Month: September 2018

Hurricane Claim

How The Hurricane Category System Can Be Misleading

As a result of recent hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Florence, most people are pretty familiar with the hurricane category system. In about a year’s time, these four storms have wreaked havoc on the communities they hit. In light of these storms, many are concerned the hurricane category system can be misleading and promote a false sense of security.

How Are Hurricanes Measured?

The National Hurricane Center and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) use the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. This scale rates hurricanes from 1 to 5 based on maximum sustained wind speed. Categories 3 and above are considered major hurricanes, although Category 1 and 2 hurricanes can still be extremely dangerous. The wind speeds for each hurricane category are:

  • Category 1 – Maximum Sustained Winds from 74-95 mph
  • Category 2 – Maximum Sustained Winds from 96-110 mph
  • Category 3 – Maximum Sustained Winds from 111-129 mph
  • Category 4 – Maximum Sustained Winds from 130-156 mph
  • Category 5 – Maximum Sustained Winds of 157 mph or higher

What The Category Rating System Doesn’t Measure

While winds can definitely be dangerous and can help predict the damage inflicted by a hurricane, winds alone cannot predict the entire picture of looming hurricane damage. The category rating system doesn’t measure rainfall or storm surge, which can easily prove more dangerous than wind speeds. Both Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Florence unleashed relentless rainfall after coming ashore. This rainfall caused massive flooding that not only caused billions of dollars in damage, but also claimed the lives of dozens of people.

Many are calling for an updated hurricane rating system that would help better communicate a storm’s true danger. While a new rating system could help in the future, it does little for hurricane victims that have already suffered damage. It’s been over a year since both Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria and homeowners and business owners along the Texas coast and across the island of Puerto Rico are still trying to rebuild after unprecedented flooding and storm damage.

Get Help With Your Hurricane Claim Today

Rebuilding after a hurricane takes time, but insurance companies operating in bad faith often slow the process down further. If your insurance company has delayed, underpaid, or denied your insurance claim, contact Raizner Law today.

Puerto Rico’s Recovery

This Hurricane Season Could Cripple Puerto Rico’s Recovery

It’s been over a year since Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico and caused catastrophic damage. Although the island is rarely in the news these days, life has not returned to normal for many Puerto Ricans. The island is still struggling to rebuild its infrastructure and many are worried the island will not be able to withstand even a small storm.

Hurricane Recovery Is A Long Road

Hurricane season is now at its peak, and Hurricane Maria remains on the minds of many Puerto Ricans. The damage to the island’s infrastructure was catastrophic. The island’s power grid was destroyed and damage to roads and highways prevented FEMA workers and needed supplies from reaching the interior of the island. This has continued to cause problems for rebuilding, and some Puerto Ricans waited over nine months to have power restored. Even for those whose power was restored earlier, the power grid was and still is incredibly fragile. Power outages are a frequent occurrence.

Damaged roads and infrastructure aren’t the only obstacles Puerto Ricans are facing. Insurance companies have been slow to pay out on valid claims. Much of the Puerto Rican insurance market has been sold to foreign reinsurers. These reinsurers have been happy to collect premiums from policyholders, but now that it’s their turn to evaluate and pay out on claims they have gone silent. Puerto Rico’s Commissioner of Insurance has already levied several million dollars in fines, but many of the insurance companies remain recalcitrant.

Puerto Rico Remains Extremely Fragile

There are several storms brewing in the Atlantic that could spell disaster for an already struggling Puerto Rico. The island was drenched last week by Tropical Storm Isaac, which caused power outages across the island. Now more than ever, the island needs help to continue to repair and protect themselves from new threats. Unfortunately, many people have forgotten about the struggles the people of Puerto Rico are still facing and others have blatantly denied the storm’s damage.

President Trump Denies Hurricane Maria Death Toll

For the people of Puerto Rico, the greatest loss experienced on the island was the loss of life. Puerto Ricans know the death toll firsthand because they lost loved ones, but President Donald Trump has consistently denied and refused to acknowledge the enormous loss of life caused by the hurricane. In a series of tweets, Mr. Trump claimed the estimated death toll of nearly 3,000 was a conspiracy by the Democratic Party.

The 3,000-person death toll estimate came from a study by independent researchers at George Washington University commissioned by the Puerto Rico government. Researchers found 16,608 documented deaths on the island from September 2017 to February 2018. This number is 2,975 deaths higher than the predicted mortality rates for Puerto Rico, meaning Hurricane Maria caused the additional 2,975 deaths. Other studies have also found the death toll is much higher than original estimates of 6-18 people.

Raizner Law Is Proud To Help Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico doesn’t deserve to be forgotten. The insurance lawyers at Raizner Law are proud to help Puerto Rican business owners with their Hurricane Maria insurance claims. We understand the island is facing desperate times and are working tirelessly to help policyholders get what they rightfully deserve under their policies. Contact us today to see how we can help.

