Category: Hurricane Maria

undisputed payment

Insurance Companies Using Undisputed Payment As Leverage In Puerto Rico

There are many laws that dictate what insurance companies can and cannot do when investigating, adjusting, and paying out on claims. Specifically, policyholders everywhere are protected from insurance companies leveraging undisputed payments to convince policyholders to accept lower payments on disputed damages. Unfortunately, the insurance industry is not complying with this legal and ethical requirement in Puerto Rico, and as a result many Hurricane Maria victims were forced into accepting low-ball settlements.

Undisputed Payments

In most states, insurance companies have an obligation to investigate a claim and issue payment for undisputed damages, allowing for quicker payment of accepted damages. However, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, policyholders were not aware of this protection and insurance companies used it to their advantage.

After Hurricane Maria, insurance companies were in no hurry to pay out on claims and they wanted to mitigate the amount they owed. One way they did this was by withholding payment for undisputed damages until policyholders accepted an amount of damages for the disputed portion. It has become unfortunately common for policyholders to accept low-ball settlements for disputed damages just to receive any payment at all. The law in Puerto Rico has since been clarified, but far too late for many policyholders. The insurance companies in Puerto Rico took advantage of the situation, to the detriment of thousands of policyholders. This checkbook power was used to deny thousands of proper and fair payments due to Puerto Ricans.

Hurricane Maria Recovery

It’s been over a year since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, but the island is far from a full recovery. Insurance companies in Puerto Rico have been slowing down recovery with their reluctance to pay out on valid claims. In Puerto Rico, insurance companies are required to respond to claims within a certain period of time, but many have simply ignored the requirement. Puerto Rico’s Commissioner of Insurance has levied millions of dollars in fines against insurance companies for acting so slowly, but even this has not spurred them to action.

Get Help With Recovery

At Raizner Law, we believe policyholders shouldn’t be denied their rightful payments from insurance companies. We are helping Hurricane Maria victims with bad faith insurance claims protect their rights and get the compensation they need to rebuild. If your insurance company has delayed, underpaid, or denied your Hurricane Maria claim, contact us today for a free consultation.

Hurricane Maria Insurance Claims

What Is Xactimate and How Could It Help Hurricane Maria Victims?

It’s been nearly a year and a half since Hurricane Maria, and victims are still struggling with insurance companies over property damage claims. Commonly used insurance software could help policyholders get their rightful compensation, but some insurance companies in Puerto Rico are refusing to use it. It’s called Xactimate, and while you likely have never heard of it, it’s crucial to the insurance claims industry.

What is Xactimate?

Xactimate is software used by insurance adjusters, insurance companies, and contractors, among others, to estimate the cost of building and repairing properties. Many insurance companies use Xactimate or a similar software platform to value insurance claims. Xactimate contains pricing databases for all sorts of materials, labor, products, and consumer goods so an estimate of damages can easily and quickly be put together. Xactimate also adjusts prices for specific to locations to ensure estimates include objective pricing. Xactimate’s calculations are considered an objective industry standard for valuing insurance claims.

Insurers Refuse To Use Xactimate On Hurricane Maria Insurance Claims

Insurance companies in Puerto Rico are frequently refusing to use Xactimate, instead, relying on subjective, non-standard methods to value insurance claims. Insurance companies are doing this in an effort to devalue claims and reduce the amount of money they have to pay out to policyholders. For an island already devastated by a natural disaster, this unfair insurance practice comes as yet another blow.

Puerto Rico has had an incredibly slow recovery in part because the island’s infrastructure was damaged in the storm, but mainly because of the dilatory tactics of many insurance companies. To compound the problem, foreign reinsurers dominate most of the insurance market in Puerto Rico, and they are reluctant to process and pay out on claims. This has led to policyholders waiting for months to hear the outcome of their claims, extreme undervaluation of damages, and outright denials. The only choice for many policyholders is to pursue a legal claim in order to obtain their rightful compensation.

Helping With Hurricane Maria Insurance Claims

Raizner Law is helping policyholders with Hurricane Maria insurance claims. We believe insurance companies have no right to withhold the funds property owners need to rebuild. Contact us today for a free consultation to see how we can help.

Hurricane Victims

The Atlantic Ocean Is Producing More Intense Storms

People that live in and around the Gulf of Mexico are no strangers to the storms that come ashore every hurricane season. Although there are steps people can take to prepare for some of these storms, others will cause devastation regardless of preparation. This was the case for both Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria which devastated the Texas coast and the island of Puerto Rico in 2017. Unfortunately, scientists believe storms like these are going to increase in number in the near future.

Researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently published a study that found the Atlantic Ocean is producing more intense storms than previous years. Researchers looked at the rapid intensification of hurricanes and storms in the Atlantic and found that over the past few years, storms have been intensifying at much quicker rates. The study listed examples such as Hurricane Michael (2018) that intensified from a Category 1 Hurricane to a Category 4 in only 24 hours time.

