Windstorm Insurance Claims, Coverage, Experts & Litigation

Gina Lozier – Berger Singerman

  • About Gina Lozier
  • 2017 Hurricane Season Damages & Costs
  • Insurance Company Claim Mitigation Tactics
  • Why policy owners should have an expert on their side
  • When claims go to trial, etc.

About The Everything Building Envelope Podcast: Everything Building Envelope℠ is a dedicated podcast and video forum for understanding the building envelope. Our podcast series discusses current trends and issues that contractors, developers and building owners have to deal with related to pre and post construction. Our series touches on various topics related to water infiltration, litigation and construction methods related to the building envelope.

http://www.everythingbuildingenvelope.com

*** Subscribe to the show and leave us a Review on ITunes!

Derek: I’d like to welcome our listeners to the ”Everything Building Envelope” podcast today. My name is Derek Segal and I’m a building envelope consultant with GCI Consultants, a podcast to bring you great information about our industry today and I’m sure you’ll get a lot out of this. Today’s guest that we’re fortunate to have is Gina Clausen Lozier of the law from Berger Singerman. Welcome, Gina.

Gina: Hi, Derek, I thank you for having me here today.

Derek: Gina, great. Can you tell us a little bit about and the listeners about yourself and how your journey came to put you where you are today with Berger Singerman?

Gina: Oh, absolutely. I am an attorney who represents policyholders against insurance companies. I have been with Berger Singerman for almost five years now. I’m a partner there with the firm. Prior to being with Berger Singerman, I was a partner at a large statewide insurance defense firm, so I learned a lot about the industry from representing the insurance companies and all of the different coverage obligations and compliance issues, you know, the policyholders face every day. So now I’m able to use that information and my experience on this side to represent the policyholders against the insurance company. So I’ve been practicing for almost 12 years, very involved in the industry with the Wind Storm Insurance Network and FAPIA and different other organizations. So use all that experience as well and in my everyday work. And I’m excited to be here and talk about how the industry has changed over the past 12 years since I’ve been practicing.

Derek: Great. That’s all fantastic information, especially the fact that you’ve kind of, you see the picture and the challenges from both sides. And, you know, with that said, it leads into a very good question and I did a little bit of research before our podcast today. I don’t know if you knew this or if our listeners knew any of this, but 2017 was the costliest hurricane season ever accounting for an estimated $320 billion in damages, a total of 17 main storms and the 7 most active ever since record-keeping began in 1851. I mean, that’s dramatic. Conversely, 2018, we had not necessarily the most storms, but we had four category four between 2017 and 2018, excuse me, four category four storms to hit the continental U.S. as well as Puerto Rico. And you know, that’s, I think why, you know, this podcast today, it’s so important is because, you know, property owners out there are facing some of the biggest challenges ever. And insurance companies strictly are not making life easier and it’s important to know what you’re doing and have an experienced team in place to help you through the process. So, you know, with that said, you know, what can listeners expect when they report a claim? What do they have to be ready for? What should they have document wise? What are some of the challenges they’re gonna face out there?

Gina: Yeah, you know, Derek, those points that you made are really interesting, especially because I don’t think we even can realize the impact of the 2018 season yet given that Michael was in the not so recent past. So I can expect those numbers to significantly increase. And, you know, one of the other things that you had mentioned is, you know, people, the policyholders, insureds are making comments about how difficult it is to get the insurance companies to pay. And I hear that every day, unfortunately. I hear it from the residential clients that I have who are just trying to restore their home, so they can move on with our lives. And I hear it from the commercial developers who are dealing with multiple properties well into the eight million, you know, I’m sorry, the eight-figure claims that they’re also not getting paid.

So there’s really, you know, the carriers are doing this across the board. It’s not specific to any type of claim, you know, residential versus commercial or high end. It’s kind of a general consensus that things have gotten more difficult to get the carriers to pay for various reasons, which I think, of course, we’ll talk about today. But to focus back around to your point about what you can expect when you report a claim, one of the first things that we’re seeing now that may not have generally been a consensus of the past is that the insurance companies are hiring experts right out the gate. And there’s a lot of reasons for that that have evolved over the years since the 2004-2005 hurricane season. A lot of which has to do with the different policy language that has been approved by OIR.