Hurricane Harvey Victims

Some Hurricane Harvey Victims Still Face Obstacles To Rebuild

While it’s been over a year since Hurricane Harvey made landfall off the Texas coast, for many, it seems like it was just yesterday. Texans know firsthand how slow the rebuilding process has been, and it is far from over. Although much progress has been made toward helping affected areas recover, there is still much left to be done. Unfortunately, Houston remains extremely vulnerable to flooding should another storm come its way.

Changes In Harvey’s Aftermath

The City of Houston and Harris County updated building code requirements to include higher structure elevations on floodplains. While this is no help to victims whose homes have already flooded, it will help prevent additional flooding in the future. To address flood mitigation, Harris County had a special election regarding a $2.5 billion flood mitigation plan to get it onto the November ballot. Additionally, earlier this year Congress included mitigation funding in its spending bills; however, it remains unclear how funds will be allocated among hurricane-devastated states such as Texas and Florida.

While this funding is absolutely needed, it can’t come fast enough. The city needs large-scale projects like the creation of a third reservoir and the creation of more surface detention, but the funds have yet to materialize so these crucial projects have not even begun. This is especially concerning as we are in the midst of an active hurricane season.

Struggling To Rebuild

Many Houstonians are still struggling to rebuild. The litigation regarding homes flooded by the a is still ongoing; and, for buildings that suffered wind damage, many insurance companies are causing unnecessary delays and wrongfully denying claims. This has made rebuilding very difficult financially. The financial hardship has been felt especially hard by business owners, who have seen substantial losses in revenue due to damaged buildings and costly repairs.

Raizner Law Is Proud To Help Hurricane Harvey Victims

Business owners who sustained damage due to Hurricane Harvey have a remedy. Raizner Law is working with scores of Hurricane Harvey victims, both in the Addicks and Barker reservoirs litigation and with wind damage claims. We are experienced insurance lawyers that know how evaluate damages and work with experts to get you complete compensation to cover the cost of damages. There is no upfront cost for working with us. We offer free consultations and you won’t owe us anything unless we help you recover compensation. Contact us today.

Hurricane Harvey wind damage insurance lawsuit

Katy, Texas Motel Owner Files Hurricane Harvey Wind Damage Insurance Lawsuit

Raizner Law has filed a Hurricane Harvey insurance lawsuit on behalf of a Katy, Texas Motel owner against Arch Specialty Insurance Company after its insurance claim was wrongfully denied.

The plaintiff owns and operates a two-story motel in Katy, Texas that houses a lobby, 200 guest rooms, and laundry facilities. On August 25, 2017, one of the most devastating storms in United States history, Hurricane Harvey, came ashore as a Category 4 hurricane. Hurricane Harvey had wind speeds up to 150 miles per hour. As a result of these extreme winds, Harvey caused significant damage to the plaintiff’s motel. Sizable portions of the property’s roof were compromised by wind, which caused further damage to the interiors, including the windows, drywall, insulation, and flooring.

Immediately upon discovering the damage, the plaintiff filed an insurance claim with Arch and asked that the cost of repairs be covered pursuant to the policy. Arch utilized a preferred vendor to inspect the property on September 7, 2017. Arch denied the claim on December 10, 2017. According to the preferred the vendor for Arch, the claim was denied on the basis that “the roof system and building envelope did not sustain wind damage, which would have allowed water to enter. Further, the water entry is a direct result of water entering in the building through already present deficiencies in the roof and envelope systems.” To date, Arch has refused to pay for the property damage. As a result of Arch’s unreasonable denial, the plaintiff has suffered extreme economic hardship.

Violations of the Texas Insurance Code

Our client cites numerous violations of the Texas Insurance Code, including failure to effectuate a prompt, fair, and equitable settlement of a claim, failure to pay a claim without conducting a reasonable investigation, and misrepresentation of the policy under which it affords coverage to the plaintiff.

Get Help With Your Hurricane Harvey Wind Damage Insurance Lawsuit

Even a year after Harvey’s landfall, many business owners are still struggling to put their lives back together. If your insurance company has delayed, underpaid, or outright denied your Hurricane Harvey wind damage claim, Raizner Law can help. We are experienced insurance lawyers who are already helping hundreds of policyholders with their Hurricane Harvey wind damage insurance lawsuits. Call us today to schedule a free appointment with one of our lawyers to discuss your Hurricane Harvey wind damage insurance lawsuit.

Hail Damage Insurance Claim

Raizner Law Files Hail Damage Insurance Lawsuit On Behalf of Apartment Complex Owner

Raizner Law has filed a hail damage insurance lawsuit on behalf of a Texas apartment complex owner against Houston Casualty Company, QBE Insurance Corporation, Aspen Specialty Insurance Company, Hiscox Incorporated, Westchester Surplus Lines Insurance Company, Underwriters at Lloyd’s London, Internal Insurance Company of Hanover SE, Alterra Excess & Surplus Insurance Company, Interstate Fire & Casualty Company, RSUI Indemnity Company, and Engle Martin and Associates (collectively “the insurers”).