These quickly intensifying storms are dangerous for several reasons. First of all, they are extremely powerful. While many storms or hurricanes lessen in strength as they approach land, the rapidly intensifying storms occurring in the Atlantic are yielding hurricanes that don’t lose as much strength when approaching landfall. By the time these storms make landfall, they can have higher wind speeds and cause more damage.

Quickly intensifying storms are also dangerous because they don’t give people in the path of the storm enough time to prepare or evacuate. Because predicting the path of a hurricane is extremely difficult, quickly intensifying storms compound the problem and pose a huge threat to anyone in the path of the storm.

Effects of Catastrophic Storms

The U.S. will see more rapidly intensifying storms and hurricanes in the years to come, which will likely be catastrophic for anyone along the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts. It’s been over a year since Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Harvey struck, but much of the areas affected by these storms are still struggling to recover.

Insurance companies refusing to pay out on valid claims have slowed down recovery in Puerto Rico. In Texas, many homeowners and property owners are trying to hold the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers accountable for flooding their homes as a result of the Addicks and Barker reservoirs dam releases in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Helping Hurricane Victims

More intense storms means more property owners are going to face hurricane damage and potentially dishonest insurance companies. Raizner Law is helping hurricane victims rebuild by getting them the full compensation they deserve. Contact us today to see how we can help.

disaster relief funds

Disaster Relief Funds In Jeopardy As President Looks To Fund Border Wall

Now that President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency at the southern border, many natural disaster victims are worried their recovery funds will be used on a border wall. Americans affected by Hurricane Maria are still struggling to rebuild over a year after the storm. Taking away natural disaster aid could bring recovery to a complete halt.

President Trump initially asked for $5.7 billion from Congress to cover the cost of building a wall, but when it was clear Congress would not give him the funds, he declared a national emergency. By declaring a national emergency, President Trump can reallocate certain funds to address the emergency. So far, it’s unclear exactly where the funds will come from and what programs might be cut to cover the cost of the border wall. Victims of the California wildfires and Puerto Ricans are rightfully nervous that Trump will dip into their federal recovery aid. Reports previously stated the President intended to use some of FEMA’s disaster recovery aid to cover the cost of building the wall.

A Slow Recovery

Although Puerto Rico is no stranger to strong storms, Hurricane Maria proved to be an extremely devastating storm. Hurricane Maria caused substantial damage to the island’s power grid, which crippled communications in the aftermath of the storm. Additionally, the storm damaged much of the island’s infrastructure, including roads and bridges, which made it difficult to distribute aid.

Although the island’s electricity has long since been restored and roads have been cleared, much of Puerto Rico is still in limbo waiting for insurance payments to make repairs on buildings. Unfortunately, the insurance market in Puerto Rico is dominated by foreign reinsurers who are not eager to pay out on claims. This has dramatically slowed down recovery.

Get Help With Hurricane Maria Claims

Hurricane Maria victims should not have to endure bad faith tactics used by insurance companies to avoid paying out on valid claims. If your Hurricane Maria claim is being delayed, underpaid, or outright denied, contact the Hurricane Maria lawyers at Raizner Law today for a free consultation to see how we can help.

Hurricane Damage Insurance Lawyers

New Bill Seeks To Investigate How Federal Government Failed Puerto Rico

Over a year has passed since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, but the island is far from achieving a complete recovery. Puerto Rico’s slow recovery has been surprising to many; and, now lawmakers will formally investigate the exact cause of the island’s slow-paced recovery process.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., has reintroduced a bill that would establish a third-party investigation into the actions and response of the federal government after Hurricane Maria. Specifically, lawmakers want to know why the government’s estimated death toll is so far below other estimates, why there was a lack of disaster preparedness, and how the telecommunication system became so inadequate. The investigation would also look into other matters that slowed down Puerto Rico’s emergency response.

Considering the disparity between the government’s estimated death toll and the death toll estimated by independent researchers at George Washington University commissioned by the Puerto Rico government, there appears to be much to sort out. Researchers at George Washington University conservatively estimated that as many as 3,000 Puerto Ricans died in Hurricane Maria and her aftermath, but President Trump has refused to acknowledge this as an accurate death toll and has stated he believed it was a conspiracy created by the Democratic Party.

The investigation would also look into how ten trailers filled with supplies for Puerto Rico were left to rot at a state elections office. The supplies were discovered months after the storm and were deeply needed by victims.

Slow Recovery For Puerto Rico

While the government’s actions or inactions play a huge part in Puerto Rico’s recovery, it is only one part of the puzzle. Insurance companies in Puerto Rico have been slow to process and pay out on property insurance claims, meaning Puerto Rican business owners have been forced to pay for repairs themselves, or worse, close their doors. The Puerto Rico Commissioner of Insurance has already levied millions of dollars in fines against the insurance industry, but that has done little to encourage them to process claims.

Helping Hurricane Maria Victims

The experienced lawyers at Raizner Law understand that Hurricane Maria victims are still struggling. We are representing condominium associations, business owners and real estate investors in delayed and disputed insurance claims in Puerto Rico. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your options and see how we can help.

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.