But one of the first things we’re seeing is that the insurance companies are asking to send out an engineer. They’re sending out building consultants who may not necessarily be licensed, independent adjusters. They may not necessarily be licensed contractors. They are consultants who are sent out there to assist the insurance company in scoping and pricing the loss, you know, in conjunction with an independent adjuster or seeing a team converge on these properties and these inspections taking days and potentially then weeks, which unfortunately is kind of working almost sometimes to delay the claim as well.

Derek: Right. Yeah. I mean, yet you’ve got a homeowner or a property owner that’s stressed out, they’ve just gone through a life-changing event and they’re being confronted with this team defending on them. I mean, what I’m seeing out there as well is that some of these experts are coming from out of state California, Texas. Florida is a pretty interesting area because the code is very specific here and there are types of construction that are not the same as they are in a non-dream wind prone zone like Florida.

I mean, some of these people don’t really know what they’re looking at and they don’t know how to accurately evaluate this. Does this make it even more vital for homeowners and property owners to have someone like yourself and someone on their side to handle this process and make sure that the property’s full damage is accurately evaluated not only for the claim but for a property owner to make sure that they know exactly what happened to their property.

Gina: No, absolutely. It used to be, as I mentioned in the past, the insurance company would investigate a loss and issue a coverage decision and pay undisputed or then you would just fight over the difference in the amount or the coverage. It’s not happening like that anymore. So absolutely it’s vital, especially in certain circumstances to have a team of experts to counteract what the insurance company’s team of experts is doing. It’s funny you mentioned that having all these experts and consultants come from out of state. I was on an inspection last year following Irma and the building roofing consultants were from Iowa. And it was in December and it’s not too hot in Florida in December. But they were only able to stay on the roof for two hours because they said it was too hot outside.

So it’s little things like that that absolutely do make a difference because when the insured is opening up their property for an all-day inspection and you have the insurance company’s consultants not able to move forward with that inspection, it just delays things and it’s an inconvenience to the insurer and the property owners. But you know, with respect to having that team of experts, it’s absolutely important. And there’s a few reasons why, which I’m happy to go into detail why experts and consultants should be retained, and in most cases, should be retained early on in the claim.

Derek: Is this something, yeah. Gina, is this something that’s paid for? Like, you know, again, cost is an issue. These people have just incurred a loss. They’ve got to spend money to fix their property. How are they gonna be able to afford cost? Is the insurance company gonna stroke them a check out of the gate to pay for someone to fight them? I don’t think so.

Gina: No, I haven’t seen that. I would love that. I haven’t seen it yet, but you know, crazier things are possible. Typically, under a standard homeowners or residential policy, there aren’t many provisions that allow an insurer to recover those costs under the policy. If you get into litigation and you ultimately go to trial or you potentially have an extra-contractual claim, otherwise known as a bad faith claim, there are avenues to recover the costs of your experts and engineers and professionals. It’s a little different in a lot of the commercial policies, especially the ones that are issued by the London syndicate. A lot of times there are provisions in the commercial policies that allow for professional fees. And the professional fees are typically tied to costs that are necessary to investigate the cause of the loss or to quantify the scope of the amount and the damage, which it’s a great thing to have in policies especially when you’re dealing with, you know, a claim that’s well into the millions, these fees add up pretty quickly.

Now the caveat to that is a lot of those provisions will only kick in if you get expressed written authority from the insurance company to incur those fees. So it’s important to understand what that provision says in conjunction with your post-loss obligations because sometimes if you have a duty to give the insurance company itemized quantification of the loss and support for the causes of loss, you have to incur certain expert fees to be able to provide that information to the carrier that they’re actually requesting. So, you know, there’s really not a black and white issue on that, but you always wanna look at the policy to see if those types of fees are recoverable. And make the best argument that you can and preserve your right to seek those costs in the long run.

