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28 06, 2021

New Florida Property Damage Bill: What Does it Mean?

By |2021-06-28T08:38:47-04:00June 28th, 2021|Categories: Fire Damage Law, Hurricane Damage Law, Insurance Claims, Tree Damage Law|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed Senate Bill 76 into law which will have a significant impact on homeowner’s insurance claims in Florida.

Created to give relief to a large sector of the state’s insurance industry, the SB 76 bill will cause wide changes to the handling and litigation of homeowner’s insurance claims.

Here’s what the new Florida homeowner’s insurance bill may mean for you if you’re making a property damage claim in Florida:

No More Soliciting From Contractors

From July 1, 2021, contractors will be prohibited from soliciting property owners, including offers for making roof damage claims.

Specifically, contractors will be prohibited from advertising to ‘encourage, instruct or induce’ a consumer to contact contractors or public adjusters in order to make roof damage claims.

That means no more door hangers, flyers, signs, emails, magnets, pamphlets, business cards or people knocking your door with property damage claim offers.

This statute applies to anyone working for a contractor, either as an employee or specifically for soliciting. Contractors can also no longer interpret insurance policies or advise insured people without being a licensed public adjuster.

No More Offers for Roof Inspections

Florida Statute § 489.147 will also prohibit financial incentives for roof claims.

Contractors in Florida often offer rebates, gift cards, coupons and other deals in exchange for roof inspections.

Similarly, the new statute restricts the use of referral fees or rewards for any roof repair or replacement services payable by property insurance proceeds.

Reduced Time Frame to Make Property Damage Claims

SB 76 also expands the existing Florida property damage claim notice statute. Previously, property owners had 3 years to file and reopen property damage claims.

But now, beginning July 1, 2021, if you want to make a property damage claim, or reopen a claim you must do so within two years of the date the damage occurred.

A ‘supplemental claim’ is no longer allowed, unless you make notice of that claim within three years.

Additionally, this will now also cover all property damage claims, not just hurricane claims.

Note: This will not change the existing five-year statute of limitations for filing a breach of contract lawsuit under Florida Statute § 95.11.

What Are Reopened or Supplemental Property Damage Claims?

  • A reopened claim is a property damage claim that was closed, but has been reopened to help cover additional costs or damage that was previously disclosed.
  • A supplemental claim is a property damage claim for additional damages not previously covered, from the same situation as previously adjusted or for costs incurred during repairs.

Other Changes in the New Florida Property Damage Bill

  • Allows for larger annual rate increases for customers of Citizens Property Insurance, the government-backed insurer. Currently, the cap is at 10%, but that could gradually increase to 15% over the next five years.
  • Steps to limit fees of attorneys representing homeowners in lawsuits against insurers. This will be done via a formula that compares how much money is awarded in court judgments and how much was offered by insurers in claim settlements before the lawsuit.

What Impact Could This Have on Florida residents?

While insurers may claim the new Florida property damage bill will keep costs down, many critics are concerned these law changes will raise premiums on homeowners who receive coverage from state-backed providers as a last resort.

When Does The New Florida Property Damage Bill Begin?

Florida SB 76 takes effect July 1, 2021.

Why The New Florida Property Damage Bill?

The insurance industry argues that it has suffered considerable losses in recent years through property damage claims and this is an effort to minimize the number of claims.

Lawmakers also believe the bill is needed as private insurers have raised rates, forcing many homeowners to turn to Citizens for coverage.

At the bill-signing event in Sarasota, Senate sponsor Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton said, “I think we’ve gotten at the cost drivers here, the unscrupulous contractors, the unlicensed contractors. We’ve got significant penalties and responsibilities for them that will get at the costs. And then some of the claims reporting and some other areas that I think will definitely make a difference, and it will drive costs down.”

But Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami argued, “There is no sugar-coating this, it literally is going to raise the rates.”

Did You Know?

How to Make a Property Damage Claim?

If your property damage claim has been turned down by an insurer or if you’re unsure on where to start, then contact a Property Damage attorney as soon as possible.

Insurers are notorious for finding ways to avoid paying out what property owners deserve. From denying claims, to stalling and putting the blame on you, we’ve seen it all.

By hiring a property damage attorney, you can find help to navigate the claims process. They’ll take on the daunting team of lawyers that insurers are armed with and will give you the best chance at receiving compensation to cover your repairs.

