Gordon & Rees’ Hurricane Ian Team Offers Unique Services for Insurers
By Matthew Foy, Robin Taylor Symons, Kristina Marsh and Jacqueline De Leon on October 20, 2022
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Gordon & Rees’ team of experienced lawyers are here to help insurers address and meet the claims handling challenges resulting from Hurricane Ian. With offices in Tampa and Miami and attorneys throughout the state, our lawyers have assisted clients with the unique issues presented by other catastrophes, including Hurricane Andrew, Hurricane Charley, Hurricane Irma, and Hurricane Michael.
Our team has the experience and resources necessary to provide your claims department and individual claims professionals with the support necessary to manage a catastrophic claims volume promptly, efficiently, and effectively, while navigating the legal issues and changing regulatory environment resulting from Hurricane Ian. The experience and services offered by Gordon & Rees’ Hurricane Ian Team include:
- Catastrophe Claims Handling Assistance: We support insurers and facilitate the prompt and efficient handling of the high volume of claims that result from disasters like Hurricane Ian. We can work with your team to develop catastrophe protocols, claims prioritization, investigation checklists and guidelines, and templates for reservation of rights letters and protocols to ensure the orderly and prompt payment of claims. We can coordinate loss inspections and investigations, take examinations under oath, assist with fraud detection, and quickly provide legal opinions on coverage issues as they arise.
- Claims Handling Statutes and Regulations: Compliance with unfair claims handling statutes, regulations, and executive orders present challenges for insurers due to abbreviated response requirements for a high volume of multijurisdictional claims. Insurers that do not implement procedures to ensure compliance with claims handling statutes and insurance regulations may face extra-contractual exposure. Gordon & Rees lawyers can assist with the interpretation of and compliance with applicable statutes and regulations.
- Litigation Coordination: We work with insurers to develop and create action plans for post-hurricane litigation to improve outcomes, create uniformity, and ensure cost efficiency for hurricane litigation operations. To that end, we assist insurers in monitoring performance and offering oversight and guidance of the hurricane litigation process to ensure that efficiencies and optimizations of action plans are being realized. In addition, we develop coverage strategies and dispositive motions for the application of policy exclusions and endorsements as they relate to preexisting damage and other non-covered perils and develop consistent defense litigation strategies by working closely with insurers and their defense counsel to determine overall strategy and effectiveness in pre-trial, trial, and appellate matters. We are currently working with several clients and forensic meteorologists to carefully analyze the most up-to-date meteorological data to ensure the most accurate assessment of wind versus water and to evaluate the chronology of various perils based on specific loss locations.
- Alternative Dispute Resolution: Gordon & Rees’ Hurricane Ian Team is experienced in various alternative dispute resolution methods. In addition, members of our team are also Florida Circuit Civil Mediators certified by the Supreme Court of Florida and experienced in mediating and arbitrating a broad range of civil disputes, including Insurance Coverage Disputes, Forced Placed Insurance, Priority of Coverage, and Bad Faith disputes. Our experience both litigating and mediating provides us with a heightened appreciation of the expense and risk of litigation and we work closely with our insurance clients and can assist with Hurricane Ian claim disputes to find prompt and efficient resolution of claims through appropriate alternative dispute resolution processes to achieve an early resolution and minimize expense, where possible.
- Appellate Experience and Trial Consulting: Gordon & Rees’ Hurricane Ian Team has several experienced appellate attorneys who are skilled in identifying potential appellate issues arising out of Hurricane Ian. Our attorneys work with insurers pre-suit to address potential disputes that might raise appellate issues as well as issues of first impression. We frequently represent insurers in cases involving cutting-edge areas where the case law is still developing, and where the result is likely to have portfolio-level implications for our clients. Our in-depth knowledge of the insurance industry, gained from decades of experience, provides us with the unique ability to understand and meet our clients’ needs and goals. In addition to direct representation of parties to an appeal, we have filed amicus briefs on behalf of insurance industry organizations regarding issues of special importance to the industry. Our appellate counsel has substantial experience attending trial to preserve issues for appeal and will provide candid and objective advice to clients on the important initial question of whether to pursue an appeal or writ petition.
- Business Interruption Claims: Business interruption claims present significant exposure to insurers. Business interruption insurance typically applies when the interruption results from direct physical loss of or damage to covered property as a result of a covered peril. First-party property policies may include civil authority and ingress/egress provisions that implicate coverage otherwise excluded. We can help you interpret policy language and exclusions pertinent to business interruption claims and provide practical advice and solutions to resolve these claims. Our attorneys have litigated business interruption issues throughout the United States, including claims that resulted from the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Charley, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Irma, and Hurricane Michael.
- Contingent Business Interruption Claims: Many first-party property policies provide coverage for contingent business interruption losses caused by physical loss of or damage to the property of the insured’s suppliers or customers as a result of a covered peril. Under these provisions, insureds throughout the country, or around the world, may seek coverage for contingent interruption losses due to suppliers or customers affected by Hurricane Ian. Our team can help you navigate the unique legal issues that result from these claims.
- Flood Versus Wind/Rain Causation: Disputes over the cause of property damage or loss resulting from a hurricane are inevitable. First-party property policies often cover damage resulting from wind and wind-driven rain, but exclude or limit coverage for damage resulting from flood water. Hurricane Ian produced high winds and extensive flooding. The resulting property damage will lead to coverage disputes over the cause of the damage. Our attorneys can provide advice on the investigation and determination of coverage and, when necessary, litigate wind versus flood causation disputes.
- Extra Expense Coverage: First-party property policies typically provide coverage for costs incurred by an insured to prevent, limit or mitigate future damages by minimizing the disruption of operations. Gordon & Rees’ Hurricane Ian Team has experience analyzing the policy language and factual circumstances to determine whether costs incurred by insureds qualify for extra expense coverage.
- Additional Living Expenses: Additional Living Expense (“ALE”) claims by homeowners are expected to be significant given the widespread geographic storm surge resulting from Hurricane Ian. Gordon & Rees lawyers have managed and, when necessary, litigated ALE claims following hurricanes over the past 20 years.
- Errors and Omissions Claims: As with other catastrophes, uninsured or underinsured storm victims may assert errors and omissions claims against their insurance agents or brokers. Our experienced insurance attorneys can assess coverage under professional liability policies in response to these claims, and Gordon & Rees’ professional liability defense team also can defend these claims throughout the region.
Retaining insurance counsel to address Hurricane Ian insurance coverage issues can help insurers manage their risk and mitigate their losses, while providing prompt and fair claims management to insureds. With more than 200 years of experience in Florida, collectively, and more than 1,000 attorneys throughout the country, Gordon & Rees is uniquely positioned to help you meet the challenges presented by Hurricane Ian.