Derek: Yeah, that’s a good point. I’ve spoken with…in fact, there’s one situation, one story that comes to mind. It’s a loss that we inspected down in Candor where the insurance company sent out their engineer, their engineer basically came out to this condominium complex. He said one of the units actually a huge three fell on this person’s home. And they eventually, six months after Irma made it out, they sent an engineer. The engineer basically said there’s like $15,000 damages, nothing wrong with the home. Well, the homeowner decided to get a second opinion from an independent engineer and basically the home was condemned. You know, they went and they wrote a letter to Dade county basically saying that this home is unsafe for occupation. And I mean, that’s a scary thought because I think a lot of folks out there are under the impression that when insurance companies sends out an expert and quotation marks, this expert has a fiduciary obligation to tell the truth no matter if it’s black or white or gray. And I mean, that’s a scary thought when, you know, these people come out and to a normal homeowner and these people are not getting the right advice and basically, you know, they’re under a huge risk because their home could collapse. I mean, these engineers don’t they have any type of, and maybe you don’t know this out, sort of under some type of oath or don’t they have a fiduciary obligation to do the right thing, so to speak?

Gina: I mean, it’s kind of a difficult question just because it involves so many different aspects. But generally speaking, when the insurance company sends out the engineers, they’re doing so to determine the cause of the loss. And if you look at most of the engineering and consulting reports from insurance company’s experts, it will specifically outline if that is the limited scope of their involvement. And they’re not providing an opinion, most of the time, it’s to the proper method of repair or code compliance issues. So really, it’s such a limited view of the loss that is the homeowner property owners in the position that there is significant damage, especially if it’s structural, they do need to get a second opinion, an independent, you know, engineer, someone who can draw up the plans, someone who can submit the permit, someone who can supervise the work. You know, especially when you’re dealing with, like you mentioned, the code issues in the tri-county area here, there are a lot different than they are across the state of Florida even.

And I have found especially recently given the 2017 and 2018 storms with these higher end commercial apartment complexes and office buildings, a lot of times they were built in the ’60s and the ’70s, and they comply with the code in the ’60s and ’70s but now once you reach a certain threshold of repairs, the building departments are requiring them to upgrade all the life safety issues. And some of these are coming up to such a high level of repair that the ordinance and law on code issues are trumping the actual direct damages from the storm. And that can get really expensive and really technical. And so, you know, if you’re faced with that situation, you absolutely want to get a second opinion. And it’s a good thing that the homeowner, you mentioned with the tree went out and did that. Unfortunately, the property was condemned but it’s not something they…

Derek: Right. But then they actually had to move out.

Gina: Right. You know, it’s unfortunate.

Derek: Tragic. Yeah, good. Let’s move on. That’s some good information about experts and how they fit in. As far as policies today, I mean, my history goes back, I’ve been through several storm seasons. I remember 2004, 2005 used to be a lot simpler. Correct me if I’m wrong, policies were different. They were less stringent on what constituted direct storm damage. I think verbiage has gotten very much more difficult to actually prove. That’s one of the things is that your experience between ’04, ’05 versus, you know, now, are there any other trap doors or any other loopholes that, you know, homeowners need to be aware of that may come back to hurt them later on?

Gina: Absolutely. In my prior life as a defense attorney, you know, I grew up with the litigation following Frances Jean and Wilma back in 2004 to about 2010 and I handled hundreds, if not thousands of lawsuits. And that time on behalf of insurance companies and the policies were absolutely different then. So you’re seeing a little bit of a trend in some of the language that has been approved for a few different reasons. One of the biggest changes that has come about recently, and it’s more prevalent in policies now, even though it has been lingering around for a while, is what’s called this Wind Created Opening Provision or Apparel Created Opening. And what happens under that provision is it typically says we do not cover interior damage resulting from rain or wind-driven rain unless there is an opening in the building and the building could mean windows or roofs or building envelope, but just, it depends on the policy language. But they won’t cover the interior damage unless there’s first an opening that’s created. I’ve seen policies that actually say the opening has to be permanent.