Property damage claims often include:

  • Fire Damage
  • Sinkhole Damage
  • Storm and Hurricane Damage
  • Theft Damage
  • Tree Damage
  • Water Damage
  • Wind Damage
  • And More

Act Fast!

Acting fast to make your property damage claim has always been important. But starting July 1, 2021, you have even less time than before.

Be sure to file your property damage claim with your insurance company as soon as possible. SB 76 now shortens the time frame to file your initial claim, so time is of the essence! By contacting a property damage attorney, we can guide you through the claims process.

Property Damage Attorney in St Petersburg, Florida

Free Consultation Today

If you’re suffering from property damage and facing a problematic insurance company, 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 tackle the insurance companies.

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

25 05, 2021

Roof Damage From Storms In Florida

By |2021-05-25T08:53:33-04:00May 25th, 2021|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law, Insurance Claims|Tags: , , , , , , |

Unfortunately, roof damage from storms in Florida is not a rarity. Hurricane season can be a particularly stressful time for homeowners in the state who may face significant damage to their roofs and costly repairs. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), hurricanes have caused billions of dollars worth of damage to homes in the state.

Many homeowners feel safe with a comprehensive home insurance policy. However, when the damage occurs, they often run into challenges when attempting to recover their losses. Some homeowners find themselves haggling with their insurance company for weeks and even months only to be offered a mere fraction of their expenses. In some cases, roof damage claims are denied altogether.

If this has happened to you, do not give up. Contact St. Petersburg property damage attorney Jonathon W. Douglas. We can work to help you recover what you need to repair your roof and recover your financial losses. Schedule a free consultation with our property claims team today: (727) 381-2300.

Causes of Roof Damage

In Florida, strong storms and hurricanes are the obvious culprits when it comes to roof damage. Excessive winds and driving rain can lead to water intrusion as well as damage to shingles and roofs. However, there can also be other secondary causes for damage from a storm, such as:

Trees

Falling branches or entire trees during a storm can severely damage the roof of a house. Damage from falling trees is not always preventable as even healthy and strong trees can collapse in a violent storm. However, there are some things homeowners can do to reduce the chances of trees damaging roofs such as trimming branches back regularly and remove dead or dying trees altogether.

Lack of Maintenance

Roof damage from lack of maintenance and repair has a habit of showing up during inclement weather such as storms. Roofs need to be maintained on a regular basis. Damaged shingles should be replaced in a timely manner and gutters need regular cleaning. While a maintenance issue may not come to light in fine weather, it can rear its ugly head with vengeance in a storm, when cracked shingles or clogged gutters can cause flooding inside the home and structural damage.

Lightning Damage

Florida is often called the lightning capital of the world. Especially during storms, lightning can cause damage to trees, structures, powerlines, and homes. Lightning can cause damage to your roof as well as your electrical system and electrical appliances, potentially proving extremely costly.

Heat Damage

The heat in Florida can be excessive for months on end. Relentless beating down of the sun can severely shorten the lifespan of all roofing materials. Constant UV, sunlight, and heat can cause cracking and distortion. When a storm comes along, an already weakened and damaged roof may simply not be able to withstand the high winds, leading to water entering the property. Homeowners should check their roofs every so often and arrange for repairs when they notice any cracking, warping, or other damage.

If you have an insurance policy that covers any roof damage from storms in Florida you could be in for surprise when your claim is denied. If this has happened to you and you are struggling to get your due from the insurance company, contact St. Petersburg property damage attorney Jonathon W. Douglas to learn all of your legal options.

What to Do If You Have Roof Damage from a Storm

Wanting to fix any damage to your roof immediately is only natural as not doing so can cause further damage. However, before you do any repairs, try to document the damage as extensively as you can. Ways in which you can maximize your chances for recovering a settlement from the insurance company include:

  • Contact your insurance company as soon as possible
  • Taking photographs and videos of all the roof damage outside and inside
  • Recover all receipts and bills for home repairs and roof maintenance
  • Take steps to prevent further damage
  • Determine what it will cost to fix the damage with your own contractor

Your insurance company will most likely send their own adjuster to assess your roof damage. If the insurance company offers you a settlement that differs markedly from your contractor’’s assessment or is far too low to cover your damages, you should consider speaking to a property damage attorney as soon as possible. An experienced roof damage attorney can negotiate with the insurance company and help you recover an adequate settlement for your damages. If the insurance company proves unwilling to compensate you adequately, you may consider filing a lawsuit and taking the case to court with the help of your property damage attorney.

