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21 04, 2020

2020 Hurricane Season Forecast

By |2020-04-21T18:50:20-04:00April 21st, 2020|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law|Tags: , , , |

The COVID-19 global pandemic has impacted countries, communities, and families across the world. Here in Florida, not only are we learning to adjust and operate within the new “normal”, we also have to be aware of the upcoming 2020 Hurricane Season. At Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., St. Petersburg Property Damage Attorney Jonathon Douglas handles all types of losses associated with homeowner’s insurance claims, including hurricane losses. Reviewing your hurricane preparedness plan before the hurricanes start forming is best practice. Closely monitoring developing systems and forecasts is also critical. But what are the experts saying about how active the 2020 Hurricane Season will be?

Hurricane Season Forecast from The Weather Company

According to www.weather.com,, the hurricane outlook as predicted by The Weather Company for the Atlantic Basin is as follows:

  • 18 Total Named Storms
  • 9 Hurricanes
  • 4 Major Hurricanes (Category 3 or Higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale)

To put this in perspective, the 30 year average is 13 named storms, with 7 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes. The Weather Company’s prediction indicates an above average 2020 Hurricane Season which technically begins June 1, 2020 and runs through November 30, 2020. Storms can sometimes develop outside of hurricane season but these are more of a rarity (e.g. Subtropical Storm Andrea in May, 2019, Tropical Storm Alberto in May, 2018 and Tropical Storm Arlene in April, 2017).

The Weather Company’s chief meteorologist, Dr. Todd Crawford developed the forecast and said, “weighing all of the factors, we have started the bidding at 18 named storms, nine hurricanes and four major hurricanes for the 2020 North Atlantic tropical season.” While the forecasted number of named storms is higher than average, the main data point is how many of these named storms will make landfall and impact home and business owners. This of course is impossible to predict. For example, the 2010 North Atlantic Hurricane Season was tied for the third most active Atlantic Hurricane Seasons as far as named storms are concerned (with 19 named storms); however, no hurricanes made landfall in the United States. In Contrast, 2017 was the 5th most active North Atlantic Hurricane Season at 17 named storms, with 3 major hurricanes (Harvey, Irma, and Maria) impacting the United States and Puerto Rico. With these numbers in mind and the utter unpredictable nature of whether any hurricanes will impact the United States, knowledge and preparation are keys to making sure your family and your property are protected.

El Nino-Southern Oscillation Hurricane Season Forecast

One of the many factors that are considered by forecasters, including Dr. Crawford at The Weather Company, is the status of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). This phenomenon is often referred to just as “El Nino”, or its opposite, “La Nina”. El Nino and La Nina are opposite phases of the ENSO which is a scientific term describing ocean and atmospheric temperature variations in the east central equatorial Pacific Ocean. El Nino is known as the warm phase with La Nina being the cold phase. All forecasters agree that predicting the ENSO is very difficult and accordingly, its impact on hurricane forecasts should be viewed with this caveat in mind. Historically, the North Atlantic Hurricane Season is more active when the ENSO is in a La Nina period. The cool waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean typically cause less wind shear in the Atlantic. Generally, more wind shear creates less favorable conditions for hurricane development. Additionally, La Nina is associated with causing weaker low-level winds in the Caribbean Sea. Looking at the forecasts for ENSO during the 2020 Hurricane season shows mostly an agreement across the experts suggesting a neutral ENSO (neither El Nino or La Nina) during the first part of the 2020 Hurricane season with a slight uptick in probability of La Nina during the second part of the 2020 Hurricane Season. For some perspective, 2010 was a La Nina year as was 2011. Both 2010 and 2011 are tied for the third most active North Atlantic Hurricane seasons with both seasons having 19 named storms. La Nina conditions also occurred during the second half of the 2017 Hurricane Season which saw Harvey, Irma and Maria develop and have devastating impacts for the United States and Puerto Rico.