So there’s all these little tricks that are in these provisions and they’re really important for one major reason. The major reason is, switches the burden to the insured to prove certain things. Under a standard, you know, most standard exclusions, the insurance company has the burden to show that this loss was excluded. But when you have exceptions to exclusions, meaning we won’t pay for this and unless X, Y, and Z happens, that language shifts the burden to the insured to prove something. Right. So if you get a claim in and it’s a hurricane claim and there is a provision that says, “We don’t cover the interior unless there’s a wind created opening,” you better have some evidence of a wind created opening. And that really starts with the consultants and the experts because if the condition of the property changes or the insured makes repairs and there’s no photographs or videos, that can really prejudice the ability to recover. And you know, unfortunately, insurance companies have and continue to win in court on this issue. And you know, they’re winning dispositive motions, they’re winning trials. And if that happens, there’s the insured will have no ability to recover. So these provisions are scattered and you know, the residential and the commercial and all the policies. So it’s very important to recognize those and identify them very quickly because if you don’t, it may be too late.

Derek: But now okay, so I’m a homeowner. I have water coming into my home. I can’t see the sky through my roof, so there’s no massive opening. But how did the water get in? I mean, isn’t a common sense, I mean, how could this water travel through a building by osmosis? Isn’t that enough that I had a leak inside to say this, the insurance company, how could the water get in? Obviously, there’s an opening somewhere. I mean, I don’t know where it is, but there’s an opening and I’m covered, right? Is this not the case? Is it not enough?

Gina: It’s magic. It just comes in through magic. You know?

Derek: It doesn’t make sense to me.

Gina: Unfortunately, that’s not enough. And the reason being when you have that more limiting language is, as I said, you have to show that there was some type of opening. It may not have to be permanent. It could be a temporary opening that occurred during a wind event or a wind storm. Whereas typically if you do have water coming into your house and it’s coming through because maybe your window is old and, you know, it’s kind of subject to deterioration and water came in, that may be covered under certain provisions as an ensuing law to the wear and tear. But if you have this more limiting provision, it’s not gonna be enough. And I agreed, it is common sense, the water had to come from somewhere. I had a hurricane, there was wind, water came in. But what you’re seeing is the insurance companies raising, you know, the failure to maintain the wear and tear, the old age, as the reason the water came in, not the wind allowing the water to come in. So that’s the difference.

Derek: Even more reason for a homeowner, let’s say, or a building owner, you know, before something happens on an annual basis to have an independent company inspect the property, document the condition so that they set a baseline. For example, doing a moisture scan on a roof so that you know, God forbid you have a hurricane, you have water get into the roof, the insurance company could say, “Well, you didn’t maintain it. How do we know the water wasn’t there a year ago?” And if you’ve got that proof, then I would think that’s something that would be very valuable to you as a property owner.

Gina: Oh, absolutely. I mean, normally you don’t have that type of proof. A lot of the buildings you see will have their 40-year certifications and those are often very helpful because of the process that the buildings have to go through and to document its condition. But if you own a lot of property and you have a huge risk to hurricane damage, you know, as part of your risk management program, it’s not that expensive to have a drone photo taken of the roof or that. And you know, most of the drones now can do the infrared right from the drone. So it’s saving the man-hour time of actually someone climbing up on the roof with an infrared camera. It’s an easy thing to do.

Derek: I often assimilate, you know, somebody maintain their property or their roofs to go into the dentist. We hate doing it, you don’t wanna go until there’s pain, right? And the pain is severe. So do you want a little bit of pain, clean your teeth now, or do you want a whole lot of heartache and pain later on where, you know, this affects your business and your life, especially with the way policies are written now? I mean, I think, you know, if property owners that own multiple buildings have a relationship with someone like you or GCI that’s already in the corner and checking out the building every two years, I mean it seems like after a storm you’d just be able to flip a switch. And any piece of paper they ask you for, you can provide very quickly and very accurately. And you know, what a lot of people don’t understand is that an insurance policy that they simply buy and throw in the bottom drawer is a contract that says it’s an insurance contract and you have obligations.

And I think there’s a misunderstanding or a discounting of what that actually means, a contract that they will enforce is, you know, it’s something that one needs to be aware of and be able to comply with very quickly. So with that said, I wanted to ask you something else that I’ve run across. And that’s the matching statute in policies which, for our listeners, matching statute means if my roof is damaged or my floor is damaged and that product is no longer available in certain policies, the insurance company is liable to pay for the replacement of the entire home or what have you because it cannot be matched and it’ll look like a checkerboard. Is that something that, you know, folks still can expect to happen or insurance companies both on commercial and residential claims is gonna be fighting these as well? I mean, what are you seeing out there?

