Not filing a business insurance claim may be wise

Many Florida small business owners have a lot invested in their enterprises. Even when it's not mandated by contractual obligations, such as in commercial property leases, it simply makes sense to stay protected against certain risks by carrying business insurance. They say that insurance may be the only product both seller and buyer hope never to use. If a loss occurs, however, it seems logical for the business owner to file a claim and receive a compensatory payout. Under some circumstances, that may not be true.

Before deciding to file a claim, it's important to look at the language of the relevant policy. Start with what is covered and what is excluded. Specific issues to consider include deductibles that may apply to the type of loss, losses that are not covered under any circumstances and losses that may be covered contingent on some duty of the policyholder, such as regular maintenance or service.

Florida man facing DUI charges after cemetary accident

Police in Florida say that a 29-year-old man was drunk when he lost control of his pickup truck in St. Johns County during the early morning hours of Jan. 30. Two pedestrians suffered what media reports described as serious injuries in the ensuing accident. The man's truck also allegedly caused damage to a historic cemetery that a nonprofit group says will cost at least $10,000 to repair. He faces multiple drunk driving charges and is being held at the St. Johns County Jail on a $56,000 bond.

According to a St. Augustine Police Department report, the man's truck struck the two pedestrians as it was exiting the Tolomato Cemetery parking lot at about 1 a.m. A helicopter was called in to transport a woman to an Orange Park trauma center who had suffered several injuries including two broken legs. A man was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital with a leg wound, but he was also airlifted to Orange Park Medical Center when doctors discovered a neck injury.

A home insurance claim denial can be challenged

There are many sayings about insurance that although humorous, have some basis in truth. Two of the wittiest are, 'It is the only product that both the seller and buyer hope is never actually used," and 'Education is what you get from reading the fine print; experience is what you get from not reading it." The bottom line is that when a Florida homeowner files a claim for some loss associated with his or her home, there is an expectation the claim will be handled expeditiously and payment will be forthcoming. Often, however, this is not the reality.

Most homeowner claims are based on either some damage that occurred to the home or an injury sustained by someone other than one of the residents of the home. The first step a homeowner should take when a loss occurs, if not done before the incident, is to read the policy. Insurance experts report the primary basis for denial of home insurance claims is that the loss is simply not covered by the policy. A second common reason is the homeowner failed to meet a required condition for the coverage to apply.

Federal government boosts hurricane damage reimbursement

Many homeowners in Florida hope that a positive announcement about federal funding for hurricane damage may soon be followed by action from their own insurance companies. Hurricane Michael hit the state hard on Oct. 10, 2018, causing billions of dollars in damage to agricultural enterprises, businesses, public facilities and homes. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that, following a meeting with President Trump, the federal government had extended an offer for full reimbursement of hurricane cleanup costs in Panhandle communities.

Earlier, the eastern Panhandle area of the state had been directed to select 5 days of cleanup for 100 percent cost reimbursement from the federal government. However, following the meeting, this offer was extended to cover 45 days. The governor made the announcement in front of a building that continues to show the damaging effects of the hurricane, the Jackson County Road Department facility torn apart by the massive storm. State officials project that the announcement could lead to hundreds of millions of dollars in cost savings to state and local governments.

Basics of business interruption insurance

Part of protecting your business is getting the right insurance coverage. At the least, you have general liability and workers' compensation. Others you may have purchased include commercial auto, professional liability and property insurance.

With all the natural disasters that happen in Florida, a vital area to add to your policy is business interruption. It is important to understand how this type of insurance works and ensure you have enough coverage before damage occurs.

4 ways to get a faster insurance payout

Like most of your neighbors, you work hard for the things you have in life. To protect your assets, you have insurance. You also regularly pay your premiums to ensure your coverage does not lapse. After a natural disaster, though, your insurance provider may be slow to review and pay your claim. 

When you are trying to put your life back together, every dollar counts. If you have to wait for weeks or months to receive a check from your insurer, your already bad situation may become downright terrible. While all insurers review claims in their own way, there are some things you can do to ensure you receive prompt payment. Here are four of them: 

Football player taken into custody for drunk driving

Florida residents may still be buzzing about the NFC Championship game between the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams. However, a Saints player is in the news after being taken into custody for drunk driving at about 1:10 a.m. on Jan. 23. The Saints cornerback was released from custody about three hours later after posting a bond.

There were no details given as to why police suspected he was under the influence or alcohol or what his blood alcohol content was at the time of the incident. This was not the first time that the player had been in trouble with the law. In 2015, he was also taken into custody for drunk driving, but the charge was later dropped. He was given traffic tickets in 2014 after fleeing the scene of an accident. This occurred while the player was at Florida State.

State looking for help with hurricane cleanup

The Florida Division of Emergency Management has been ordered by the state's governor to get money quickly to areas impacted by Hurricane Michael. The governor also said that he was going to push federal officials to further reimburse the state for costs related to cleanup efforts. The federal government is expected to reimburse about 75 percent of those costs. However, Florida's governor is going to ask that this figure be increased to 90 percent.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator, the government shutdown was not expected to hinder relief efforts.He also said that the recovery effort should be expected to take years instead of months. However, the FEMA representative did say that progress had been made. It is estimated that the storm caused about 20 million cubic tons of debris when it went through Mexico Beach.

Claims due to Hurricane Michael

Having been hit by Hurricane Michael, the state of Florida is still reeling from the aftermath of this devastating tragedy. The county hit the hardest was Bay County, which has filed 81,736 claims as of Jan. 4, 2019, causing the state's total losses to reach $4.88 billion. These numbers mark an increase in the county's reporting of the damage: In the previous month, the number of claims was 79,178 with a state total of $4.3 billion.

Michael caused plenty of damage in the Panhandle; areas such as Panama City and Mexico Beach were hit harder others. In total, the hurricane was responsible for 136,873 claims. Fortunately, many of these claims have been dealt with. As of 4 Jan., 46,747 of Bay County's claims were closed, and the same goes for around 71 percent of all claims in Florida.

The aftermath of Hurricane Michael

Having hit Florida, Hurricane Michael has caused damages worth 10$ billion to $12 billion according to insurance analysts. That being said, there have been around 137,000 insurance claims filed so far, totaling $5 billion, $1.5 billion of which was for agricultural land. This is not to mention the human cost, which includes the death of 43 individuals and the evacuation of 375,000 others. As a result, the state of Florida has a long way to go in order to recover from this catastrophe.

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Of the $1.5 billion loss that agricultural lands suffered, cattle farmers lost $43.31 million, peanuts farmers lost $23 million, and vegetable farmers lost $8.61 million. However, with a loss of $1.3 billion and the devastation of 350,000 acres of land, the timber industry has lost the most. What's more, the decimation of the timber industry has left the forests riddled with dead wood, making them more susceptible to spring wildfires. Ergo, timber operators believe that this debris must be removed as soon as possible so as to avoid any further catastrophes.

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