Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma Insurance Claims - Consumer Justice Foundation

Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma Insurance Claims

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Homeowners and business owners in Puerto Rico and other areas devastated by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria in September 2017 are now struggling with the larger implications of denied, delayed and underpaid residential and business insurance claims.

In the aftermath of a catastrophic event like a hurricane or earthquake, people who have suffered significant personal or professional losses expect and are entitled to have their insurance claims paid by the insurance company that held the policy, in a timely manner and for a fair amount. However, individuals and families affected by the devastation of Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma are suffering significant economic losses and their residential and business insurance claims are being delayed, underpaid or denied altogether. Homeowners and business owners in Puerto Rico in particular have suffered a great deal since the hurricanes struck the island just two weeks apart in September 2017, and they continue to face considerable challenges in rebuilding their lives and businesses, some without the help of the insurance claims they so desperately need. With the help of a reputable insurance bad faith attorney who has experience working with denied, delayed and underpaid Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma claims, you can work to settle any residential or commercial property insurance claim dispute. Contact Consumer Justice Foundation today to learn about your rights.

Losses from Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Irma was a Category 5 hurricane that made landfall in September 2017, resulting in 134 fatalities and costing nearly $65 billion in property damage, devastating homeowners and business owners in Puerto Rico, Florida, Saint Martin, Cuba, the Bahamas, Barbuda, Guadeloupe, Turks and Caicos, the Eastern United States and more. Hurricane Maria, another Category 5 hurricane, struck just two weeks after Irma, killing a staggering 3,057 people and causing more than $91 billion in damage, making it the third-costliest Atlantic hurricane in history. Hurricane Maria was noted as the worst natural disaster on record to affect Dominica and Puerto Rico and while the immediate ferocity of these back-to-back Category 5 hurricanes has passed, hundreds of thousands of people in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and other affected areas are still suffering the consequences of Hurricanes Irma and Maria: from destroyed homes and lost possessions to demolished commercial buildings and crippled businesses.

Denied, Delayed or Underpaid Insurance Claims

Most homeowners and business owners diligently pay their insurance companies a monthly or annual premium with the expectation that, should a natural disaster cause damage to their home or business, they will be covered. Sadly, in the months that followed Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma, residential and commercial property owners with legitimate claims were treated, and continue to be treated, unfairly by their insurance providers, who are doing everything in their power to minimize their financial losses. In February, the Office of the Commissioner of Puerto Rico (OCI) levied more than $2.4 million in fines against six insurers in Puerto Rico for substantial delays in the resolution of insurance claims, after confirming more than 3,000 violations of the Puerto Rico Insurance Code. Said Insurance Commissioner Javier Rivera at that time, “The existence of unresolved claims more than 120 days since they were filed is an untenable practice that our office will not allow to occur.” Still, residential and commercial property owners continue to have their insurance claims denied, delayed or deliberately underpaid.

Residential Insurance Claims

Residential property damage claims resulting from a catastrophic event like a hurricane may include water damage, wind damage, flood damage, structural damage or any other catastrophic destruction. In Puerto Rico, where Hurricane Maria made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane with sustained wind speeds around 155 mph, gusts of 175-195 mph, and, in some areas, up to 38 inches of rain, the damage will affect residents for many years to come. The storm tore through the island, ripping the roofs off homes, destroying entire communities and displacing thousands of families, leaving many without the basic essentials or a safe place to stay. Altogether, the entire island suffered more than $90 billion in damages in Hurricane Maria and now these victims are having their residential insurance claims denied, delayed or underpaid, preventing them from restoring their homes and returning to some semblance of normal life. Residential insurance claims for damage resulting from Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria can include compensation for:

  • Internal damage to your home
  • External damage to your home
  • Damage to trees on your property
  • Loss of personal property
  • Expenses incurred during evacuation and home repair
  • Costs of living away from home

Business Insurance Claims

Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria crippled the island of Puerto Rico’s already tenuous economy and as a result of these storms, business owners in Puerto Rico are still struggling to get back on their feet today. The prolonged business interruption resulting from Hurricanes Irma and Maria alone is enormous and has cost small and large businesses dearly. As of February 2018, nearly half of all small businesses in Puerto Rico were still operating under reduced work hours and thousands of them were still closed, resulting in a significant loss of revenue. Yet, some private-sector employers were required to continue paying certain employees their regular weekly salary, despite that significant loss of revenue. Business insurance claims can include payments to cover the following financial losses:

  • Damage to your home office or business property
  • Loss of inventory and stock
  • Loss of livestock and crops
  • Loss of profits
  • Business interruption
  • Loss of revenue
  • Financial obligations to employees

Lawsuits Against for Denied, Delayed and Underpaid Claims

In the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria and the destruction the storms brought on the people of Puerto Rico and other affected areas, it is likely that homeowners and business owners will begin to file insurance bad faith lawsuits against the insurance companies that refuse to pay their legitimate claims. For more information about filing an insurance bad faith lawsuit for a denied, delayed or underpaid residential or commercial property claim, contact a knowledgeable attorney with experience handling denied claims, claim value disputes, building estimates, business interruption value and other aspects of insurance law.

Why We Think Insurance Companies Should Be Held Liable for Denied Claims

Far too often, insurance companies put their bottom line before the losses sustained by their policyholders, which has proven to be devastating for the people affected by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. Lawsuits brought against insurance companies over denied, delayed or underpaid Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria claims will likely accuse insurers of:

  • Deliberately denying or underpaying legitimate residential or commercial property insurance claims
  • Using obscure clauses in contracts to get out of paying property claims
  • Delaying insurance claims in hopes policyholders will simply give up
  • Refusing to make a reasonable settlement offer
  • Failing to conduct an adequate investigation and adjustment

What should you do? If you have had your residential or business insurance claim denied, delayed or underpaid, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss filing an insurance bad faith lawsuit.

You’ve signed a contract with your insurance company and you are up to date on your premiums, and now you’ve suffered a qualifying loss, but your insurance company has failed to follow through on its duty to pay your claim. Residential and commercial insurance claim disputes can be complicated and confusing and it’s easy to feel like you’re in over your head when dealing with a wrongfully denied, delayed or underpaid claim. Our consumer advocates at Consumer Justice Foundation know how important it is for homeowners and commercial property owners to have their claims paid in a timely manner following a catastrophic event so they can move on with their lives, and we can help put you in touch with a knowledgeable insurance bad faith attorney who can help you pursue the maximum payment for your Hurricane Maria or Hurricane Irma property damage claims.

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