Reasons Why Your Insurance Company Might Deny a Claim

Property damage claims seem reasonably straightforward. In theory, homeowners purchase a policy, then file a claim when their roof is damaged, and subsequently get paid. Unfortunately, it rarely works this way. In many cases, homeowners can struggle, sometimes for years, with recovering their due. An insurance company can deny a claim for a number of reasons and then the homeowner is left to fight for their settlement. Reasons why an insurer might deny a claim for roof damage from a storm in Florida can include:

  • Improper maintenance
  • The roof is too old
  • Wear and tear
  • Pre-existing roof damage

If your insurance company denied your claim for whatever reason, you should consider speaking to a property damage attorney to find out about all of your options and ensure your legal rights remain protected. In some cases, claims are denied in the first instance but you can still receive compensation from an insurance company. We can review your insurance policy, appeal against the denial, and help you get the payment needed to repair your roof.

Contact St. Petersburg Property Damage Attorney Jonathon W. Douglas Today

The sooner you start the process of recovering the insurance settlement you deserve, the sooner you could repair your property adequately.

Fighting the insurance company on your own can be a frustrating and lengthy battle. However, it does not have to be this way. We are experienced in handling Florida’s largest insurance companies and have helped countless clients recover the settlement they needed after suffering roof damage from storms in Florida.

Get the process started and speak to our property damage team today: (727) 381-2300.

11 05, 2021

Florida Flood Prone Areas and Tax Breaks

By |2021-05-11T08:51:36-04:00May 11th, 2021|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law|Tags: , , , |

Flooding and the resulting damage to properties is a topic on many Florida homeowners’ minds. Rising sea levels and frequent hurricanes mean an increasing number of homes are at risk from flood damage. More and more homeowners have to face the ever-increasing odds of their homes suffering damage due to natural disasters.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, around 114,000 additional homes in Florida are at risk of flooding in a severe storm than the current figures from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would suggest. Tampa is cited as the second-most affected city in Florida, behind Cape Coral.

While homeowners suffering damage from storms only have limited tax breaks available currently, proposed legislation dealing with flood-prone areas and tax breaks could provide property owners with opportunities for tax breaks in the future.

Homeowners do not only face uncertainty when it comes to flood-prone areas and tax ramifications but can also have a hard time recovering payment from their insurance company after suffering damage in a natural disaster. If your insurance company is delaying your claim or refusing a payout altogether, contact St. Petersburg property damage attorney Jonathon W. Douglas to learn more about your legal rights. Schedule a free consultation with our property claims team today: (727) 381-2300.

Getting a Tax Break for Flood Damage Can Be Tough

Florida property owners can no longer enjoy some of the tax benefits they were previously entitled to when their property suffered damage from natural disasters such as hurricanes and flooding. A recent provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act means that homeowners now face a limit on the deductions they can claim for any property damage.

Before this new tax law came into effect in 2018, taxpayers could claim property damage that was not covered by their insurance company, provided the damage happened as a result of natural disasters such as storms and flooding. Now, taxpayers suffering property damage due to a natural disaster such as flooding or storms are not able to receive tax deductions unless their specific area and county is declared a federal disaster area after a major storm or flooding event.

Getting a tax break may be challenging. However, it is not impossible. Homeowners can still claim this particular deduction if the natural disaster that caused their property damage is a federally declared disaster such as a major hurricane, and providing the total losses amount to more than ten percent of the homeowner’s gross income.

Net Operating Losses

Homeowners whose property damage due to a flood exceeds their income could in some cases claim a net operating loss, a negative amount of income, on their tax return. Property owners can carry the loss back to a previous year or use it for next year’s tax return, depending on their circumstances.

The benefits for homeowners claiming a deduction on the past year’s return mean they could see a refund of taxes sooner, potentially providing them with urgently needed funds for repair expenses. Property owners who have already filed their tax return for last year still have the possibility to claim the deduction by filing an amended return with Form 1040X.

Tax Filing Extensions

While not a tax break as such, a filing extension can provide some help to homeowners affected by flooding and other damages. If the event that caused the damage to your home is a federally declared disaster, the Internal Revenue Service can postpone the deadline for filing taxes and making payments for those affected by the disaster. In this circumstance, the IRS may also waive penalties for late filing or late payments, provided homeowners file their returns and make any payments before the extended deadline.