Gina: As far as the residential, there is a statute that is commonly referred to as the matching statute. And as far as the residential, typically, you know, they might fight it because there’s other things that come into play as well because they’re gonna be arguing what percentage of the roof and one of the tiles can be painted, whether they can be found in the boneyard, whether they’re operating under an approved NOAA weather code comes involved, so it’s not ever gonna be very clean cut and then you have issues. Maybe not even the roof, but interior flooring, whether there’s a threshold, whether it’s aesthetic. I mean, there are certain policies now where for a while there, there was a lot of litigation overmatching of the interior tile floor. And a lot of policies have inserted limitations now saying that if the damage to the floor is purely aesthetic, we’re only gonna pay $10,000. So if it’s an aesthetic issue versus an actual functionality of the flooring system, there’s gonna be a huge debate over that, which again is where the experts and consultants come into play. Because if the usefulness and the purpose of the floor is somehow impacted by the loss, that’s not just aesthetic. So those are permissions that you need to look for in the policy. I mean, for the most part, I’ve seen those aesthetic provisions linked to flooring, but I can’t tell you whether there’s not ones out there that are also linked to roofing systems. So it definitely has something…

Derek: I know there are. I know there are. I had a situation in Texas which, you know, because in Texas we know hail is pretty prevalent everywhere, and in the San Antonio, Dallas area there’s a tremendous amount of hail and insurance companies got beat up pretty bad. And what happened was with all these metal roofing systems and what a lot of these property owners were unaware of is that there was a cosmetic exclusion in there which basically said if baseball hit your roof, baseball size hail hit your roof and it’s dented everywhere but the damage is only cosmetic, then we’re not gonna pay for the replacement. So I mean, your roof probably look terrible now. And if somebody was gonna come and buy your building or buy your home, they’re gonna ask for a huge discount because your home looks terrible and yet insurance companies are standing on the fact that a lot of these folks that were unaware of these cosmetic writers or exclusions in the policy were now basically left out in the field. And that’s very scary. I mean, metal roofs are very expensive. So I certainly think having evaluated hundreds of rooms that a metal roof that’s dented now is gonna hold residue after a storm because now all the water’s not gonna be able to drain off of that. Yes, it may not be directly damaged right now, but five years from now, you know, the corrosion, the surfacing of that roof may have been impacted and it may start rusting and now I have to pay out-of-pocket to have it replaced. So I know that’s a tough one for Texans to swallow, but it’s all about, you know, knowledge is power and it’s being aware of what’s in your policy.

Gina: No, absolutely. You know, I was looking at a client’s policy the other day for a specific issue, but as I was looking at it, it was a new renewal policy. I see in like, you know, this little corner of the policy that they exclude wind-driven rain. And you know, it boggles my mind, you think you’re buying a policy for hurricane coverage and, you know, interior water damage. And it may cover it, but to have those little exclusions hidden throughout the policy, you know, one of the things I always say is what you don’t know can hurt you because it is unbelievable the things that are in the policy and I bet everyone listening, most people don’t have any idea what their policy says. They don’t read it.

Derek: And also what happens is you get…like if you, for example, if you would farmers or all state or state farm or what have you, the year that you buy the policy, you get a full copy of the policy. Each, and correct me if I’m wrong because you may be the expert on this, each year I renew it, all I get are some basic pages and I don’t even know what’s being taken out or put in that policy. I mean, what kind of a deal is that? I don’t even know what it’s in my policy, yet I think it’s the same as the one I have in my drawer and it might be completely different. Is that the case?

