How To Submit A Hurricane Insurance Claim For My Business?

Hurricane Michael

Hurricane Michael was the third-most intense Atlantic hurricane to make landfall in the United States in terms of pressure, behind the 1935 Labor Day hurricane and Hurricane Camille of 1969. It was also the strongest in terms of maximum sustained wind speed to strike the contiguous United States since Andrew in 1992. In addition, it was the strongest on record in the Florida Panhandle, and was the fourth-strongest landfalling hurricane in the contiguous United States, in terms of wind speed.(Wikipedia Hurricane Michael)

Business Claims

Hurricane Claims can be very complex. Businesses affected by Hurricane Michael should immediately start the claim process for the loss. Commercial Property Insurance Claims require the need for a professional to protect the rights of the business and business owners.

When a catastrophic/hurricane loss occurs, a business owner’s first impulse is to do whatever is needed to mitigate the loss and restart operations as soon as possible. However, settling a commercial property insurance claim is a complex business transaction, and business owners should treat it with the same diligence and with professional assistance as when negotiating a critical business contract. Accepting the insurance company adjuster’s opinions or the insurance company’s offer of settlement without investigation or review of all policies for available coverages will likely result in a settlement which is far less than the business is owed.

A commercial property claim includes the cost of restoring the businesses’ property to pre-loss conditions within the limits of insurance purchased, while maintaining the business during the time needed to rebuild or repair damaged property. The business owner is faced with investigating and documenting losses, tangible and not, and becoming familiar with the insurance policies which include the coverages available, limitations on those coverages, deductibles, conditions precedent, as well as the specific requirements necessary to make a claim.

Commercial Insurance  Policies Cover:

  • “Property Damage,” including the buildings, fixtures, machines, furnishings, raw materials, and inventory.
  • “Business Interruption,” which is intended to place an insured business in the position it would have attained, had the loss that caused the interruption not occurred. It should provide funds necessary to sustain the insured business while its operations are suspended as a result of damage caused by a covered peril. It typically pays a business’s profit and continuing operating expenses, including payroll, for a specific time period.
  • “Extra Expense,” which covers expenses incurred in mitigating the business loss, or increased costs in continuing a business in the wake of a catastrophe. It can reimburse a policyholder for money spent moving a covered business to a different location while the covered property is restored. It is intended to offset expenses associated with returning to normal operations. Equipment breakdown coverage is often available with this coverage and should be purchased if a customer’s business is dependent upon certain equipment.
  • “Contingent Business Interruption” is usually an extension of the business interruption coverage available in most commercial property policies. Contingent Business Interruption provides the insured with benefits to cover lost profits and extra expenses resulting from damage to a third party’s property, typically in four situations: (1) when the insured business relies on a third party to deliver materials or product; (2) when the insured business depends upon a third party to manufacture products; 3) when the insured business depends on a third party to purchase its products; and 4) when the insured business depends on a third party leader location to attract customers.
  • “Ordinary Payroll Coverage” provides for salaries as a continued expense, and a policy may provide coverage for a business to pay hourly employees for a specified period of time while the business is closed.
  • “Loss of Rents” pays for lost income when a covered rental property is made uninhabitable by a covered event and renters need not make rental payments. A lease or a rental agreement is helpful in estimating the amount of coverage needed.
  • “Extended Period of Indemnity” provides business interruption and extra expense benefits beyond the period of restoration defined in the standard business interruption policy.
  • “Civil Authority” coverage provides business income benefits when a civil authority prohibits access to the insured property due to direct physical loss or damage to other property. It is most commonly triggered during mandatory evacuations.
  • “Utility Services – Time Element” extends business income and extra expense insurance to protect against losses caused by interruption of services from a specified utility that provides a business with water, power, or communications.
  • “Loss of Ingress or Egress” provides benefits when, as a direct result of a covered peril, ingress to or egress from real and personal property is prevented.

The  insurance policy benefits will sustain a business through the disaster and the following recovery. It is important to know which coverages the policy you purchased contains, and claim the benefits you are entitled.

When a business is damaged as the result of a hurricane, the business owner has current insurance, an experienced insurance lawyer can help. If you have been adversely affected by a hurricane and want to know your rights as a policyholder, call us to see how we can assist you in evaluating your case. By filing a hurricane damage claim, you can start recovering from this unexpected disaster.

Max Factor is an experienced insurance attorney who can assist you with this process. For more information contact Max Factor.

