Category: Hurricane Maria

Aetna

Trump Administration May Use Hurricane Harvey Recovery Funds To Build Border Wall

As President Donald Trump considers declaring a state of national emergency in order to build the border wall, certain organizations have been asked to prepare for this scenario. The White House has told the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to examine its budget and determine what funds can be redirected from its emergency fund. This emergency fund is comprised of $13.8 billion dollars that has been set aside to fund over 50 disaster relief projects in California, Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico. Large portions of this fund are designated to aid Texans suffering from damage caused by Hurricane Harvey and Puerto Ricans suffering from damage caused by Hurricane Maria.

Although it has been a year since both Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria made landfall, neither Texas nor Puerto Rico has reached a full recovery. Both storms caused billions of dollars in damage and millions more will be needed to undertake flood-control projects to prevent catastrophic flooding from recurring. Specifically in Houston, flood-control projects aim to widen and deepen Clear Creek, Hunting Bayou, Brays Bayou, and White Oak Bayou.

Victims of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria are struggling enough with rebuilding. The use of their designated emergency funds on anything other than hurricane recovery would be a serious blow. Insurance companies have been both extremely slow to process and pay out on hurricane property damage claims and utilizing bad faith tactics to deny valid claims. The Puerto Rico Commissioner of Insurance has already levied millions of dollars in fines against insurance companies for their inaction, but policyholders are still reporting outstanding claims and wrongful denials.

Although President Trump has stated he does not plan on declaring a state of emergency in the next few days, the option to do so still looms overhead for Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria victims. A major loss in funding could bring an already slow recovery to a screeching halt.

Representing Hurricane Victims

There are many challenges facing hurricane victims. Raizner Law is proudly representing both Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria victims in a variety of lawsuits to get the compensation they deserve and need to rebuild. If you suffered property damage during a hurricane, contact us today for a free consultation to see how we can help.

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

Puerto Rico Suffered The Most Adverse Weather Events Over Past 20 Years

The Caribbean has always been home to extreme weather events. The area is ripe for storms and hurricanes that routinely sweep through during every hurricane season. However, not all Caribbean islands are created equal. Some islands have suffered more than others from extreme weather events. The island of Puerto Rico has suffered the most adverse weather events worldwide over the past 20 years.

At the climate summit in Katowice, Poland, the non-profit Germanwatch released The Global Climate Risk Index 2019. The report looked at the resulting economic damages from natural disasters from 1998 to 2017. These natural disasters included “storms, floods, heat waves, etc.” and the economic impact was calculated using purchasing-power parity or PPP.

It comes as no surprise that after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico was region that suffered the most damage from a natural disaster in 2017. Additionally, the report also determined Puerto Rico was impacted the hardest according to long-term indexes from 1998-2017. Puerto Rico has been slammed by number of storms throughout the past 20 years, but none has been quite like Hurricane Maria.

When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017, it caused billions of dollars in damage. In the immediate aftermath of the storm, the island was left mostly in the dark. The power grid that supplied electricity to the island was severely damaged in the storm, and it took months to complete vital repairs. Roads, bridges, and other infrastructure also suffered damage, which made it difficult for supplies to be distributed.

To make matters worse, the insurance market in Puerto Rico is mostly comprised of domestic insurers that have reinsured most if not all of their risk with foreign, European based reinsurers. These foreign reinsurers have been extremely slow to act when handling and paying out on claims. Although the government has levied fines against insurance companies for their inaction, many claims still remain open. Policyholders have been forced to try and pay for repairs themselves and many have simply closed the doors of their businesses for good.

Recovering From Hurricane Maria

Policyholders that regularly pay their monthly premiums deserve full coverage under their policies. Foreign reinsurers have no right to slow down or deny recovery to Puerto Ricans. If your insurance company is delaying, underpaying, or denying your Hurricane Maria insurance claim, contact Raizner Law for a free consultation. Our experienced insurance lawyers can help you get the compensation you are rightfully entitled to.

Building reduced to a pile of wood as a result of damage caused by Hurricane Harvey.

