Tag: Puerto Rico

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.

Tropical Storm Beryl

Tropical Storm Beryl Tested Storm Ravaged Puerto Rico

It’s been over ten months since Hurricane Maria, but the entire island of Puerto Rico is still struggling with recovery. Unfortunately, nothing can stop the 2018 hurricane season and Puerto Rico has already been tested by one tropical storm early on in the season.

Meteorologists closely watched Tropical Storm Beryl because of its path toward Puerto Rico. On Saturday, July 7, 2018, the National Hurricane Center issued its first warning about the storm. While tropical storms are not always cause for concern, Puerto Rico remains extremely vulnerable after Hurricane Maria in September 2017. Hurricane Maria caused significant damage to the island’s infrastructure, and as a result thousands of Puerto Ricans remain without power now, even almost a year later. To make matters worse, many Puerto Ricans don’t currently have homes that can stand up to hurricanes and other storms. Many roofs are still covered by plastic tarps and some buildings still have unrepaired major structural damage, including missing walls, as the insurance industry has been slow to make necessary claims payments.

Slow Recovery

Despite ten months of effort, Puerto Rico still has a long road to recovery. Damage to the island’s roads and highways, in addition to its power grid, is still creating huge barriers to recovery. The biggest obstacle to Puerto Rico’s full recovery from Hurricane Maria has been the slow response from insurance companies to pay out on legitimate claims. Without receiving insurance claims payouts, property owners don’t have the money to begin repairs. The slow action from insurance companies has actually violated Puerto Rican insurance law, and in response the Commissioner of Insurance, Javier Rivera, issued a whopping 2,587 violation orders to six different insurers. These violation orders also came with over $2 million in fines. Unfortunately, the fines have not helped speed up recovery.

Heading Into Hurricane Season

Because Puerto Rico remains extremely vulnerable, the 2018 Hurricane season could cause further devastation. Puerto Ricans have the legal right to have their insurance claims handled in a timely manner, but insurance companies are simply refusing. The only way to force an insurance company’s hand is to file a bad faith insurance lawsuit. With the help of an experienced insurance attorney, policyholders can get what they are rightfully entitled to under their policies.

Raizner Law Now Helping Hurricane Maria Victims

Raizner Law is now helping commercial property owners in Puerto Rico with their Hurricane Maria insurance claims. There is no upfront cost for working with us, and our consultations are free. Contact us today to see how we can help.

Hurricane Maria

Puerto Rico’s Commissioner of Insurance Fines Insurance Companies For Unnecessary Delays After Hurricane Maria

For the island of Puerto Rico, recovering after Hurricane Maria has been incredibly difficult. In the six months since the hurricane ravaged the island, millions of Puerto Ricans have struggled to rebuild among an island-wide power outage, scarcity of clean drinking water, and slow response from insurance companies. However, Puerto Rico’s Commissioner of Insurance has made it clear that insurance companies will not be able to shirk their duties.

Last month, Commissioner of Insurance Javier Rivera issued a whopping 2,587 violation orders to six different insurers. Under Puerto Rican law, insurers are expected to handle claims promptly and in good faith. If a policyholder in Puerto Rico does not agree with an insurance company’s determination of their claim, they can request an investigation by the Commissioner of Insurance. These investigations have already illustrated a widespread issue of unfair dealings on behalf of the insurance companies.

To address this dishonest behavior, the violation orders also assessed fines to the insurers. The Commissioner of Insurance has issued over $2 million in fines to insurers for unnecessarily delaying processing Hurricane Maria claims.

Insurers Acting In Bad Faith

Insurance companies are first and foremost businesses. So when natural disasters occur, insurance companies face millions of dollars in claims payouts. Most companies are not in a rush to pay out, and in fact many will use bad faith tactics to limit or completely deny payouts. Insurance companies try to limit payouts to save on their bottom lines, but this is not just morally wrong – it is also illegal. Policyholders that pay their premiums regularly deserve full coverage under their policies delivered in a reasonable timeframe.