If you suffered damage due to flooding or storms, dealing with the tax implications and insurance companies can be challenging. However, if you are struggling to get what you deserve and need to repair your property, help is available. Contact our property claims team for advice and help today regarding all of your legal options.

New Legislation Could Provide a Tax Break to Homeowners

When it comes to flood-prone areas and tax breaks, homeowners could be getting a welcome boost sooner rather than later. Bills potentially providing a tax break to Florida homeowners in flood zones are currently under consideration by the Florida legislature. Under this proposed new legislation, homeowners who elevate their properties to prevent damage from flooding would be exempt from paying tax on the added value of their improved home.

This new legislation could significantly help homeowners in coastal areas throughout Florida, especially in the Tampa Bay area where many properties are located in flood-prone areas.

At this time, homeowners who undertake the work to elevate their properties above the base flood elevation level are required to pay higher taxes on their improved and reassessed property.

The new law is designed to not only help homeowners located in coastal zones but would also have an impact on non-waterfront homes located in special flood hazard areas. If the proposed legislation gains approval of the Florida legislature, it is due to be voted on in the general election in November 2022 and, if approved by voters, could become law in early 2023.

St Petersburg Property Damage Attorney Jonathon W Douglas Can Help

Flooding can cause devastating damage to your property and necessitate urgent, extensive, and costly repairs. Getting your due from an insurance company can be a challenging and lengthy endeavor. If your insurer is giving you the run-around and either delaying, underpaying, or denying your claim, do not hesitate to contact us for help. An experienced and knowledgeable property damage attorney can help you receive the coverage needed to repair your property.

Attorney Jonathon W. Douglas has experience in dealing with some of Florida’s largest insurers and is committed to helping homeowners who are struggling to recover an adequate settlement.

We understand that homeowners who have incurred flood damage may be facing steep repair bills and mounting financial responsibilities. We work on a no-win-no-fee basis so there is no financial risk for you when we take on your case.

Call St. Petersburg property damage attorney Jonathon W. Douglas today to schedule a free consultation with one of our property claims team members: (727) 381-2300.

27 04, 2021

Water Damage Claims Due to Florida Hurricanes

By |2021-04-27T08:09:58-04:00April 27th, 2021|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law, Insurance Claims|Tags: , , |

Living in paradise in Florida can come with certain downsides such as hurricanes, storm surges, and flooding. Natural disasters and high insurance premiums go hand in hand. However, homeowners are generally willing to pay high premiums in order to protect themselves from the devastating consequences of hurricanes, such as structural damage and water intrusion.

Unfortunately, despite having insurance coverage, getting the compensation you have a right to under the law from the insurance company can be an uphill struggle after a storm. Moreover, some policies, while covering wind damage, may deny claims for water damage and flooding.

If your insurance denied or underpaid your water damage claim due to a Florida hurricane, a water damage lawyer can help you recover your due. St. Petersburg Property Damage Attorney Jonathon W. Douglas knows how to handle hurricane claims and could help you prove that water damage to your home occurred due to a wind event such as a major storm or hurricane. Contact us today to find out how we can help you recover the insurance coverage that you paid for: (727) 381-2300.

Your Next Best Steps After a Hurricane

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2020 saw a record-breaking $22 billion dollars’ worth of weather and climate disasters. One thing is for sure: hurricanes are here to stay. Knowing what steps to take immediately after experiencing a hurricane can protect your legal rights and make it easier to recover your due from your insurance company. Most importantly, acting quickly can help your property suffer from any additional post-hurricane damage and deterioration. Your best steps after suffering property damage can include:

Contact the Insurance Company as Soon as Possible

Ask your insurance company to send out an adjuster as soon as possible to inspect your property, damages, and begin the process of filing a claim. The sooner you contact your insurer and start a claim, the sooner you can potentially receive funds to repair your property and move on with your life after a devastating hurricane.

Protect Your Property from Additional Damage

You should take immediate steps after a storm to ensure that your property does not deteriorate any further. Actions can include:

  • Boarding up any open windows and doors
  • Securing tarps over any roof openings
  • Mitigating water intrusion and reducing moisture by using dehumidifiers
  • Keeping the air-conditioning running to avoid mold growth

Document all Damage to your Home

One of the most important steps you can take after a storm is to document all damage to your home with photographs, videos, and comprehensive notes. If your entire home has suffered some degree of damage, make sure you provide a room-by-room inventory. Do not forget the outside of your home and, if applicable, document damage to your screens, pool, and patio areas.

