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Images compiled by Insurance Journal show the devastation to the Florida Panhandle caused by Hurricane Michael, which hit the region Oct. 10 as a Category 4 storm. Loss estimates range from $3 to $9 billion, according to catastrophe modelers, and some reports say the economic impact could be more than $25 billion.

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https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2018/10/12/504423.htm

 

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Please call Lee from Acentria Insurance at 954-270-7966 for free quotes on Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, private Flood, Car, Business & Commercial Insurance as well as Life , Health and all group benefits large & small

Insurers, reinsurers and ILS investors could face significant losses from Hurricane Michael, a major Category 4 storm that began its assault on the Florida Panhandle Wednesday, according to a briefing from A.M. Best.

Best said although Florida’s insurance market-share leaders possess strong levels of risk-adjusted capitalization that should provide a buffer against Hurricane Michael losses, there will still be an impact for insurers writing in the state, according to a new A.M. Best briefing.

Furthermore, while nearly all A.M. Best-rated Florida property companies have substantial property catastrophe premium, some have strategically limited their exposures in the panhandle, and therefore are not significantly exposed to this hurricane.

“However, the question of how the state’s relatively new, Florida-specific insurers might withstand the impact of substantial insurable losses caused by Hurricane Michael remains,” Best noted. “In addition, depending on the storm’s intensity after making landfall, the potential for insurable losses could put some pressure on reinsurers. The actual impact of the hurricane will depend on a number of yet undetermined factors, but A.M. Best believes that most of the affected rated carriers have sufficient capital and appropriate reinsurance programs to withstand this event effectively.”

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Please call Lee from Acentria Insurance at 954-270-7966 for free quotes on Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, private Flood, Car, Business & Commercial Insurance as well as Life , Health and all group benefits large & small.

Hurricane Michael, a Category 4 storm hitting Florida Wednesday with wind speeds of more than 150 miles per hour, is not just a major storm for the State of Florida, it is the strongest storm to hit the Florida Panhandle since hurricane records began, according to AIR Worldwide.

In an update released Wednesday from the catastrophe modeling firm, AIR said while there have been several other storms in recent history that have intensified more rapidly—Wilma increased from a 70 mph tropical storm to a 170 mph Category 5 in one day—what is unique about Michael is where it occurred: just prior to landfall, in an area that has never experienced a storm of this intensity.

“Not only is Michael potentially historic for where it will make landfall, it is also unique in terms of when,” AIR said. “If preliminary reports about Michael’s landfall near Mexico Beach, Fla., are correct, Michael will be recorded as the most intense hurricane on record to have struck land in the North Atlantic basin (which includes the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean) in the month of October.”

AIR noted that to date, the strongest hurricanes impacting the Florida Panhandle were all Category 3 storms. Among them, the 1917 unnamed storm #4, hurricanes Opal 1995, Ivan 2004 (an Alabama landfall that impacted Florida), and Dennis 2005. All four storms made landfall west of where Hurricane Michael struck.

The Florida Panhandle went nearly 80 years before experiencing another major hurricane. Opal in 1995 made landfall east of Pensacola with 115 mph winds. As with Hurricane Michael, Opal made use of the extremely warm water of the Gulf of Mexico, as well as favorable upper-level conditions, and rapidly intensified to a Category 4 hurricane before weakening and making landfall as a Category 3, AIR said.

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https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2018/10/10/504018.htm

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Two recent decisions from the Florida Supreme Court that reversed rulings by the same District Court of Appeal will have a serious impact on the insurance industry.

The consequential rulings came on Sept. 20, 2018 in the cases of Harvey v. GEICO General Insurance Co., and Odom v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in which the Florida Supreme Court’s used its power of discretionary review to reverse decisions by the Fourth District Court of Appeal.

Harvey v. GEICO General Insurance Co.

In Harvey v. GEICO General Insurance Co., No. SC17-85, So. 3d (Fla. Sept. 20, 2018), the Florida Supreme Court found there was support for a jury’s finding of bad faith and held that the Fourth District “misstated” the law. It’s 4-3 ruling reversed a Fourth District Court of Appeal decision siding with GEICO General Insurance Co. in a $9.2 million judgement against the insurer.

The case stemmed from an automobile accident that caused a man’s death by the plaintiff’s vehicle, which was covered under an insurance liability policy of $100,000 through GEICO. The auto insurer tried to settle the matter by providing the man’s estate with a check for the full policy limits. The estate argued that GEICO failed to provide a statement from the insured plaintiff, which might have indicated the plaintiff’s assets.

The estate returned the check and filed a wrongful death suit against the plaintiff, and a jury awarded the estate $8.47 million.

The plaintiff then filed a bad faith claim against GEICO, claiming that the attorney for the estate would have advised the estate to settle for the insurance policy limits had he known that the plaintiff would not have sufficient assets to cover a potential jury award. The jury found that GEICO had acted in bad faith and awarded the plaintiff a judgment of $9.2 million. GEICO appealed and the Fourth District Court of Appeals reversed the award, concluding that the plaintiff had not provided sufficient evidence of bad faith because even if GEICO acted deficiently, it did not cause the excess judgment against the plaintiff.

In the Sept. 20 majority opinion to reverse Fourth DCA’s decision by the Florida Supreme Court, Justice Quince, joined by Justices Pariente, Lewis, and Labarga, found there was competent, substantial evidence to support the jury’s finding of bad faith, and held that the Fourth District “misstated” the law.