Know Your Rights After Hurricane Maria

Even under the best circumstances, rebuilding after a natural disaster is challenging. After Hurricane Maria, property owners faced substantial hurdles from the lack of electricity and damage to the island’s highways. Many property owners are still facing significant issues, but dishonest insurance companies shouldn’t be one. Puerto Rico’s Insurance Code provides numerous protections for policyholders, but insurance companies often count on policyholders being unaware of their rights. In Puerto Rico, insurers are expected to resolve claims in a 90-day claims window unless there are extenuating circumstances. Failing to meet his deadline can result in fines like the ones issued by the Commissioner of Insurance.

Hurricane Maria

Puerto Rico Still Struggling After Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Maria was one of the worst Atlantic Hurricanes to ever rip through the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. When Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico, the storm was a high-end Category 4 Hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 175 miles per hour. The damage from the storm was absolutely catastrophic and Puerto Ricans are still struggling to rebuild in Maria’s aftermath.

Hurricane Maria Makes Landfall

Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017. In addition to hurricane force winds, Maria brought heavy rainfall, as much as 37.9 inches in some areas, which caused widespread flooding. This flooding was compounded by La Plata Lake Dam floodgate releases. Although the releases were necessary to prevent the complete failure of the dam, the floods caused by the releases trapped thousands of Puerto Ricans. Residents affected by the flood releases reported waters rose at least six feet in only thirty minutes, with floodwaters reaching a depth of 15 feet in some areas.

Puerto Rico’s Damaged Electrical Grid

When Hurricane Maria swept through Puerto Rico, the electrical grid for the island was already previously damaged. Maria further damaged the electrical grid, leaving all 3.4 million Puerto Ricans without power. In addition to the complete destruction of the electrical grid, 85% of all aboveground phones and Internet cables were knocked out, making communication impossible for the vast majority of the island.

One month after Hurricane Maria’s landfall, 88% of the island was still without power. This represented approximately three million people. Three months after the hurricane, over 1.5 million Puerto Ricans were still without power. Now, over six months later, many Puerto Ricans – especially those residing outside of San Juan – remain without power.

Problematic Recovery

Puerto Rico’s recovery had a slow start not only because of the complete damage of the electric grid, but also because even one month after the hurricane most of the island’s highways and bridges were still heavily damaged. One month after Hurricane Maria, only 392 miles of the island’s 5,073 miles of road were open.

Economic Impact of Hurricane Maria

Like all natural disasters, Hurricane Maria caused significant damage. While the exact total amount of damage is not yet known, Puerto Rican authorities have requested $94 billion in aid. The storm not only affected residents and visitors, but it left businesses also struggling. Approximately 80% of Puerto Rico’s agriculture was lost in the hurricane, which totals about $780 million.

Puerto Rico is also responsible for manufacturing many medical devices and medications, representing about 30% of the island’s overall economy. Not only were these factories forced to shut down without electricity, but many of them also suffered damage, preventing them from reopening.

Insurance Has Been Slow To Act

Although many homes and businesses were protected by insurance policies, insurance companies have been slow to act. When natural disasters occur, billions of dollars of claims can be sought from insurance providers. Insurance companies try their best to avoid paying out claims by causing unnecessary delays and using bad faith tactics. The insurance landscape is particularly complex in Puerto Rico, where a handful of domestic insurers dominate the market, but most of the insurance risk is ceded to large reinsurers in Europe.

A Dire Situation for the Puerto Rican Business Community and Economy

Hurricane Maria claims on behalf of the Puerto Rico business community will be exceedingly complex. The Insurance Commissioner has already levied extensive fines against the domestic insurance industry for failing to handle claims in a timely manner. The well-capitalized reinsurance industry in European capitals such as London and Berlin maintain much of the financial risk on Puerto Rico insurance claims, but they have been slow to release money needed to rebuild. Until they do so, the economy will remain strangled and the Puerto Rico business community will remain at risk of financial collapse.