How the Sea Surface Temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean Affects Hurricane Season

In addition to the ENSO, one variable that we commonly hear forecasters discuss is the sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean. Unlike the ENSO unpredictability, the Atlantic sea surface temperatures correlate somewhat well with forecasting the activity level of any given hurricane season. Higher sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic foretell a more active season for hurricanes. Regarding the 2020 Hurricane season, Dr. Crawford was quoted as saying the sea surface temperatures are very warm thus “supporting a big season”. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provides daily sea surface temperature analysis which can be accessed here.

The Sahara Desert’s Affect on Hurricane Season

Another factor, which is not so often discussed in hurricane development and forecasting, is the Sahara Desert. The hot, dry desert air of the Sahara Desert interacts with the cooler and wetter air coming from the region south of the Sahara Desert which creates a high altitude wind named the African Easterly Jet. The African Easterly Jet is unstable and thus prone to helping the developments of north to south waves of weather which move westward off the coast of Africa. These waves of weather can develop into a hurricane provided they encounter the correct conditions. Take a look at the diagram below to see that many hurricanes begin at the intersection of the Sahara Desert and the green forests which border it to the south.

Understanding Your Insurance Policy

As the 2020 Hurricane Season rapidly approaches while the United States is still battling the COVID-19 crisis, homeowners and businesses should take time to be prepared for the active hurricane season the forecasters have predicted. Be sure that you and your family have a hurricane preparedness plan in place. Be sure that you have easy access to your insurance information and know how to report a claim. The days and weeks following a hurricane can be chaotic, stressful and downright frightening. Know that you will be required to comply with the conditions of your insurance policy when reporting your claim. Take time now to get familiar with your reporting and mitigation obligations. If you have any questions about this upcoming Hurricane Season or need help understanding your insurance policy, contact St. Petersburg Property Damage Attorney Jonathon Douglas for a free consultation.

26 01, 2019

Lawyers Who Sue Insurance Companies on Behalf of Policyholders

By |2019-01-26T17:15:56-05:00January 26th, 2019|Categories: Insurance Claims|Tags: , |

As lawyers who sue insurance companies on behalf of policyholders, we get asked these questions often; “What happens if my insurance company doesn’t pay“, or “Can I sue my own insurance company? We will pursue your insurance claim for you against your own insurance company, and yes, you can sue your own insurance company.

This scenario arises most often in the context of underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage disputes and homeowner’s insurance coverage disputes. In the underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage dispute scenario, a policyholder has been paying their policy premiums to their insurance company like GEICO, State Farm or Allstate for insurance benefits in the event that they are in an auto accident and the at-fault party does not carry adequate insurance or is completely uninsured. Most drivers believe that because they have UM coverage, their insurance company will take care of their personal injury damages without question. Unfortunately for policyholders in the State of Florida, insurers like GEICO, State Farm or Allstate, fight tooth and nail to not pay their own policyholder’s UM benefits. Many of our clients have never been in a scenario like this before and as such, are absolutely dumbfounded and shocked by their own insurance company’s not paying benefits due and owing. This exact scenario is why hiring an attorney for your UM case is imperative.

In the context of homeowner’s insurance coverage, many policyholders do not realize that they are able to challenge decisions made by their own insurance company. For example, if you have suffered a water loss as a result of a broken water line or plumbing fixture, most people file an insurance claim with their homeowner’s insurance company. The insurance company will send out one of their field adjustors to determine the scope and value of the loss. Obviously, this individual is working for the insurance company and does not have the policyholder’s best interest at heart. Many homeowners get a paltry payout for substantial water damage and think they are not able to get a second opinion or that they are unable to challenge their own insurance company. This couldn’t be further from the truth! In this scenario, quickly getting an experienced attorney involved to act as your advocate in securing the appropriate amount of insurance coverage is imperative. While immediately filing a lawsuit against your insurance company is not necessary, insurers like Tower Hill, Florida Peninsula, Universal, and Citizens engage in dilatory tactics and oftentimes are simply unresponsive to any settlement overtures and therefore force their own policyholder into filing a lawsuit to protect their interest and their most valuable asset, their home.

