Companies ceased writing new policies as hurricane approached

As Hurricane Michael approached the state of Florida, insurers of homeowners stopped writing new policies. The last company to suspend policy writing was Citizens Property Insurance on Oct. 8. The company has around 443,000 customers.

According to the company's website, when the National Weather Service issues a hurricane or tropical storm watch or warning for anywhere in the state of Florida, the company must cease its policy writing. This only affected new applicants and not people who already had existing insurance. This is often people who are trying to get a mortgage that includes a condition that they must have an insurance policy. A spokesman for the company said that as soon as the watch or warning was over, the company would resume writing new policies.

Trip to ice cream store leads to DUI charges

A 23-year-old Florida man is likely regretting his decision to go out for some ice cream on the evening of Oct. 7. The Collier County resident has been charged with driving while under the influence, fraud and assaulting an emergency services worker. He is scheduled to appear in court to answer to the charges at the end of October.

Workers at a Bonita Springs ice cream store said that they called the police when the man pulled up in a badly damaged Nissan Maxima and began acting strangely. They say that debris was falling off the sedan and its two front tires were flat. They also say that they smelled alcohol on the man when he came into the store to purchase ice cream. Deputies from the Collier County Sheriff's Office say the man fled the scene on foot when they arrived. However, the deputies allegedly discovered the man a short time later sitting in some nearby woods eating the ice cream he had just purchased.

Irma relief funds now available to Florida residents

Federal disaster relief funds are now being made available to low-income residents in areas badly hit by Hurricane Irma. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity made the announcement in a Sept. 24 press release. The department also said that its Rebuild Florida center in Marathon is already helping eligible Floridians to register for the program online. The FDEO says that it plans to open several such centers in areas ravaged by the Category 4 storm.

When Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and Florida Governor Rick Scott announced the program in June, they said that applications from communities hit especially hard by Hurricane Irma would be prioritized. The program's goal is to help low-income Floridians to repair their homes. The FDEO announcement comes more than a year after Irma struck Florida with wind speeds of more than 150 mph. A department representative said that the delay was necessary to ensure that other forms of financial relief, such as other federal programs or private insurance payouts, have been exhausted.

Jayson Werth charged with DUI

Florida residents may know who Jayson Werth is from his time in Major League Baseball. In September, he agreed to a plea deal stemming from an April traffic stop in Scottsdale, Arizona. Werth was originally stopped because the car he was driving had an expired registration. At the time of the stop, he claimed that he didn't have a registration because the car was borrowed.

While talking to Werth, the officer believed that he was intoxicated. However, when the officer asked him to step out of the car, he refused to do so until a lawyer was present. Werth explained that he didn't trust police officers and wasn't sure that the officer who stopped him truly had his best interests in mind. Furthermore, he refused to take any sort of alcohol test at the scene. After refusing to take the test, a video of the incident stopped recording.

Watch out for storm chasers

Storm chasers are people who go to a city that has recently suffered damage from a hurricane or another natural disaster and promise to repair buildings at a fraction of the cost. Some of these storm chasers seek to genuinely do good deeds, such as one man who recently ventured into North Carolina to help people impacted by Hurricane Florence. However, there are plenty of storm chasers just looking to make a quick buck while doing shoddy work. 

When your house has sustained damage after a big storm, you need to go through your insurance company every time. Even though there may be hassles along the way, it is preferable to dealing with storm chasers. If you have been a victim of a natural disaster, follow these steps to protect yourself: 

What is insurance bad faith?

Your home received significant water damage after the rainy season, so you do what any Florida resident would do – you make a claim with your insurance company and wait for the approval to go through so you can begin repairs. However, things do not exactly go according to plan, and weeks later you are still waiting for your insurance money. You may be the unwitting recipient of an insurance bad faith incident.

Like any competitive corporation, insurance companies are in the business of making money. They exist to compensate their customers for damage, but if insurers paid out too much in claims, they would lose money. Naturally, there would be an investigation and approval process for most incidents before you would see any compensation. It is also normal to wait several weeks before your claim is approved, and your insurer may even attempt to deny a claim. However, you should not have to wait unreasonably long before getting money on a valid claim, and your insurer should not deny a claim that’s rightfully covered under your policy. These are common examples of bad faith tactics.

Water damage isn't always covered by insurance

While a hurricane making landfall in Florida is not uncommon, it is far from the only state that experiences flooding from a significant storm. Hurricane Florence caused as much as $30 billion in flood damage, but homeowners may not necessarily be reimbursed for damage caused to their homes. This is because standard homeowners policies do not cover flood damage. Instead, those who own a home must purchase a separate policy to cover flooding.

According to CoreLogic, about 85 percent of the cost of flood and wind damage caused by Florence will not be covered by insurance. Furthermore, it was estimated that only 10 percent of homes in North Carolina were protected in case damage was caused by flood water. Those who had flood insurance may still be liable for paying any deductible that came with the policy. Generally speaking, the deductible is a percentage of the home's market value when the storm hits.

NFL player charged with drunk driving

Florida fans of the Los Angeles Rams may be surprised to learn that, after their 34-0 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sept. 16, their practice squad center was arrested and charged with DUI. Aaron Neary, 25, was arrested by police in Simi Valley, California, on theevening following the game, which he watched from the sidelines with fellow team members on the practice squad. At around 6:27 p.m., Simi Valley police began receiving calls and reports on its emergency line about an erratic driver in the area. Reportedly, callers said that it appeared that the driver may be operating his vehicle under the influence.

The vehicle had crashed into several fixed objects in the area, including trash cans, mailboxes and the sign designating a bus stop near Sinaloa Road and Royal Avenue. After the accidents, the car kept going down the road. Eventually, local police pulled over the vehicle on El Monte Drive near El Lado Drive, finding Neary behind the wheel. After stopping Neary, police administered a breath test to the athlete.

Hurricane damage may not be covered by insurance

Life in Florida or any other area graced with great natural beauty comes with obvious costs. Property values are high and continue to rise, and the cost of living, including homeowners insurance premiums, follow that pattern. Most people hope to never have to file a claim with their insurer, but if they do, they fully expect to be covered for their losses. Unfortunately, many homeowners find out only after the fact what their policy actually covers.

To be fair, not many people read their entire policy, but it is important to understand what the policy's basic coverage is and what is not covered or excluded. Most of the information regarding coverage is found on the declarations page of the policy. Specific provisions that may affect the policy due to the property location or local conditions may be referred to as endorsements.

Home improvements could help with insurance premiums

Many things can have significant financial implications for homeowners. One is the level of their premiums for their homeowners’ insurance. So, reducing the amount of these premiums is something individuals may care about considerably.

There are a range of measures that could help with bringing such premiums down. This includes making certain improvements to one’s home, as insurers sometimes offer rate discounts for this. This is because home improvements can sometimes help prevent damaging events or leave homes in a better position to weather them. 

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