Gina: Well, typically you’re gonna have the standard form and then once a year you’ll get whatever applicable endorsements or changes to the policies. On my last renewal, I got an endorsement to make sure the carrier knew that marsupial damage was no longer covered under my policy, which you know, just made me laugh because of the detail that they go into on these exclusions. But you can always ask for ask your agent or you can ask the insurance company for, you know, you prefer to get a certified copy. That way you know that it’s a full and complete version. Citizen is very good about giving certified copies. Other carriers, you know, kind of argue whether it has to be certified or not. But you know, it’s always a good idea before hurricane season hits to make sure you have a full copy of your policy and do it soon because if there’s any issues that you didn’t have time to address them with your agent.

Derek: So, yeah. You, so you got a note saying Marsupials were no longer covered, so you know that if a kangaroo jumps onto your roof, you don’t have coverage, right?

Gina: There’s no coverage for kangaroos. Yeah. Yeah.

Derek: Shoot, I mean that’s an important one to have I guess in Australia but maybe not here.

Gina: Yeah. I’m really glad they clarify that for me, so

Derek: Any other points you want to make? I mean, I think we’ve covered a lot. I think, you know, we’ve some real valid points for the listeners out there, how important it is to have, you know, a plan ahead of time so that you limit the stress and the anxiety later on. I know one other thing that has changed and I think maybe you can expand on this a little bit before we wrap it up, but appraisal is there. So I’m having a struggle with my insurance company. What are my options? Like what’s option A, B, and C and how has that changed over the past few years in your experience?

Gina: Yeah, and for those who are listening who don’t know what appraisal is, appraisal is an alternative dispute resolution process that is kind of specific to property insurance policies. And in the event that the insurance company and the insured don’t agree on the amount or the scope of the loss, each party selects an appraiser. They tried to agree on the amount of the loss. If they can’t, they appoint a third person called the umpire. And the decision of any two is binding. I mean, there’s a lot more to that, you know, depending on the facts of the case and what jurisdiction you’re in and everything. But essentially, that’s how it works, kind of an alternative dispute resolution process. Appraisal used to be pretty big and for a while a lot of carriers were getting hit what they believed to be pretty hard in the appraisal process, so they backed away from it a little bit.

Now, it’s back. It’s coming back now. You know, I just saw an article and I don’t know if it was a Sun-Sentinel or The Palm Beach Post talking about how Citizens is offering to cover certain costs of the appraisal to get claims resolved, where typically the insured has the obligation to pay their appraiser and half of the umpire. So it could be an option depending on the case. It’s typically a lot faster than litigation. It’s a little bit less of a headache because you don’t have to be involved with depositions and discovery in court, but the decision of two people is binding unless there’s some type of extraordinary circumstances, which normally are fraud or, you know, some type of misrepresentation, it’s hard to overturn an appraisal award.

You know, when I’m seeing a lot of in the larger-layered policy, which are typically, you know, people who have Lloyd policy developers who have master policies in many properties under it, there’s a lot of arbitration provisions. A lot of times, those arbitration provisions could potentially preclude your ability to file a lawsuit. It just obviously depends on the policy language, how it’s written. But if you don’t know that and you think you have the ability to file suit and maybe there’s an argument that you don’t, that’s quite a huge surprise to any property owner.

Derek: Well, that tells me that they need someone like you to make sure they know what their options are and what the consequences of each are before they make that decision. I mean, making an educated decision versus a knee-jerk decision sounds like a pretty vital thing to be able to do. And having you in their corner would make a difference real quick. So after appraisal, I got a good settlement. I mean, and you know, we spoke a little bit about ordinance and law. Do I just expect the check for all these different coverages immediately? Can the carrier hold back any depreciation for any part of this or do I get, for example, if the payment is split between, you know, coverage A and then ordinance and law, can they hold anything back? Am I gonna be required to have completed the work as it would be, you know, in a normal claim recovery or how does that process work?

Gina: For the appraisal award, payment of the appraisal award, the timing is gonna be governed by the policy. The policy has a lost payment provision which says, “We’ll issue payment within so many days after the filing of an appraisal award with us.” It’s normally somewhere between 30 and 90 days. Depending on the policy, as far as the ordinance and law coverage, most policies do require that that be incurred or that the repairs are being made. So, you know, often, and I can’t say that this is all the time or all carriers do it, but sometimes an insurance company will just pay the whole appraisal award to be done with the claim or to try to get a release to give some consideration for the insurer to release the entire claim. Other time, they want the documentation of incurred expenses or they wanna see that the repairs have been made. It really is gonna depend on the policy. It’s gonna depend on the carrier.

