often near impossible to do this after a hurricane. When the house looks upside, it can be hard to remember every missing or damaged item – let alone the price or specifics.

You should keep an up-to-date list of all your possessions, including:

  • Original price
  • Purchase date
  • Purchase location
  • Model number
  • Year of manufacture
  • Specific details that affect the value
  • Take photos

The more information you have about your belongings, the stronger your hurricane damage claim will be. With all this detail, your property damage lawyer can prove to an insurance company its mistakes if their settlement offer is too low.

Document the ‘Before’ Condition of Your Home

Sadly, insurance agents sometimes claim that property damage existed prior to the natural disaster.

To battle this when making your hurricane damage claim, you can show them photos of how it looked before.

To do this, take photos of your home (inside and outside) now. It will prove that your guttering, roofing, door frames, plumbing, windows, trees and other structural components are all in good condition and not to blame for hurricane damage.

Store Documentation in a Safe Place

Once you’ve done all the above, store it in a safe place. Ideally, make a digital copy and a hard copy.

The digital copy should be saved on a cloud storage space (or email it yourself).

The hard copy should be stored somewhere that isn’t vulnerable to external damage or water damage. Such as, in a cupboard high above the floor, in a safe or waterproof bag.

Take Documentation When Evacuating

When it’s time to evacuate from a hurricane, take the documents with you – if safe to do so. It is often hard to know when you’ll return and what condition the home will be in.

Taking the documents guarantees that they’ll be protected and available when it’s time to make a hurricane damage claim.

This is also a good time to mention that it’s wise to collect other important items, such as

  • Estate planning documents
  • Insurance policy documents
  • Vehicle titles and registration
  • Insurance documents
  • Medication
  • Irreplaceable sentimental belongings.

Read the U.S. government’s official advice page for tips on preparing for a hurricane.

View Florida hurricane forecast.

Are Your Contact Details Up to Date?

It may have been years since you signed up for your home insurance coverage. You might now have a new cell phone number or a new email address.

Ensure your contact details are up to date so that your insurance company can contact you easily after a hurricane. You should know what number to call to make a claim.

Know The Tricks of an Insurance Company

Knowing the secret tactics of insurance adjusters before you call them can help you avoid being manipulated into a low-ball offer or rejection.

Common tactics include:

  • Tricking you to admit fault
  • Delaying
  • False deadlines
  • Policy loophole claims
  • Requesting Unnecessary Documentation
  • Undervaluing Your Claim
  • Saying it’s forbidden to use an attorney
  • Being overly friendly
  • False promises
  • Slow and tiring negotiations

Read Related: Tips for Filing Insurance Claims for Hurricane Property Damage in Florida

Contact a Florida Homeowners Insurance Claim Attorney Today

Free Consultations!

If you need to make a property damage claim, negotiate or tackle an unfair insurance claim adjuster, our Florida property damage attorneys can help.

Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim team nationally ranked by US News and World Reports as a Tier 1 Law Firm, Battaglia Ross Dicus & McQuaid, P.A.

Having previously represented some of the largest insurance companies in the State of Florida, Mr. Douglas uses his inside knowledge and experience to help you navigate insurance disputes.

Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.

2 08, 2022

10 Signs That Your Insurer Undervalued Your Property Damage Claim

By |2022-08-02T08:53:00-04:00August 2nd, 2022|Categories: Insurance Claims|Tags: , , |

An undervalued or underpaid property damage claim can force you to pay the remaining repair bills yourself, which could be thousands of dollars.

Insurance companies are notorious for doing everything they can to minimize their outgoing costs. Remember – they’re for-profit and care more about their finances than your stress levels or bank balance.

But that doesn’t mean you have to accept their low-ball offers. You should, as a paying customer, receive the maximum possible settlement.

Here are the top red flags that your insurer has undervalued your property damage claim:

How to Know If Your Insurer Has Undervalued Your Property Damage Claim

1. Their Estimate Seems Too Low

If you feel that the estimate is too low, trust your gut and intuition. More often than not, if you suspect it’s too low, then it probably is.

A good way to be sure is to gather as much evidence and information about the damage from day one. Gather receipts and independent quotes to repair the damage.

If the insurance company’s estimate doesn’t come close to yours, they may have been acting in bad faith or made careless errors. In which case, it’s time to act and contact a property damage attorney for swift legal support.

