Blogger:  Lee M. Epstein

Beyond the personal toll extracted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the property and business losses are projected to be among the greatest caused by a natural disaster. As the recovery efforts continue in earnest, the following Checklist is offered to assist those who have suffered a loss and are planning to submit an insurance claim for any property loss and business interruption suffered.

□    Restore service to any property protection systems that have been damaged, such as
     sprinklers and alarms

       □    If property protection cannot be restored, post a watch

□    Notify all insurance companies whose policies may be implicated

       □   Consider whether notice should be given to excess insurance companies or to
           insurance companies whose policies have expired

□    Prepare a preliminary report describing:

      □    The type of loss

      □    The date and time of the loss

      □    The location of the loss

      □    A contact person at the company

      □    The property involved, including: buildings, equipment and stock

□    Determine if:

      □    The property is protected from further damage

      □    Any buildings require temporary enclosures

      □    Any utility lines have been damaged and require repairs

□    Identify and separate damaged and undamaged property

□    Commence salvage operations

□    Determine whether:

      □    Production can be restored at the damaged facilities

      □    Damaged equipment can be repaired

      □    Substitute facilities and equipment are available and necessary

      □    Lost production can be made up through inventory, overtime, or other

□    Formulate a plan with the insurance company’s input for making repairs, 
     securing substitute facilities and equipment and undertaking other loss
     mitigation efforts

□    Set up accounting procedures to track:

      □    Property Damage

            □    Create separate accounts for all loss-related expenses

            □    Implement procedures for collecting and maintaining all loss-related
                 documentation  in accordance with insurance policy terms, including
                 invoices, contracts and manpower hours

            □    Inventory damaged and undamaged goods

      □    Business Interruption

            □    Determine the “period of interruption”

            □    Determine the quantity of lost production as reflected in inventory 
                 records, production records and sales records. Compute what the business
                 would have normally produced, had there been no loss, then see how many                    
                 units were actually produced.  The difference is the gross lost production.
            □    Deduct any sales or production that can be continued or made up through
                 the use of existing inventory, the utilization of other plants, the utilization
                 of overtime hours or other loss mitigation efforts.  The difference is the
                 net lost production.

            □    Multiply the net lost production by the marginal value of a single
                 production unit.

            □    Add back the extra costs associated with replenishing inventory and loss
                 mitigation efforts.

□    Prepare and submit claim

      □    Summarize

            □    Date, location and type of loss

            □    Amount claimed

      □    Break down the amount claimed

            □    Property damage

                  □    Real property

                  □    Equipment

                  □    Stock and supplies

                  □    Demolition and debris removal

      □    Business Interruption

            □    Interruption Period

            □    Sales value of lost production

            □    Expenses incurred to reduce the loss

□    Attach supporting documentation for each element of the property damage and
     business interruption

□    Press for written extensions of time to submit claim and to file suit if necessary

□    Seek prompt payment of claim by insurance company

□    If a dispute over a claim arises, determine

      □    Whether appraisal is appropriate or beneficial

      □    Whether litigation will expedite payment of claim

For more information, please contact Lee Epstein, Chair of the Insurance Counseling and Recovery Department at Flaster Greenberg PC. 

Senate Acts to Delay National Flood Insurance Rate Hikes

Homeowners in coastal and flood-prone areas may receive much needed financial relief after the Senate voted 67-32 last week to pass the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act. Due to large insurance payouts made after recent hurricanes Katrina, Isaac and Sandy, the National Flood Insurance Program, the government-run flood insurance program, has suffered serious fiscal problems and incurred upwards of $24 billion dollars in debt. The step taken by the Senate, if signed into law, would delay certain provisions of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, which resulted in elevated insurance rates for many properties that had been previously “grandfathered” and premium rate increases for recently purchased homes. Many homeowners who are required to purchase flood insurance as a condition of their mortgage fear that the required flood insurance will be unaffordable once insurance premiums increase ten-fold or more.

The Senate’s bill would  delay the insurance premium increases for up to four years and preserve federal subsidies for older homes built before the newer risk maps were developed for the setting of premiums. In addition, the bill would modify sections of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act by requiring the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to conduct an affordability study and report within two years of the date of enactment, removing a $750,000 cap on the affordability study, requiring reimbursement to homeowners for successful map appeals, certifying the accuracy of flood-risk maps, submitting a homeowner affordability framework based on its findings, and designating a Flood Insurance Advocate to advocate for the fair treatment of policyholders and property owners, all of which will take several years. With the Senate’s approval, the bill will now be considered by the House of Representatives.

Questions? Contact Lee Epstein at Weisbrod Matteis & Copley PLLC.