Puerto Rico Granted Much Needed Additional Aid From FEMA

After a new report found previous estimates of Puerto Rico’s economic losses from Hurricane Maria were inadequate, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) granted more aid to Puerto Rico. The much needed aid will help the island recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria.

Puerto Rico will receive an additional $64 million in hurricane property damage recovery aid. This aid will then be divided among the Department of Education, Emergency Management Bureau, Municipality of Trujillo Alto, and Industrial Development Company. With the exception of aid to the Municipality of Trujillo Alto, the remainder will allow emergency protective measures to be taken. Emergency protective measures are actions taken to eliminate or lessen immediate threats to public health and safety or additional damage to public or private property.

This aid is welcome in Puerto Rico, but it accounts for only a fraction of the aid the island needs. FEMA has provided a total of $4.6 billion to Puerto Rico for recovery under FEMA’s Public Assistance program, but the island still needs billions more dollars to reach a complete recovery.

While federal aid is extremely helpful for recovery, Puerto Ricans are also awaiting insurance payouts for the damage caused by the $100 billion storm. Not only were buildings devastated, but businesses have also suffered loss of income as they wait for necessary repairs. Many business owners are unable to make vital repairs without insurance payouts.

Insurance companies have been reluctant to pay out on valid claims, much to the detriment of Puerto Ricans. Foreign reinsurers dominate the Puerto Rico insurance market, and these companies were happy to collect premiums but reluctant to pay out on valid claims in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Puerto Rico’s Commissioner of Insurance has already fined these foreign reinsurers millions of dollars for their inaction, but this has done little to speed up the processing of claims.

Helping Hurricane Maria Victims in Puerto Rico

Insurance companies have no right to accept premiums and refuse to pay out on claims. If your insurance company is denying or delaying your Hurricane Maria insurance claim, contact Raizner Law today. Our lawyers can help you obtain your rightful compensation so you can work on recovering. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Hurricane Maria Cost

New Study Finds Hurricane Maria Cost Puerto Rico $43 Billion

Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico over a year ago, but the true cost of the storm is still being determined. According to new estimates, original damage calculations for Hurricane Maria are coming up quite short. A new study has found the shortage equals at least $1 billion.

The Puerto Rico Planning Board determined that total damage estimates from Hurricane Maria exceed $100 billion. Yet even after federal aid and insurance payouts, it was previously calculated that there was still a $42 billion deficit from damages to Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria. However, a new report from The Puerto Rico Planning Board determined the $42 billion figure was short – by $1 billion. The Board also stressed the figure takes into account the millions of dollars the island received in federal insurance funds and insurance payouts.

The $43 billion economic impact figure was calculated based partly on questionnaires issued to the public and private sectors. According to Puerto Rico economist Jose Caraballo, federal aid and insurance payments have only covered 24% of the losses reported in the aftermath of the storm. Some of the industries hit the hardest included manufacturing and agriculture. Additionally, there was catastrophic damage to the island’s infrastructure.

Hardship In The Capital

The new report also listed the cities on the island that were hit the hardest. The capital, San Juan, suffered devastating losses, from damage to buildings to destroyed infrastructure. The report estimated the city of San Juan was one of the cities hit the hardest. There were reports of deaths in nursing homes and hospitals while the power grid was down and unable to provide needed electricity. There was also an outbreak of leptospirosis, which is a bacteria that spread through the city in the flood waters. While the city has received federal aid, other cities have been less fortunate. Many business owners are waiting for insurance companies to pay valid claims, but insurance companies have been keeping them waiting.

Anytime a natural disaster strikes, insurance companies work hard to delay or mitigate payouts even if it means acting in bad faith. This has left many Puerto Ricans without the means to rebuild and recover. Although some insurance companies are operating in bad faith, policyholders do have legal rights and they can pursue their rightful compensation with the help of an insurance attorney.

Lawyers For Hurricane Maria Victims

If your insurance company has delayed, underpaid, or outright denied your Hurricane Maria claim, contact Raizner Law today. We are helping Hurricane Maria victims get the compensation they deserve. Call us today for a free consultation to discuss your case.

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.