2. The Insurance Adjuster Rushed the Property Inspection

Soon after you open your claim, an insurance adjuster will visit the property to assess the damage and determine what needs repairing or replacing. Sometimes, these adjusters will rush their job.

Whether they’re careless or have bad faith intentions, it can leave you with a lower settlement offer than you need.

If you experience an adjuster quickly walking around the property without paying attention to the details, then alarm bells should be ringing.

3. Your Insurance Claim Is Being Processed Quicker Than Expected

While everyone wants quick service after a disaster, a big red flag is if things go unusually quickly. For example, you might be given an offer the same day you call them. This might also come in a ‘take it or leave it’ style of offer.

Your settlement should cover the true value of the property damage and nothing less.

4. Damage Was Overlooked

Review the insurance settlement document carefully to ensure all damaged elements are covered under the policy.

If damage has been overlooked in your settlement offer or communications with your insurance company, you need to act.

The insurance adjuster may have made a mistake or acted in bad faith, forcing you to pay out of pocket to repair your property.

5. Part of Your Claim Was Denied

Similarly, if any part of your claim was denied, then your property damage insurance claim may be undervalued.

Denial of claims can come in all sorts of forms (which are mentioned below) and are commonly used to save insurance companies money.

If your property damage claim has been denied or partially denied, it’s not game over. The case can be reopened. Contact a property damage attorney as soon as possible.

6. You’ve Been Offered the Actual Cash Value, Instead of Replacement Costs

Your insurance carrier may also offer to pay the actual cash value instead of the full cost required to replace or repair the property.

‘Actual cash value’ is what the property or appliance is worth today, not what it will cost to replace or repair it.

7. They Claim You Caused Damage

If your insurance carrier believes or accuses you of causing damage (or failing to mitigate damage), it’s a common sign that they’re cutting out parts of your claim. For example, they may say water damage was because you left a window open – when in reality, you didn’t.

8. Repair Quotes Are Less Than Expected

It’s advised that you receive an independent quote from a contractor for repairs, so you can ensure you’re not getting undervalued by your property damage claims insurer.

If the repair quotes are less than expected, it’s time to call an attorney to avoid covering the remaining bills.

9. You’re Told Not to Contact an Attorney

If you’re warned that you can’t contact an insurance lawyer without voiding your insurance policy, then do the exact opposite!

This threat is nonsense and hints that the insurance company wants to hide its bad-faith tactics. They may be lowering your settlement payment.

10. You’re Told About a Loophole or Lack of Coverage

Another common sign that your insurer has undervalued your property damage claim is when you’ve been told about a lack of coverage or loopholes.

While in Florida, you need to be aware of the difference between flood and water damage, you should be sensitive to any claims that you can’t get coverage for certain areas of the home.

If you do hear this, there’s a good chance you’re being tricked. Carefully review your policy documents and contact an attorney as soon as possible.

What To Do If Your Property Damage Claim Has Been Undervalued?

If your insurer has denied or undervalued your property damage claim, contact a property damage insurance lawyer immediately.

They will aggressively fight on your behalf to get the maximum possible settlement, closing down any tricks or manipulation attempted by the insurer. You deserve a fair settlement and their legal expertise will get it.

If necessary, they will be able to take legal action, but in most cases, the mere presence of a reputable lawyer is enough for the insurance company to wake up and act fairly.

Read related: The 10 Mistakes You Should Never Make When Filing Home Insurance Claims

Florida Property Damage Attorneys

Free Consultations!

If your insurance carrier has undervalued or denied your property damage claim after a disaster, then our Florida property damage attorneys can help.

Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim team nationally ranked by US News and World Reports as a Tier 1 Law Firm, Battaglia Ross Dicus & McQuaid, P.A.

Having previously represented some of the largest insurance companies in the State of Florida, Mr. Douglas uses his inside knowledge and experience to help you navigate property damage insurance claims.

Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.

26 07, 2022

Florida, the Lightning Capital of the United States

By |2022-07-26T12:24:44-04:00July 26th, 2022|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , |

As a peninsula surrounded by water, Florida sees weather disturbances every year. Florida’s heat, humidity, and winds create the perfect conditions for thunderstorms.

If you live in Florida, you’re probably well acquainted with the turbulent weather patterns. You’ve probably also witnessed a good amount of lightning. But, hopefully, you’ve never had or will need to deal with lightning damage. However, if you live in Florida, that likelihood is higher than in other states. If your home has been subjected to lightning-related damages, contact a Florida property damage attorney today who can help you recover the compensation you deserve.