Two Hail Storms Damage Apartment Complex

On December 27, 2015 and again on May 10, 2016, a hail storm swept through Hurst, Texas and caused significant damage to the plaintiff’s property. The hail storm caused extensive damage to the apartment complex’s roof that was so extensive large sections of shingles were missing from the roof systems. In response to the damage, the plaintiff has made numerous repairs to the roof and tarped large sections of the roof to mitigate damages. Unfortunately, the interior damages continue because of roof leaks due to the insurers’ low ball estimate and failure to pay the claim.

Upon discovering the damage, the plaintiff filed an insurance claim with the insurers. In response to the claim, the insurers assigned the claim to Engle Martin who in turn assigned the claim to internal adjusters. The adjusters were improperly trained and failed to perform a thorough investigation of the claim, spending an inadequate amount of time inspecting the plaintiff’s property. The damages the adjuster included in the report were grossly undervalued and did not allow for adequate funds to cover the cost of repairs for all damages sustained. The adjusters failed to perform any of the industry standard tests for hail and wind damage during their inspections. For example, the adjusters neither conducted test squares nor did the adjusters perform brittleness tests.

As a result of the mishandling of the plaintiff’s claim, the plaintiff has experienced a delay in fully repairing the property, which has caused additional damages. To this date, the plaintiff has yet to receive the full payment it is entitled to under its policy. The majority of the apartment units at the property continue to leak from the wind and hail damaged roofs. The adjusters handling the claim refused to consider any interior damages when conducting their inspection of the property, failing to inspect the interior of the apartment complex.

Violating Texas Insurance Law

The insurers and the third party adjusting firm handling the claim violated numerous sections of the Texas Insurance Code. Our client alleges they failed to perform to a prompt, fair, and equitable settlement of a claim, misrepresented the policy under which they afford property coverage to the plaintiff, and denied a claim without conducting a reasonable investigation.

Get Help With Your Hail Damage Insurance Claim

At Raizner Law, our insurance attorneys believe that if you pay regularly pay your premiums, you deserve full protection under your policy. We know all of the bad faith tactics insurance companies employ to avoid paying out on claims and we can help you obtain complete compensation. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your hail damage insurance claim.

Hail Damage Insurance Lawsuit

Raizner Law Files Bad Faith Hail Damage Insurance Lawsuit On Behalf of Commercial Property Owner

Raizner Law has filed a bad faith insurance lawsuit on behalf of a Laredo, Texas commercial building owner against United Fire & Casualty Company after its hail damage insurance claim was wrongfully denied under Texas law.

May 2017 Hailstorm

The plaintiff owns and operates three commercial properties in Webb County, Texas. On May 21, 2017, a wind and hail storm ripped through Laredo and Webb County, causing significant damage to the plaintiff’s buildings. As a result of the hail and windstorm, the properties were substantially damaged. Sizeable portions of the properties’ roofs were compromised by hail and wind. As a result of the roof damages, the properties also sustained interior damages.

Immediately upon discovering the damages, the plaintiff filed an insurance claim with United Fire and asked that the cost of repairs be covered pursuant to its policies. United Fire’s claims-handling process resulted in a wrongful denial that omitted a wealth of facts, physical evidence, obvious hail and wind damages, and meteorological data supporting the plaintiff’s claims. United Fire unreasonably pinned the loss on anything but the hail and wind, an action designed to save the company hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to the properties and the businesses.

United Fire assigned two claims adjusters to adjust the claim who were unqualified and incapable of adequately assessing the damages to these types of commercial properties. These adjusters were also the source of many delays throughout the claims process. United Fire and its adjusters took months to even inspect the properties or attempt to assess the damages. United Fire continued to delay the claim resolution and did not provide the insured with answers to its repeated requests for information about its pending claims.

United Fire ultimately denied the claims on March 20, 2018, despite the fact that wind and hail damages were obvious and that liability under the policy was reasonably clear. Their conclusions, denials, and refusal to acknowledge or pay the claim were based on an outcome-oriented investigation aimed at denying the plaintiff’s claims from the outset. United Fire, its adjusters, and consultants ignored obvious catastrophic hail and wind damage to the properties and refused to consider that hail and wind were actually the source of obvious damages. The claims adjustment process was unnecessarily complicated, disorganized, and conducted behind closed doors until United Fire ultimately wrongfully refused to compensate its insured for any of the obvious covered damages under the policy.

United Fire & Casualty Company Violated Texas Law

To this day, United Fire has refused to pay for any covered damages under the policy. United Fire violated numerous sections of the Texas Insurance Code, including failure to effectuate the prompt, fair, and equitable settlement of a claim and failure to provide promptly a reasonable explanation for the denial of a claim. Our client also alleges United Fire violated the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA).

Get Help With Your Hail Damage Insurance Lawsuit

If your insurance company has delayed, underpaid, or outright denied your hail damage claim, the experienced insurance lawyers at Raizner Law can help with you with your hail damage insurance lawsuit. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to see how we can help with your hail damage insurance lawsuit.