Tag: Hurricane Damage

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.

Hurricane Harvey Insurance Lawsuit Attorneys 

New Program Aims To Help Struggling Hurricane Harvey Victims

While most people are getting ready for the holiday season, many Hurricane Harvey victims remain working on their recovery. While many Hurricane Harvey victims may feel forgotten, a new program from the Texas General Land Office designed to help victims reach a full recovery has allocated $1 billion in federal grants to help Texans rebuild.

The new program is accepting applications from 48 different counties to help rebuild and repair owner-occupied single family homes damaged during Harvey. The counties have been divided into six regions, and each region will receive a portion of the $1 billion based on need. The East/Gulf Coast region will receive the largest portion of the funding because it was hit particularly hard by the storm. Counties in this region include Brazoria, Chambers, Galveston, Liberty, Montgomery, and Walker counties. The West/Lower Colorado Region and the Southeast Texas Region are also receiving large portions of the funds because they were in the path of the storm.

Eligibility criteria for assistance includes owning a home in one of the 48 designated counties that suffered damage from Hurricane Harvey and utilizing the property as a primary residence, among other requirements. The Texas General Land Office will determine eligibility for financial assistance within two weeks of receiving an application, but determining the amount of assistance will require additional time.

Victims Left Behind

While there are numerous aid programs in place to help hurricane victims recover, the reality is the state of Texas has received less total aid than the amount of damage caused by Hurricane Harvey. This means many victims will get left behind; however, victims aren’t helpless. Raizner Law is representing victims of the Addicks and Barker reservoir flooding and representing property owners whose Hurricane Harvey insurance claims were underpaid or wrongly denied.

Learn Your Options

Raizner Law offers free consultations to Hurricane Harvey victims to explain their legal options. We only work on a contingency fee basis, meaning there is no upfront cost for working with us, and you will not owe us anything unless we help you obtain compensation. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced attorneys.

Hurricane Harvey Damage Insurance Lawsuit

Houston Commercial Property Owner Files Hurricane Harvey Damage Insurance Lawsuit

Raizner Law has filed a Hurricane Harvey insurance lawsuit on behalf of a commercial property owner in Houston, Texas against Twin City Fire Insurance Company after its insurance company was wrongfully denied.

The property is a one-story commercial building with 12,214 square feet of interior space. Unfortunately, on August 26, 2017, Hurricane Harvey swept through Houston, Texas and caused significant damage to the property. Sizable portions of the building’s roof and exterior were compromised, causing damage to the interior of the property, including the ceilings and insulation. Immediately after the storm, the plaintiff alerted Twin City of the damage and asked that the cost of repairs be covered pursuant to its policy.

Twin City’s claims-handling process resulted in a wrongful denial that omitted a wealth of facts, physical evidence, obvious wind damage, and meteorological data from Hurricane Harvey supporting the plaintiff’s claim. Twin City unreasonably pinned the loss on anything but the wind, an action designed to save the insurer hundreds of thousands of dollars in claims payouts for Hurricane Harvey property damage and business interruption.

Specifically, just days after Harvey ravaged the property and the claim was submitted, on September 6, 2017, Twin City had already written off the plaintiff’s claim and issued a preliminary denial letter that offered no reasonable explanation of the facts underlying the denial and that failed to tie any relevant facts to the three pages of policy provisions cited by Twin City. Remarkably, after citing various exclusions and ignoring the relevant coverage, the letter claims no lost business income will be issued under the policy because the shutdown of the plaintiff’s business “was not due to direct physical damage by a covered cause of loss.”

Weeks after the plaintiff submitted the claim, on September 24, 2017, a “damage specialist”, inspected the property to determine the “cause of loss” that resulted from Harvey’s hurricane-force wind and water. Days later, on October 4, 2017, another denial letter was issued which was seemingly identical to the prior denial issued just days after the storm. Again, however, Twin City refused to acknowledge the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey in the midst of the catastrophe. Twin City did not prepare any scopes or estimates of damages and/or refused to provide them to the insured.

The plaintiff was forced to hire its own consultants to assess the damage properly and provide their own estimates of damages to Twin City in the face of the company’s refusal to do so. After Twin City ignored its obligations, forcing the plaintiff to demand the company reassess the damages, another inspection took place on June 19, 2018 by a preferred vendor. This inspection also ignored obvious and extensive damages Harvey caused to the property and was conducted with the intent to simply rubber stamp the prior denial of the plaintiff’s claim for a second time. The inspectors were not qualified to assess the type of damages to a commercial property like the one at issue and, as a result, the inspections were haphazard, rushed, and incomplete. Twin City ultimately denied the plaintiff’s claim.

Twin City Violated 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 adopt and implement reasonable standards for prompt investigation of the claim, and refusal to pay the claim without conducting a reasonable investigation.

Filling Your Hurricane Harvey Damage Insurance Lawsuit

Insurance companies have been reluctant to pay out on valid claims in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. If your Hurricane Harvey claim is being denied or undervalued, contact Raizner Law today to see how we can help you obtain your rightful compensation under your policy.