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Tropical Storm Isaac May Become Hurricane That Threatens Florida

Weather forecasters from the National Hurricane Center in Miami have issued a Hurricane watch alert for Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and the South coast of the Dominican Republic due to the projected path of Isaac, which is still a tropical storm with sustained 45 mph winds, but one that most meteorologists expect to strengthen into a hurricane within the next 24 to 48 hours.

May Affect GOP National Convention In Tampa

Press reports show concern over the potential of (by then) hurricane Isaac hitting Tampa in the West coast of Florida and disrupting the Republican Party National Convention. Some computer models from the National Hurricane Center predict that Isaac may hit South Florida, including the Tampa Bay area, during the time for which the convention is scheduled. Despite these being very early, long-range storm track predictions (which are usually highly inaccurate), organizers of the event have prepared for the all scenarios, including the city being hit by a category 3 hurricane (sustained winds of at least 111 mph) during the second day of the convention that runs Monday thru Thursday. Only in that worst case scenario, would planners cancel the convention.

Hurricane Andrew Anniversary

Coincidentally, the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew is in two days: August 24, 1992. After destroying large parts of South Florida, Andrew is the second costliest natural disaster in United States history (after Hurricane Katrina) with insurance claims payout totaling $15.5 billion at the time ($25 billion in 2011 dollars).

My concern, however, is not for how a potential Hurricane Isaac would affect the GOP convention in Tampa. My concern is for how it may affect homeowners wherever it hits…As posted in a recent article, the increasingly high rates of premiums and deductibles for homeowner’s insurance have forced many elderly homeowners (who typically own their property) to forego buying insurance altogether. Given the current state of the economy and the fact that these elderly homeowners live off fixed incomes that barely suffice to cover their daily expenses, a destructive storm is the last thing they need…

The continuously changing state of the homeowner’s insurance market in Florida is a direct result of Hurricane Andrew’s legacy. The elderly homeowners that today forego buying insurance to protect their properties are direct victims of Andrew: in 1992, the property/casualty market in Florida was 6 percent domestic carriers and 94 percent foreign (meaning those based outside the state), specifically national insurance companies. Twenty years ago, there was no Citizens Property Insurance Corp. There was only the Florida Windstorm Underwriting Association (FWUA), which insured beachfront property.

By the end of 1992, the FWUA had less than 62,000 policies and its exposure to losses estimated at $7.4 billion. However, Andrew caused many private insurers to run for cover and leave Florida. Five years later, in response to the vacuum left by most private insurers leaving the state, the Florida Residential Property and Casualty Joint Underwriting Association (FRPCJUA) was formed. It had 487,590 policies that together with the 417,342 policies already under the FWUA had a combined exposure of more than $136 billion. Subsequently, in 2002, Citizens Property Insurance Corp., was formed with the merger of the FWUA and FRPCJUA. As of June of 2012, Citizens had more than 1.4 million policies in force with nearly $500 billion in exposure to risk. And therein lies the problem: Citizens has grown too much and has become too large a financial risk…

Therefore, in the last few years we have seen a concerted effort (backed by Governor Rick Scott) to push as many homeowners as possible away from under the Citizens’ umbrella and into the private insurance World. This push is characterized by a continuous increase of premium rates and deductibles to a point where many simply cannot afford it and hopefully find something more acceptable within the private insurance market. The problem is that the private insurance market is not much cheaper, a situation that leaves those with less resources (i.e., the elderly) with only one choice: live without insurance. Hardly the peace of mind one expects to have after a lifetime of hard work and uncertainty…

The Lawyers of Greenberg Stone and Urbano Can Help

You should always have an attorney help you review your policy and advise you on what coverage you should have and for how much. If you are about to renew your policy (with the same insurer or a new one), we can help you review it and make sure you are adequately covered and in a position to avoid costly expenses should disaster strike.

With more than 67 years of combined experience, the Miami Dade County Homeowners Insurance Claims Law Offices of Greenberg Stone and Urbano have helped thousands of Homeowners all over Florida review their policies, present their claims and get the compensation owed them by their insurance carrier.

Visit our website to learn more about our firm and contact us today for a free consultation.

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