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Hot Topics in Disability Insurance for 2019

Fri Apr 26th, 2019 on     Disability Insurance,    

As Miami Disability Insurance Lawyers, we stay up-to-date on trends in the area of Disability Benefits. Several topics that have been gaining attention include employee engagement,  automation, and marijuana.  Employers are grappling with these issues, all of which are likely to impact disability insurance benefits for employees.  From increasing awareness of mental and behavioral health to learning to embrace technology while still maintaining a human connection between employer and employee and understanding the interplay between state and federal laws on medical marijuana use in the workplace, the needs and concerns of employees are being heard and addressed in new ways, while employers reap the benefits of employee loyalty and commitment. Employee Engagement Increasing employee engagement and participation with group benefit programs is a hot button for many employers.  This is not surprising considering that employee benefits are often an employer’s second largest expense, after labor.  Employers are exploring ways to increase productivity, while generating loyalty and commitment.  Examples include on-site day care, financial wellness, and other initiatives to help employees focus on work and reduce stress.  Incorporating systems and strategies for addressing employee mental health and well-being is emerging as a key component of employee engagement.    Automation New technologies are poised to radically change areas of labor, including disability programs. At the same time, however, employers and employees are concerned about losing a sense of human connection to the workplace.  Employers are responding by offering customized benefits, including enhanced disability programs, and introducing automated and digital technologies to the […]

Understanding Homeowners’ Insurance in Florida

Fri Apr 19th, 2019 on     Property Insurance,    

Floridians are well aware of the importance of homeowners’ insurance.  Planning ahead for the possibility of hurricanes, windstorms, sinkholes and other disasters, as well as individual losses such as home invasions or fires, can bring peace of mind and help minimize the disruption to your personal and professional lives. As Miami property insurance lawyers, we are experienced in assisting homeowners in maximizing their recovery following a loss.  The first step to a successful outcome for your claim is understanding what is covered under your policy and how the claims process works. What Does My Policy Cover? Generally, a homeowners’ insurance policy provides coverage against specific perils or events that cause damage to the property (such as fire, windstorm, theft) or the following: Structure (the dwelling itself) Other structures (such as sheds and fences) Personal property (the contents of the structures) Loss of use (also known as “Additional Living Expense,” which may pay some extra expenses if damage to your home prevents you from living there during repairs) Personal liability (against a claim resulting from injury to others on your property) Medical payments to others (for persons accidentally injured at your home, not included residents of the home) Most homeowners’ insurance policies cover damage caused by windstorms, hurricanes and hail, unless you sign to waive the coverage.  Importantly, however, you cannot obtain new or additional coverage when a tropical storm or hurricane watch or warning has been issued for your area.  You shouldn’t wait until the last minute to purchase your […]

What You Need to Know About Cyber Insurance

Fri Apr 12th, 2019 on     Insurance Law,    

The potential impact of technology on the business of insurance cannot be overstated. Although “InsurTech” is relatively new, the sector has drawn significant attention from investors, as well as from established insurers, who are beginning to change their service models.  In response to changing consumer habits, especially for tech-savvy millennials, new innovations are emerging every day, with the goal of offering simpler products tailored to specific needs and a streamlined customer experience.  As Miami insurance law attorneys, we are following the InsurTech explosion with interest, both for its potential benefits to policyholders, as well as for the resulting industry disruption. What is InsurTech? The term “InsurTech” encompasses the innovative use of technology in insurance.  It is a subset of financial technology, or “FinTech,” which has transformed the banking world.  InsurTech is the technology that lies behind the creation, distribution and administration of insurance.  Smartphone apps, wearables, claims processing tools, online policy handling and automated processing are all InsurTech.  Much of the current InsurTech market involves start-ups targeting millennials, who are accustomed to instant gratification, by focusing on speed, efficiency, and cost reduction.  Examples include: Lemonade, whose motto is “instant everything,” Slice (“instant coverage for all”), and Hippo (“modern home insurance”). The success of these and other start-ups also relies on the demand for greater customization of insurance products, as well as the prevalence of the sharing economy.  For example, Airbnb hosts have created the need for limited commercial coverage, as opposed to a comprehensive commercial policy.  Pay-per-mile automobile insurance caters […]

