Category: Hurricane Maria

A man holding an umbrella stands in front of damage caused by Hurricane Maria.

Over 13,000 Hurricane Maria Insurance Claims Remain Open

It’s been over a year since Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, but the island is still far from a full recovery, due in large part to the continued non-cooperation of the insurance industry. Puerto Ricans have been forced to close down their businesses, drain their savings, and/or resign to living and working in buildings with structural damage because they have not received the insurance payments necessary to make repairs.

Despite plenty of time to handle claims, insurance companies in Puerto Rico have been slow to act, leaving at least 13,600 insurance claims still open.

Insurance Companies are Disregarding the Law

Under Puerto Rico law, insurance claims must be completed and processed within 90 days unless there are extenuating circumstances. While companies did receive a large number of claims in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, they made insufficient effort to promptly handle them. Puerto Rico’s Commissioner of Insurance levied fines against numerous insurance companies in March of this year for failing to resolve claims in a timely manner. Despite over $2 million in fines, insurance companies still aren’t picking up the pace when processing claims.

Reinsurance in Puerto Rico Lengthens the Claim Process

Much of the insurance market in Puerto Rico is ceded to foreign reinsurers. While this helps prevent insolvency by spreading out the risk, it also adds an extra step into the already lengthy and complicated insurance claims process. Reinsurers often have to approve payments on claims, but most of them are in no hurry to pay out. When natural disasters strike, insurance companies stand to pay billions of dollars on claim payouts under their insurance contracts

What Can Policyholders Do?

Policyholders who regularly pay their premiums deserve full protection under their policies. Insurance companies have no right to unreasonably delay or withhold payments. Policyholders struggling with their insurance companies can file a lawsuit with the help of an experienced insurance lawyer.

Raizner Law Can Help

Puerto Rico must not 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. Call us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

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.

Insurance Companies

What Happens to Insurance Companies After A Major Disaster

When a major natural disaster occurs, such as a hurricane, much of our focus is on our families and our own safety. However, insurance companies can take big hits following major disasters, which often send their stock prices into immediate decline. With the aftermaths of both Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria in the not-so-distant past, it’s important to examine why and how the insurance industry is impacted by large scale natural disasters and what it can mean for overall recovery after these major events.

According to published data about the property and casualty insurance industry, , 2017 had the highest catastrophic losses in recent years, falling between $50 and $125 billion, with losses from 2011 and 2005 rounding out the top three. Hurricane Harvey resulted in losses ranging from $10 to $25 billion and Hurricane Maria resulted in losses up to $48 billion, although these numbers are still being calculated—but what do these losses actually mean?

In the immediate aftermath of a catastrophic event, stock prices for property and casualty insurers can take an initial hit.  But usually, these stock prices lag for the first two to four weeks as investors assess damages and earnings per share adjusts downward. But that doesn’t last long, as a major catastrophe loss tends to mean higher near term premiums. And that expectation of higher premiums tends to drive stock prices back up. Within just a few months, stock prices are often higher than they were before the hurricane or other catastrophe event. The increase in premiums also benefits property and casualty brokers, who also benefit from the higher premiums.

For insurance companies, the profitability of storms isn’t limited to major events. During hurricane season in particular, property and casualty stocks routinely outperform on average, historically rising an average of 3.5 percent since 1993. This also takes into account the average amount of hurricanes that happen each year, with around 18 storms making landfall annually since 1851. The decade of 2000-2010 was particularly notable as it averaged 18 hurricanes per year, including seven major Category 3+ hurricanes making landfall in the United States. Though it might be easy to think 2017 was a busy storm season with Maria and Harvey, only nine land-falling hurricanes occurred between 2011 and 2017.

Though one may think insurance companies are at an overall loss when disaster strikes, they are still businesses who sometimes thrive off of these bad situations. While stock prices may decline in the immediate aftermath, once the disaster claims payouts become certain, premiums begin to rise and the stock price rebounds and actually becomes much higher, reaping more profits for insurance companies. This boon presents a stark contrast to the businesses and families that are left to rebuild.