Collect Evidence of Repair Expenses

The insurance company will want you to provide evidence of any repairs you have made, including receipts for replacements of cabinets, furniture, windows, and the costs of repainting your home, to name just a few examples.

Consider Consulting with a Water Damage Lawyer

It is never too early to protect your legal rights and get advice from an experienced water damage lawyer after suffering damage in a hurricane. An attorney can advise you on how to handle your insurance claim and help you recover adequate compensation for your damages. Contact St. Petersburg Property Damage Attorney Jonathon W. Douglas today for advice on your unique situation.

Why Has the Insurance Company Denied My Water Damage Claim?

While no two insurance policies are the same, homeowners can be entitled to various benefits under their homeowner’s policy, including but not limited to:

  • Costs of repairs to the home
  • Costs for replacing damaged furniture and fittings
  • Costs to replace damaged or lost personal property
  • Costs for temporary accommodation while the home is uninhabitable

Although it can feel unfair and frustrating to those who suffered significant damage to their homes, it is not at all uncommon for an insurance company to drag its heels and refuse or minimize a water damage claim after a hurricane.

Reasons that insurances state for refusing or underpaying your claim can include:

  • Your policy excludes damage from flooding or has other exclusions
  • Your coverage limit is too low to cover all your damages
  • You failed to provide comprehensive evidence of your damages
  • The insurance company claims you were negligent in protecting your home
  • The insurance company claims there was pre-existing damage to your home

Depending on your individual damage and the fine print of your insurance policy, there can be other reasons for your insurance company refusing an adequate payout. However, it is important not to panic as an initial refusal to compensate homeowners adequately can be common when it comes to water damage claims in a Florida hurricane.

Individuals faced with a denied claim should not give up trying to recover the compensation they are owed under the law. As a homeowner in Florida, you generally have recourse when an insurer underpays or denies your claim. A water damage lawyer can help you get clear on your options and rights for recovering what you deserve.

How a Water Damage Lawyer Can Help You

According to Insurance.com, the average cost of windstorm insurance in Florida can be around $2,600 a year. If you purchased an adequate insurance policy for storm and hurricane damage, you should not be left out of pocket when you have a valid claim. A seasoned water damage lawyer is familiar with the tactics that insurance companies use to minimize or deny claims. Ways in which a determined attorney can help you include but are not limited to:

  • Verifying details of your insurance policy documents comprehensively
  • Communicate with the insurance company adjuster
  • Tracking your claim
  • Ensuring the insurance company is not short-changing you with a law payout
  • Filing a lawsuit against the insurance company if needed

Contact an Experienced Water Damage Claim Attorney Today

If your home suffered water damage due to a storm or hurricane, you do not have to struggle during this difficult time on your own. Our legal team can help you stand up to the insurance company and leave no stone unturned in pursuing the settlement that you deserve. While we handle your claim, you can concentrate on fixing your home and getting some normality back after a devastating hurricane.

St. Petersburg Property Damage Attorney Jonathon W. Douglas can advise you of your legal rights and help ensure they remain protected. Call us today to schedule a free consultation: (727) 381-2300.

16 04, 2021

High Wind Damage Property Claims In Florida

By |2021-04-16T15:45:38-04:00April 16th, 2021|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law, Insurance Claims|Tags: , , , |

According to the Florida Climate Center, the threat of hurricanes and high wind events is ever-present in Florida, particularly during the hurricane season from June 1 until November 30. High winds can cause devastating property damage such as blown-off roofs, damage from falling trees, water intrusion, broken windows and screens, and other losses.

While homeowner’s insurance generally covers wind damage from hurricanes and storms, policies can have exclusions that could leave a homeowner high and dry. If you have problems with recovering your due from an insurance company, you should consider contacting a high wind damage attorney for help and advice as soon as possible. Call St. Petersburg Property Damage Attorney Jonathon W. Douglas now to schedule a free consultation: (727) 381-2300.

Potential Exclusions with Wind Damage Coverage

Potential exclusions in your policy typically include anything the insurance company adjuster considers to be caused by factors other than high winds. However, in many cases, these exclusions are not cut and dry and can be rather subjective. For example, flooding is generally not covered with wind damage insurance. However, a homeowner could argue that water damage to the property happened due to high winds damaging a roof or windows.