What You Need to Know About Cyber Insurance

Fri Apr 5th, 2019 on     Insurance Law,    

It is impossible to turn on the news today without hearing about cyber security.  Data breaches and cyberattacks have become almost a constant threat.  As a Miami Insurance Law Firm, we have seen an increase in cyber liability.  And it is not just huge corporations that are targeted by cybercriminals.  Small businesses are also susceptible to events that can damage reputations and put customers and employees at risk.  One of a company’s most valuable assets is its data, and it is important to know that there are specific insurance products available that can not only provide the traditional risk transfer function but can also help your business identify cybersecurity gaps and opportunities for improvement. How is Cyber Liability Covered While many cyber liability claims are submitted under commercial general liability (CGL) policies, such claims can also trigger directors and officers (D&O), errors and omissions (E&O) and other policy types.  Typically, insurance companies argue that cyber liability, such as claims arising from data breaches involving sensitive customer information, is excluded from coverage under general liability policies.  Some insurers are adding cyber-specific exclusions to traditional insurance products.  Some courts have concluded that traditional polices do not cover cyber losses. Today, many insurance companies offer risk-specific cyber insurance policies designed to protect policyholders against data breaches and other cyber-related risks.  Roughly 30% of companies currently have some form of cyber insurance.  Coverage can protect against first party losses (direct losses to the policyholder) and third-party claims (policyholder liabilities to third parties).  First party […]

Recent Court Decisions Could Impact the Insurance Industry

Fri Mar 29th, 2019 on     Insurance Law,    

In two recent decisions, Florida’s highest court has issued significant rulings relating to insurance law.  In both cases, the Supreme Court reversed the decisions of the lower appellate court and upheld the decisions of the trial court, which were favorable to the policyholders.  As Miami insurance law attorneys, it is our job to stay up-to-date on important legal and regulatory developments in the industry, particularly those that may impact our insurance law practice. Court Supports Jury’s Finding of Bad Faith Against Insurer Harvey v. GEICO involved the application of the law of bad faith, which imposes a fiduciary obligation on an insurer to protect its insured from a judgment that exceeds the limits of the insured’s policy.  The case arose from a fatal car accident in which the insured driver had limited coverage ($100,000) under his liability policy.  GEICO resolved the liability issue against the insured and tendered the policy within days of the accident but failed to promptly cooperate with the request of the victim’s attorney for a statement from the driver concerning the extent of his assets.  The estate of the victim returned GEICO’s check and sued the driver for wrongful death, resulting in an $8 million verdict against the driver.  Mr. Harvey then brought a bad faith action against GEICO. During the bad faith trial, the lawyer for the estate testified that had he known that the driver’s only other asset was a business account worth approximately $85,000, he would not have filed suit and would have […]

Guide to Bad Faith Insurance Claims in Florida

Fri Mar 22nd, 2019 on     Bad Faith Insurance,    

If your insurance company has denied your claim or resolved it unsatisfactorily, you may be able to bring a bad faith claim against them in court.  Of course, not every denial constitutes bad faith. As Miami insurance claim lawyers, we are experienced in determining whether an insurer has handled a claim appropriately and in recognizing bad faith insurance practices.  For a policyholder, the first step is to educate yourself as to what your insurance company is obligated to do.  The law requires insurers to act in good faith and to engage in fair deals.  Specifically, they are obligated to: Recognize your claim; Investigate in a prompt manner; Respond quickly to your communications; Not slow down the progression with unnecessary forms; and Offer actual reasons for denial of your claim or delays in the process. There are Two Types of Bad Faith Claims A “first-party” bad faith claim arises when an insurance company unreasonably refuses to pay a claim or to properly investigate a claim.  A “third-party” bad faith claim is when an insurance company unreasonably fails to defend, indemnify or settle a claim within policy limits or to investigate a claim for a different-party, such as when the insured (the first party, you) buys insurance from the insurance company to protect against claims from another (the third party).  Florida Law on Bad Faith Claims The good news for bad faith claimants in Florida is that the law is quite clear.  The statute provides that “any person may bring a civil […]