Get Help With Your Natural Disaster Claim

Although insurance companies face millions of dollars in claims, the reality is that they try to limit payouts as much as possible by utilizing bad faith tactics. When this happens, you need an experienced natural disaster claim lawyer who can hold the insurance company responsible and get you what you are rightly entitled to under your policy. Contact Raizner Law today for a free consultation to discuss your natural disaster claim.

Hurricane Harvey Insurance Lawsuit Claims

Reinsurer Recalcitrance Slowing Down the Repair of Puerto Rico’s Infrastructure

While preparing for a natural disaster is a wise idea, there are some things that just cannot be anticipated. When Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, few could have imagined the island would still be struggling with a fragile power grid ten months after the storm. One of Puerto Rico’s biggest struggles recovering after Hurricane Maria was the island’s damaged infrastructure. Unfortunately, repairs to the infrastructure are taking longer to make because of the slow response from insurance companies to pay out on claims.

Puerto Rico’s infrastructure wasn’t in good shape before the storm. The roads suffered from many potholes, the power grid was very temperamental, and a significant portion of residential construction was done informally by individuals rather than licensed contractors. But when Hurricane Maria hit, it caused a whole new set of problems. The roads and highways suffered further damage, which made it difficult to travel; and even where the roadways weren’t damaged, they were cluttered with debris and large trees that needed to be removed one by one.

For an entire island without power, running on generators was extremely important, but with the roads in impassable conditions, it was difficult to get fuel to the hospitals and other facilities that needed it for generators. Gas stations that would normally dispense fuel were damaged and left inoperable, leaving much of the island stranded without fuel.

But it wasn’t just fuel struggling to make its way across the island. All supplies, including medical supplies, food, building supplies, and electrical equipment to repair the power grid, are having trouble reaching towns across the island.

Reinsurer Recalcitrance

Reinsurance is insurance for insurance companies, and foreign reinsurers dominate most of the commercial insurance market in Puerto Rico. While reinsurance is a vitally important component of the insurance industry (it keeps insurance companies from becoming insolvent by spreading out the risks), most foreign reinsurers are dragging their feet when processing claims. If policyholders cannot get their rightful payments under their policies, they won’t have funds to begin or complete needed repairs.

Get Help With Hurricane Maria Insurance Claims

At Raizner Law, our experienced insurance lawyers are helping Hurricane Maria victims get their full compensation under their insurance policies. If you need help with Hurricane Maria insurance claims, do not wait to contact us. Our consultations are free, and there is no upfront cost for working with us. We work on a contingency fee basis, so you won’t owe us anything unless we help you recover compensation.

Puerto Rico’s Power Grid

Nearly A Year After Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico’s Power Grid Still Failing

When Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017, few realized how long lasting the devastation would be. It’s been over ten months, and power has still not been completely restored to the island, making it the longest power blackout in U.S. history. Officials are projecting repairs will be completed by the end of August 2018, but experts believe the repairs will not hold up against another Category 4 hurricane.

According to Puerto Rico’s Commissioner of Public Safety, Hector Pesquera, “The grid is there, but the grid isn’t there. It’s teetering.” Mr. Pesquera warned that the grid is so fragile, even if it was hit by only a Category 1 hurricane, the island would probably lose power.

The country has been desperately trying to complete repairs, and has awarded over one billion dollars in contracts to electric companies to rebuild the power grid. Despite this, thousands of Puerto Ricans remain without power, and generators are still powering vital infrastructure buildings including hospitals and police departments. For those Puerto Ricans that do have power, it is often fleeting. All it takes is a blown transformer or a snapped line for the power to go out again.

Puerto Rico’s fragile power grid has many worried about the 2018 Hurricane Season. This season is estimated to be similar to the 2017 season, meaning the island could easily see another storm that undoes the currently incomplete repair work done on the power grid since Hurricane Maria.

Unfortunately, a fragile power grid isn’t the only thing slowing down the island’s recovery. Insurance companies have been extremely slow to process and pay out on valid claims. This means many businesses cannot conduct repairs, often leading to additional lost income and further property damage.

Get Help With You Hurricane Maria Insurance Claim

Raizner Law is now evaluating commercial property claims in Puerto Rico. There is no upfront cost for working with us, and our consultations are free. We can help you understand your legal rights. We’ve achieved significant wins against some of the largest insurers in the world, and we can help you too.