Child Support

Child Support

Support Your Child

Florida law states that both parents are legally obligated to provide support for their minor child/children. Child support payment is considered a right of the child not the parent. The purpose of child support is to meet the the child’s basic needs for food, clothing and shelter, as well as to allow the child/children to share in the wealth and good fortune of their parent’s. In a dissolution of marriage or paternity action, child support is calculated pursuant to guidelines set forth in the child support laws in Florida. The child support guidelines are also used for actions to modify the amount of child support.

How is the Amount of Child Support Established?

The amount of Child support is established based on the Florida Child Support Guidelines formula. The formula takes into consideration the net income of both parents, health insurance premiums being paid the parents and the daycare costs for the child/children. The formula also accounts for the number of over-nights the child/children spend with each parent. The Child Support “guidelines” are contained in Section 61.30, Florida Statutes.

 

The Florida Department of Revenue uses a calculator to determine the specific amount to child support to be paid by the parents. The Calculator can be found here.

 When child support is initially determined, retroactive support may be established for the time period between the date the parents separated and the date that the child support order goes into effect. If the parties separated more than twenty-four months prior to the filing of the action requesting child support, retroactive support will generally be capped at twenty-four months. The law regarding retroactive Child Support is also found in Section 61.30, Florida Statutes.

Can the Amount of Child Support be Modified?

In Florida, Child Support can be modified at any time based upon a showing of a substantial, permanent and unanticipated change in circumstances. What constitutes a substantial change in circumstances includes but is not limited to, the loss of a job, the termination of the child’s attendance at daycare, the disability of a parent, an increase in the costs of health insurance or daycare, or a substantial increase or decrease (15% or greater) in either parent’s income. Further, a permanent change is one that has lasted or is anticipated to last for one year or more. Generally, a modification can only be effective as of the date of filing of the action for modification. Therefore, any arrears that accrued due to non-payment of child support after the loss of a job but before the modification action was filed will remain due and owing. The law regarding modification is found in Section 61.13, Florida Statutes.

How is Child Support Enforced?

There are a number of ways to enforce child support.  Including: contempt of court, suspension of the obligor’s driver’s license, and the placement of a lien on the obligor’s property. The Florida Department of Revenue has additional enforcement mechanisms including suspension of the obligor’s passport, and seizure of the obligor’s bank account.
The Clerk of Court can also will enter a judgment on the arrears that have accrued when child support is payable through the State Disbursement Unit. Once such a judgment is entered, interest begins to accrue. Therefore it is best to make child support payments in a timely manner whenever possible. There is no statute of limitations on the enforcement of child support and its arrears. Therefore, child support can be enforced after the children emancipate, and even against the estate of the obligor after the death of the obligor. The law regarding enforcement of Child Support is found in Section 61.13, Florida Statutes.

For more information please contact me at Max@maxfactorlaw.com

 

 

Insured’s Election of Non-Stacking Uninsured-Motorist Coverage

The Florida Supreme Court recently issued an opinion regarding whether a Named Insured’s Election of Non-Stacking Uninsured-Motorist Coverage is Binding on Behalf of all Insureds. Many people need to be reminded of the difference between Stacked and Non-Stacking car insurance. Stacked insurance is a method to increase your amount of auto coverage for underinsured and uninsured motorist bodily injury. Stacked coverage will only apply if you have more than one car covered. By stacking insurance, you can take advantage of increased underinsured and uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage for all cars under your policy.

Named Insured's Election of Non-Stacking Uninsured-Motorist Coverage

Stacking Auto Insurance:

Auto insurance stacking is combining coverage for underinsured and uninsured motorist bodily injury when you have multiple cars insured. By combining coverage, you can substantially increase the payment limits of your auto insurance if you have an accident with an uninsured motorist. For example, if you had $100,000/$200,000 coverage and decided to exercise the stacking option for a second car, stacked coverage for both cars would be 200,000/$400,000 (existing coverage times two cars). With three cars, the coverage would increase to $300,000/$600,000 and so forth for additional vehicles.

Non-stacked Auto Insurance:

When you have unstacked insurance coverage and have multiple cars on a policy, you do not have to stack the coverage. Referring to the example above , each car would be covered at $100,000/$200,000 individually. So it doesn’t  matter how many cars you have on the policy, the amount of coverage for each car stays the same. Unstacked coverage saves money in premium, because stacking coverage is more expensive . However, if you were to try to increase the coverage level of each car to the amount the stacked coverage would be, you’d find it even more expensive and more complicated than stacking.