What You Should Know About Sinkhole Coverage

Fri Mar 15th, 2019 on     Property Insurance,    

Florida has more sinkholes than any other state; thousands of sinkhole insurance claims are reported here every year.  Unfortunately, not all homeowners’ insurance policies provide coverage for damage to your home resulting from sinkholes.  Florida law, which defines a “sinkhole” as “a land form created by subsidence of soil, sediment or rock as underlying strata are dissolved by groundwater,” only requires insurance companies to cover “catastrophic ground cover collapse.”  What’s the difference between coverage for sinkholes and coverage for “catastrophic ground cover collapse?”  As Miami Property Insurance Lawyers, we have experience with both.  As for sinkhole coverage, while all insurance companies licensed in Florida must offer it, the coverage is usually an endorsement to an existing policy and costs an additional premium.  Moreover, insurance companies may require a property inspection before extending coverage, and if sinkhole activity is present on the property, or even within a certain distance of the property, the insurer may refuse to provide sinkhole coverage. If you do not purchase sinkhole coverage, or it is declined, the only coverage you have is for “catastrophic ground coverage collapse.”  Importantly, four conditions have to be met before this coverage kicks in.  They are: Abrupt collapse of the ground cover A depression in the ground cover clearly visible to the naked eye Structural damage to the building including the foundation; and The insured structure is being condemned and ordered to be vacated by the applicable government agency. All four of these criteria are necessary for coverage.  If, for example, […]

How To Communicate With Your Insurance Company

Fri Mar 8th, 2019 on     Insurance Law,    

Communicating with your insurance company can be challenging, particularly if you are in the middle of a crisis and need to report a claim.  Your emotions may be running high and you may not remember everything that is said in your initial conversation with the adjuster. What is more, you may say things about your claim in the heat of the moment that may be inaccurate or uninformed, as you may not have received any damage estimates.  Keep in mind that your calls with your insurance company are most likely recorded, so you want to avoid coming across as too emotional or too eager to settle under the insurer’s terms.  As Miami insurance law attorneys, we know how insurance companies work.  From documenting all your communications, to having the right attitude, how you communicate with your insurance company can impact how your claim is resolved.  Document Your Communications The most important thing to remember is to document every communication with your insurance company in a notebook or folder so you can easily keep track of the status of your claim.  Start collecting receipts and damage estimates as well and keep all of your notes and documents together in one place.  You should also create a paper trial by confirming what your insurance company has said by sending them a quick follow-up e-mail or letter.  This helps to avoid any misunderstandings about representations or promises made, whether about timing of the claims process or more substantive discussions about damage estimates and […]

Homeowner Claims: Know Your Basic Rights

Thu Feb 28th, 2019 on     Insurance Law,    

You may not know it, but if you have a Florida homeowner insurance policy, you have certain rights, as defined by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.  The FLOIR Bill of Rights sets forth a timeline for the claims process, as well as certain services you are entitled to.  The Bill of Rights also contains useful advice for claimants.  As a Miami Insurance law firm dedicated to representing the interests of policyholders, we are familiar with the Bill of Rights and the protections it outlines.  When to Expect a Response From Your Insurance Company When you report a claim to your insurance company, you have a right to receive an acknowledgment of the claim within 14 days.  Within 30 days after you submit a complete proof-of-loss statement to your insurance company, you have a right, upon written request, to receive confirmation that your claim is covered in full, partially covered, or denied, or receive a written statement that your claim is being investigated. Within 90 days, you have a right to receive full settlement payment for your claim or payment of the undisputed portion of your claim, or your insurance company’s denial of your claim. The Bill of Rights does state that there are exceptions to the timelines when conditions are “beyond your insurance company’s control.” What Services are Available to Assist You With Your Claim? Under most circumstances and subject to certain restrictions, you are entitled to free mediation of your disputed claim by the Florida Department of Financial […]

What Types of Insurance Should My Small Business Have?

Thu Feb 21st, 2019 on     Insurance Law,    

There are many different types of insurance coverage available to small business owners.  Knowing what you need will depend on many factors, including the type of services or goods you provide, where your business is located, its corporate structure, and the applicable state laws.  As Miami Insurance Coverage Lawyers, we can help you navigate the many options, as well as evaluate whether your current coverage is adequate.  First, here’s a summary of the most common types of insurance for business owners.  General Liability Every business needs to have a liability insurance policy.  This policy, often referred to as The Commercial General Liability Policy (or “CGL”), provides coverage to a business for personal injury and property damage caused by the company’s operations or products, or personal injuries to third parties that occur on the company’s premises.  Many insurers use what is known as the standard Insurance Services Office CGL form.  Property If you own your office building or have business personal property, such as office equipment or computers, you should consider having a policy that will protect you in the event of fire or theft.  You may also want to consider including business interruption insurance to protect your earnings if the business is unable to operate because of property damage. Professional Liability This policy, also known as Errors and Omissions Insurance, provides defense and damages for failure to or improperly providing professional services.  This is different than your general liability policy.  Professional liability insurance applies to any professional firm, including lawyers, […]

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