Since it is not always apparent what exactly caused property damage such as water intrusion, insurers can be quick to deny a claim. Insurance companies generally exclude the following from coverage:

  • Losses that occurred as a result of pre-existing wear and tear issues or improper maintenance
  • Property damage due to flooding

However, an insurer could also deny or minimize a claim for other reasons, including but not limited to:

  • Lack of evidence for damages
  • Lack of adequate coverage
  • Damages do not exceed the deductible

High wind damage property claims in Florida can be complicated and challenging for homeowners. Policies rarely contain plain language and are often written in jargon that many property owners find challenging to understand. Moreover, it is not uncommon for insurance companies to intentionally delay paying claims, even when a claim is entirely legitimate, hoping that the claimant will give up demanding their due.

However, legal help is available. If your insurer offers you a settlement that seems far too low to cover all your windstorm losses, you should get clear on your legal rights as soon as possible and certainly before signing any legally binding agreements with your insurance company. An experienced wind damage attorney can look over the settlement offer and your insurance policy to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve under the law. St. Petersburg Property Damage Attorney Jonathon W. Douglas can assist with your claim, and help ensure your legal rights remain protected.

Will My Insurance Policy Cover High Wind Damage?

High wind damage coverage is generally included in homeowner’s insurance policies. In some cases, notably concerning properties in coastal areas, wind storm damage may not be automatically included and instead could be offered as an add-on to a homeowner’s insurance policy. However, even if wind damage is covered with your policy, you may encounter certain exclusions such as personal belongings or damage to outside areas of your property.

If you have suffered damage to your home and are not sure what your policy includes, a high wind damage attorney can review your homeowner’s insurance policy and advise you of your next best steps for recovering your losses.

What Should I Do After My Property Was Damaged in High Winds?

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there were 13 severe storms in the United States in 2020, and the next few years will undoubtedly see many more high wind events. Homeowners need to be aware of the steps to take when their property suffers damage in high winds. Generally, property owners are responsible for mitigating any further damages after a windstorm by taking the appropriate actions to protect their property and belongings, which can include actions such as:

Assess Your Property Immediately

Check your entire property inside and out for damage after a high wind event. At a minimum, check all rooms as well as the roof, windows, and external structures of your property. If you notice any immediate problems, consider temporary repairs that can prevent further damage. However, make sure to take photographs of all damages before fixing anything, especially if an insurance adjuster is unable to get to your home before you make any repairs. Make sure you save all documentation and receipts of expenses from any repairs.

Contact the Insurance Company and Check Your Policy

After suffering damage to your property, carefully examine your insurance policy to determine what is covered. You should also contact the insurance company promptly to start the process of initiating a claim. The insurer might send an adjuster right away to assess and document your losses. You should also ask the insurance about your next best steps for filing a claim to ensure that you are not missing any important steps specific to your insurance company.

Consult with a High Wind Damage Attorney

Having problems recovering your due from an insurance company? Then consider visiting with a wind damage attorney to protect your rights and determine whether you have legal recourse. Speaking to an experienced property damage lawyer can be particularly helpful when the insurance company:

  • Denies your claim right away
  • Disagrees about exclusions
  • Offers an inadequate settlement
  • Delays resolution of your claim
  • Disputes your damages occurred due to high winds

Getting your due from an insurance company can be a frustrating, challenging, and lengthy process. While some insurance companies are cooperative, other insurers drag out valid claims in the hope that claimants run out of steam and give up. The key to recovering what you deserve can be patience, tenacity, and the possibly the help of an experienced lawyer who can handle the insurance company and fight aggressively for what you deserve.

Call an Experienced St. Petersburg Property Damage Attorney Today

Unfortunately, insurance companies do not always act ethically when it comes to settling claims. All too often, homeowners face not only dealing with a house in disrepair and mounting bills but are also engaged in a frustrating exchange with an insurance company determined to deny or minimize a claim. However, our legal team can be here for you during this stressful time and help you understand all of your options for recovering what you deserve after high wind damage.

Our experienced attorneys have a track record of helping homeowners recover compensation related to wind damage claims and can see your case through from beginning to end. Call St. Petersburg Property Damage Attorney Jonathon W. Douglas today to find out how we could help you: (727) 381-2300.

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