Tag: Puerto Rico

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.

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.

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.

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.