In the homeowner’s insurance context, when a policyholder sues their own insurance company and obtains a judgment against their insurance company, the homeowner’s attorney’s fees are paid for by the insurance company and this is not only a way in which the homeowner has the best chance of being made whole, it also acts as a negotiation tool during litigation because insurance companies know that they do not want to be on the losing side of a Breach of Contract lawsuit related to their failure to pay insurance benefits to their own policyholders.

Whether you have an underinsured or uninsured motorist claim, or a homeowner’s insurance company not paying you what you are rightfully owed, Jonathon Douglas is an experienced lawyer who sues insurance companies on behalf of you, the policyholder. If you or a family member has any questions with regard to what type of insurance coverage you have, either on your automobile or your homeowner’s insurance, please contact me for a free insurance review and consultation.

One of the worst situations that we see in our practice is when a person or family member is severely injured in an automobile accident or has a severe property damage claim to their home and are not adequately protected by insurance. While we become our client’s greatest advocates in their fight against their insurance company, if there is no insurance to cover a particular loss or not adequate insurance, oftentimes these results are a major financial burden. This is why we take pride in educating anyone we can regarding insurance coverage and the applicability of the laws in the State of Florida related to same.

We look forward to helping you and your family members navigate the potential pitfalls of UM insurance coverage and homeowners insurance coverage.

2 10, 2018

Will President Trump’s Tariffs Impact Insurance Claims?

By |2018-10-02T16:22:04-04:00October 2nd, 2018|Categories: Fire Damage Law, Hurricane Damage Law, Insurance Claims, Tree Damage Law|Tags: , |

The news outlets have been covering the various different sectors which President Trump’s recent tariffs on steel and aluminum have impacted. Everything from auto manufacturing, small business manufacturing, and even the military. But will President Trump’s tariffs impact the property insurance industry? The most direct way the tariffs will impact the property insurance industry will be the delay in applicable pricing standards to be applied to property insurance claims.

Imagine you file a claim for roof damage as a result of a hurricane or a wind event. Now your insurance company will assign a field adjustor who will come out to your property and evaluate the damages. Assuming they determine it is a covered loss, they will then determine how much it will cost to replace the damaged portions of your roof or whether total replacement is necessary. In either event, the adjustor will be using certain predetermined pricing guidelines found in estimating software such as Xactimate to determine the cost the insurance company will offer to pay you for your covered loss. Unfortunately, these predetermined pricing guidelines are not factoring in the actual real cost which a roofing contractor would have to charge a consumer to perform the recommended repairs or roof replacement. The costs to the roofing contractor have been rapidly increasing on aluminum, lumber and plywood, as well as steel products as a direct result of the tariffs. Additionally, however not necessarily related to the recent Trump tariffs, asphalt, felts, and coatings have jumped in price as well. These cost increases are initially incurred by roofing contractors and will therefore be passed along to the consumer.

The increase in the cost of construction materials creates a scenario where the insurance companies’ estimating programs provide costs at a far smaller value than what it actually costs a contractor to perform the recommended work. This creates a situation of an underpaid insurance claim and is a primary factor in an insurance policy holder’s decision to seek help from a property damage attorney. All too often, the insurance companies will draw a line in the sand based upon their own estimate, not realizing or not caring about the fact that the real cost to replace damaged property far exceeds their paltry estimates.

President Trump’s Tariffs May Very Well Impact Insurance Claims

The reality of an insurance company underpaying an insurance claim is all too real to Florida homeowners. The Trump tariffs only increase the likelihood of this insurance company practice occurring; homeowners and business owners must remain vigilant in their efforts to get fully compensated for their insurance claim. If you have experienced a denied, underpaid, or delayed property insurance claim, do not delay in contacting St. Petersburg Property Damage Attorney Jonathon W. Douglas at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. for a free consultation. We will ensure that your loss is given the proper valuation in light of all existing site conditions and trends in the construction industry.

ST PETERSBURG PROPERTY DAMAGE ATTORNEY JONATHON W DOUGLAS
5858 Central Ave suite b
St. Petersburg, FL 33707
(727) 381-2300