What is interesting that the law did clarify in the recent years is that an appraisal award is sufficient evidence of the amount of loss to allow an insurer to file a bad faith lawsuit, which you know, the bad faith lawsuit is for extra-contractual damages that may not be covered under the policy. So it used to be that the theories were you had to go to trial and get essentially a judgment or you had to get a judgment through the court system. But the case law has clarified that significantly to say that an appraisal award is enough. So carriers are often hesitant to go to appraisal because of the threat of bad faith. So in the event that there are damages such as, you know, law and ordinance damages that could potentially be outstanding, sometimes carriers may be motivated to resolve it so they can wrap up everything and know that there’s not a bad faith lawsuit coming.

Derek: So the property owner can file suit even after appraisal for bad faith if they feel they’ve been treated unfairly.

Gina: Yes, as long as they…I mean, a prerequisite to any extra-contractual lawsuit is the filing of a civil remedy notice which a civil remedy notice is a statutorily created document. It essentially puts the carrier on notice of what they did to act in bad faith. And there’s categories of statute sets out. And then the insurance company has a certain amount of time to cure those allegations. If you don’t file the CRN, you absolutely do not have a right to the bad faith lawsuit. It’s a statutory prerequisite that you wanna make sure it’s done. But generally speaking, yes, the appraisal award is gonna be a sufficient award, sufficient document to allow you to proceed further if necessary.

Derek: Yeah. Right. Is there anything else you wanna bring up before we wrap up or I think, I mean we’ve discussed quite a bit. That’s been some great information for the listeners. Anything else you feel we need to know and that, you know, would help us down the road? And you know, a lot of people, I know of tons and tons of homeowners and property owners that are still waiting for their first dollar after Irma. Can they still call you? I mean, are they done? Can they hire you now or how does that process work and how do they get in touch with you?

Gina: No, absolutely. The time’s not out to file the hurricane claims at this point. You do have certain notice provisions under your policy. So if you have not filed a claim for whatever reason, it’s really important to figure out what your damages are and get that filed as soon as possible. Generally speaking, you know, you have to give notice promptly, but the statute of limitations does not run out on the hurricane claims. And there’s a lot. And I have a lot of claims, especially the larger commercial ones that are still being adjusted by the insurance company. And I think a lot of that has to do with the volume of claims and the amount of hurricanes we’ve had over the last couple of years. It’s been a stress on the industry for sure. But depending on your policy, you likely can file a lawsuit or demand appraisal or arbitration or mediation.

There’s a lot of different ways to resolve a claim. It’s just, you know, it may not always be a rush to litigation or to file suit. It really depends on the insured and what they need to get their life or their business back in order. For some people it’s, let me just get paid and move on. Some people wanna go all the way and have their day at trial. But there are a lot of options to get things resolved. But if you think that you know what you’re getting from the insurance company isn’t sufficient, I absolutely recommend talking to a professional to see if there’s anything that can be done.

Derek: Yeah. Then they should just give you a call. How do they, should they email you? What number or how do they reach Berger Singerman and how do they get to you?

Gina: Well, my direct line is 561-893-8711, that’s 561-893-8711. You know, we have offices in Boca, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Tallahassee.

Derek: Fantastic. Yeah. And I know I think you may be presenting again at the Windstorm Conference coming up in Orlando at the end of January, which I’m looking forward to. I know there’s gonna be a lot of good information and experts on hand there, you know, in our industry. So with that said, you know, thanks so much for being with us today and sharing your experience and vital information with our listeners. For you folks out there, thanks so much for joining Gina and myself today. Please visit us on the web at www.gciconsultants.com and be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and be sure to check out some of our cool videos and where you’ll actually see us in action doing some forensic testing on windows, doors, and roofing. And we’ll definitely bring you, you know, valuable information in the future. Just stay tuned and thanks so much for joining us today and thank you, Gina, for being a part of “Everything Building Envelope” podcast today.

Gina: You’re welcome. Thanks again for having me.