Justices Canady and Polston dissented in separate opinions, joined by Justice Lawson, that the Florida Supreme Court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case because the Fourth District Court’s opinion did not expressly and directly conflict with prior Florida Supreme Court decisions.

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https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2018/10/02/502957.htm

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In a significant turn of events in the insurance industry’s fight against Florida assignment of benefits (AOB) abuse, Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal (DCA) has ruled that an insurer’s anti-assignment provision was not prohibited.

But the battle isn’t over yet as it is likely this decision will be brought to the Florida Supreme Court.

The Fourth DCA ruling came on Sept. 5, 2018 in the case of Restoration of Port St. Lucie, a/a/o, John and Liza Squitieri v. Ark Royal Insurance Co., in which the court disagreed with a decision by the Fifth DCA in Dec. 2017 prohibiting any such conditions.

The Fourth DCA found that a homeowner’s insurance policy may contain a restriction requiring the consent of all of the insured and the mortgagees before a valid assignment of benefits. The ruling could allow insurers to seek to use these restrictions to stem the rise of fake or exaggerated claims and allow parties with valid, vested interests in a property to have a say in the assignment. The ruling could be a turning point in stemming abuse of AOBs that is leading to increased homeowner insurance rates statewide.

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https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2018/09/20/501785.htm

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Evacuations, already affecting more than 1 million people in and around North Carolina, start the clock ticking on business-interruption insurance policies, which help replace lost income for companies when natural disasters strike. Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. and FM Global are among insurers with exposure in the region that are sending staff to help with anticipated claims.

“You’d have to expect, just based on the forecast, that it’s going to be a significant impact to businesses,” including prolonged disruptions, said Rick Miller, head of the U.S. property practice at Aon Plc. “Certainly businesses that take a direct hit, their facilities could be impacted for months.”

Making matters worse for insurers, forecasters say that Florence may stall over land, potentially dumping rain for days and causing power failures. The storm, expected to make landfall late Thursday or early Friday, may trigger “catastrophic flash flooding,” the National Weather Service said. Companies from agricultural firm Cargill Inc. to carmaker Daimler AG suspended operations in Florence’s path.

Florence could become the most powerful storm to hit the area in more than 60 years if its intensity continues. One estimate pegged the potential total costs of the storm at $30 billion.

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https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2018/09/12/500783.htm

Please call lee from Acentria Insurance at 954-270-7966 for free quotes on Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Business & Commercial and life, Health and group benefits of all kinds.

I know our agency received about 100 calls in just our Fort Lauderdale location on the Day after Labor day before Irma was coming looking for flood Insurance. The fact is we have waiting periods of 10-30 days so last minute is way to lets for the storm so please be prepared.

Last year’s intense hurricane season has motivated most Florida residents to prepare for hurricanes that could hit the state this year, according to a recent survey by the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI). The results showed a higher percentage of preparedness among Floridians than other hurricane-prone states, but more than 60 percent still say they have not purchased flood insurance.

Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of residents in Florida say they have taken precautions in advance of the 2018 hurricane season, according to a new poll conducted online by SurveyMonkey on behalf of PCI. More than half of the 654 Florida respondents of the poll, taken between July 9-23, said last year’s hurricanes prompted them to take precautions. Nearly 38 percent reported that their property suffered damage due to last year’s storms.

Among the other hurricane-prone states surveyed in this poll, including Texas, North Carolina, and Louisiana, Floridians reported being the most prepared. Overall poll results of 1,831 residents across Texas, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida found 56 percent have not taken any precautions this year in advance of hurricane season. Only 35 percent said that last year’s storms prompted them to take any precautions this year.

Florida is the most hurricane-prone state in the United States, with 40 percent of all United States hurricanes hitting the state, according to the National Oceanic Atomospheric Administration (NOAA). Since 1851, there have been 118 direct hurricane hits in Florida.

“While we’ve not had much activity this hurricane season in the Atlantic basin, the threat of a storm quickly developing is still a possibility. Historically, August and September are active months for hurricanes and as we saw last year with Hurricane Irma it only takes one storm to cause massive amounts of property damage,” said Logan McFaddin, PCI’s Florida regional manager.

The poll included various categories to gauge hurricane readiness, including:

Flood Insurance

  • 63 percent of Floridians do not have flood insurance despite 71 percent saying it’s necessary to help in recovery efforts following a natural disaster
  • 13 percent of residents do not know if their existing homeowners or renters insurance policy covers flood damage

Emergency Plans

  • 68 percent of Florida residents are familiar with their local municipality, county, or state evacuation plan, with the same percentage saying they have developed an emergency plan and shared it with their household
  • 54 percent in Florida have an emergency bag, which includes necessities such as medication, non-perishable food, and water
  • More than half (51 percent) have not conducted a home inventory in the event that property and/or possessions are destroyed, damaged, or lost in a disaster

Financial Preparations

  • 71 percent of Floridians have readily available cash or savings to meet short term expenses that may arise following a natural disaster
  • 69 percent report that they have stored important financial papers and documents in a safe deposit box or online for easy access

Contractor Fraud & Abuse

PCI said following a severe storm it is common for “crooked” contractors to try and take advantage of consumers needing repairs. In Florida, abuse related to water damage and assignment of benefits claims has been a particular problem and the insurance industry and regulators are working to educate policyholders on this escalating abuse.

  • 80 percent are at least somewhat familiar with the signs of contractor fraud and abuse
  • Yet, 14 percent said they would pay upfront for the rebuilding or repair costs if it meant getting their property fixed more quickly and 18 percent aren’t sure if they would
  • 8 percent of residents said they would accept an unsolicited offer from someone to make repairs to their home