Florida, the Lightning Capital of the United States

Florida is no stranger to turbulent weather patterns as a state that regularly experiences hurricanes and tropical storms.

Lightning is an incredibly frightening force of nature that Florida is all too familiar with. It can cause fires and power surges, leading to extensive property damage.

Florida sees so much lightning annually that the National Weather Service has given it the distinction of “lightning capital of the US.” In the past month alone, there have been numerous lightning-produced house fires, one in Tampa and another one in Valrico, to name a few.

The area between Orlando and Tampa is a high-risk zone with the highest lightning strike rate in Central Florida. If you live in this area, you are probably familiar with regular thunderstorms throughout the year.

The high frequency of lightning in Central Florida can be attributed to its geographic location and highland climate, compared to lower temperatures on both sides of the peninsula.

As the lightning capital, Florida is the leading state for lightning-related property damage claims. While lightning damage may seem like a freak accident with a low probability, you’d be surprised how common they are in Florida. In fact, lightning strikes cause about $400 million in damage annually in the US.

Lightning Damage Statistics in Florida and the US

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), Florida is the top state in the nation for lightning insurance losses. Here are some additional statistics:

  • In 2021, there were 5,339 lightning damage claims in Florida
  • The total value of claims in 2021 amounted to $88.3 million
  • The average cost per claim in 2021 was $16,552

Some national statistics on lightning-related damage claims in the US:

  • While 2020 was the fourth consecutive year with a decrease in the number of lightning damage claims in the country, the average cost of claims more than doubled since 2017
  • Lightning-related claims dropped 6.9% from 2019 to 2020, but the value of the claims increased by 124.6% ($920.1 million in 2019 to $2.1 billion in 2020)
  • While Florida takes the lead with the highest count of annual claims, California usually has the highest average cost per claim due to the severity of destruction from lightning-produced fires.
  • The average cost per claim in 2021 for California was about $154,574.

What Types of Damage Can Lightning Cause?

There is an average of $451 million in direct property damage caused yearly by lightning. The damage that results from lightning can be much more damaging than homeowners realize.

When lightning strikes, it can cause electrical surges that result in deadly fires and severe damage. It can damage appliances, electronics, computers, phone systems, electrical fixtures, air conditioning systems, and the entire electrical foundation of a home.

If lighting hits the inner parts of the walls in a house, it can cause a surge in the electrical circuits, which would cause a house fire. In addition, lightning can potentially ruin your home’s plumbing system. If lightning hits any of your plumbing, it can cause leaks and water damage.

Even lightning that does not directly strike your home but hits the ground can cause issues for your home. The shock waves created by lightning can ruin the foundation of your house.

Steps To Take After Your House Gets Damaged By Lightning

If you want to file a property insurance claim after your house gets struck by lightning, you’ll need to follow a few crucial steps.

First, take pictures and note all damages to your property. Next, contact your insurance company and make a claim. Create a thorough list of all damaged items and property. Then, call your local fire department as soon as possible, and note the date and time you called them. The next step is to contact a professional electrician or plumber to inspect your house and document the damage caused by lightning.

Sometimes insurance companies deny claims because homeowners do not provide sufficient evidence to prove that lightning caused the damage. That’s why it’s vital to take pictures of all damage from lightning, like holes or asphalt.

Lastly, the most critical step will be to get a Florida property damage attorney who can guide you through the claims process and help protect your legal rights as a homeowner.

How Long Do I Have To Make a Lightning Damage Claim?

Florida’s statutes allow homeowners to file a damage lawsuit five years after the lightning strikes. However, bear in mind that insurance companies require policyholders to file a claim much sooner, usually within 60 days of the incident.

Once you submit an insurance claim, the insurance company will investigate your claim and respond. In addition, they will probably offer you a settlement to compensate you for repairs and other damages you may have incurred.

Florida Property Damage Claim Attorneys

Sadly, Florida homes suffer the consequences of natural disasters like hurricanes and lightning every year. When that happens, you need an experienced property damage attorney who will fight on your behalf to get you the compensation you deserve. Furthermore, having strong litigators who can negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf means you can focus on repairing your home.

Contact an experienced Florida property damage attorney today for a free consultation, or call (727) 381-2300.