The Benefit of Stacking Auto Insurance

The major gain to stacking insurance is that when you have multiple cars,  you can substantially increase your policy payment limits for uninsured and underinsured bodily injury. As you add coverage for two or three cars, those policy coverage limits will multiply significantly.

Therefore, if you become involved in a serious car accident with an underinsured or uninsured motorist, the stacked policy limits will increase the availability of coverage for any of your damages or medical expenses related to the accident. If the person who caused the accident does not have enough coverage, having stacked coverage can provide substantial gain for you to meet the gap between their coverage and the coverage you have available through your policy.

The Florida Supreme Court recently discussed the topic of non-stacked auto insurance in the Travelers Commercial Ins. v. Harrington, case. The Court was asked whether the named insured’s election of non-stacking uninsured-motorist coverage is binding on behalf of all insureds.

Is A Named Insured’s Election of Non-Stacking Uninsured-Motorist Coverage is Binding on Behalf of all Insureds?

The Court determined that a named insured’s election of non-stacking uninsured-motorist coverage in Florida is binding on behalf of all insureds under the insurance policy. Allowing additional insureds to stack coverage would have put the additional insureds in a better position than the named insured by giving them a benefit for which they did not pay. Moreover, allowing the additional insureds to stack coverage would have prevents the insurer from receiving the reduced liability risk for which the insurer bargained.

At the time of writing this article, the Traveler’s opinion was awaiting approval for publication. The opinion in this case and others issued by the Florida Supreme Court website.

If you have a question about this post or would like assistance with a contract or a matter in litigation please contact me. My office is located at 115 N. Calhoun Street, Tallahassee, Florida. My telephone number is (850)577-1699. My email address is Max@maxfactorlaw.com

Max Factor is a seasoned trial attorney who provides top-notch legal and consulting services to a broad range of clients including large companies, small businesses, governmental entities, not-for-profit entities, and individuals. He provides personal and detailed attention to each client’s case. Mr. Factor is licensed to practice in all state and federal courts within the State of Florida, State of Georgia, and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

 

Does A Party Waive Its Right To Arbitration By Filing A Counterclaim?

In situations where a written contract provides the parties with the right to arbitration and one party files a lawsuit against the other party, the question that arises is whether the responding party can invoke its contractual right to have the issue resolved by arbitration? Keeping in mind the rules of procedure which may require the responding party to also file a counterclaim and the fact that the responding party will possibly waive its right to arbitration by participating in the litigation, the outstanding question is, “Does A Party Waive Its Right To Arbitration By Filing A Counterclaim?”

Does A Party Waive Its Right To Arbitration By Filing A Counterclaim?    Does A Party Waive Its Right To Arbitration By Filing A Counterclaim?

Recently the Florida Second District Court of Appeal answered this question. The Court held that a party did not waive its contractual right to arbitration by filing a counterclaim. In the Andre Franklin, Inc. v. Wax, decision the Court held that a contractor against whom homeowners brought an action to resolve a dispute over payment for services, did not waive its contractual right to arbitration by filing a counterclaim simultaneously with its motion to compel arbitration, a motion to dismiss, and a motion to abate. The contractor did not implement discovery or take other actions that were inconsistent with the right to arbitrate the dispute. In so holding, the District Court of Appeal distinguished Coral 97 Associates, Ltd. v. Chino Elec., Inc., a case in which the defendant was found to have waived its contractual right to arbitration. However, unlike the instant case, it was the act of implementing discovery, following the simultaneous filings of the counterclaim and motions to arbitrate and dismiss, that was inconsistent with the right to arbitrate the dispute.

Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal’s opinion in this case clearly states that in situations where the party is seeking to invoke arbitration in response to the complaint, and has not participated in discovery, a Party Does Not Waive Its Right To Arbitration By Filing A Counterclaim.

At the time of writing this article, the Andre opinion was awaiting approval for publication. The opinion in this case and others issued by the Second District Court of Appeal can be found on its website.

If you have a question about this post or would like assistance with a contract or a matter in litigation please contact me. My office is located at 115 N. Calhoun Street, Tallahassee, Florida. My telephone number is (850)577-1699. My email address is Max@maxfactorlaw.com

Max Factor is a seasoned trial attorney who provides top-notch legal and consulting services to a broad range of clients including large companies, small businesses, governmental entities, not-for-profit entities, and individuals. He provides personal and detailed attention to each client’s case. Mr. Factor is licensed to practice in all state and federal courts within the State of Florida, State of Georgia, and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.