Berger Singerman’s annual hurricane survey also indicates many business owners prioritize continuity, but lack the coverage to maintain their operations following a storm
Forecasters predict 2020’s hurricane season will have above-normal activity, meaning Floridians who are still recovering from the economic impact of COVID-19 may face a summer like no other. This dire scenario could be disastrous for many of the state’s business owners who are not prepared for a major tropical storm amidst the coronavirus, according to a new survey released today by Berger Singerman.
With many business owners eager to keep their doors open following pandemic shutdowns, it’s no surprise that over 50% of survey respondents chose to maintain operations as their top hurricane season priority. Yet, more than 50% of them also shared their insurance policy does not cover losses from business interruption, and an additional 30% did not know if they have that coverage.
“Losses from business interruption can snowball after a hurricane, leading to costs exceeding incidents that owners are more commonly insured against, like property damage,” said Gina Clausen Lozier, partner at Berger Singerman and a leader of the firm’s insurance practice. “When factored against the pandemic’s financial burdens, having no policy protections against further disruptions could be catastrophic for some businesses and their employees.”
A significant number of respondents were not aware of their hurricane coverage in general. When asked if they understood their policies, the top response was that they did not.
Another concern revealed by the survey relates to a storm from years ago – Hurricane Irma. Nearly 75% of respondents indicated they were not aware of the approaching September 10, 2020 deadline to claim losses from Irma. That three-year window is a requirement of Florida Statute §627.70132, enacted in 2011.
However, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation’s (FLOIR) latest data reveals that even years later, thousands of claims from the 2017 storm are being made; over 60,000 were submitted since the organization’s prior report.
“Irma will be a significant test for the three-year provision of Florida’s windstorm statute and the numbers show there’s room for improvement,” said Clausen Lozier. “With claims still climbing and our survey indicating many are unaware of the deadline, state lawmakers should consider giving residents and business owners more time, especially during the pandemic.”
Berger Singerman submitted a letter on behalf of policy holders to Florida’s Chief Financial Officer with Florida Department of Financial Services (FLDFS) requesting a deadline extension.
The firm’s second annual hurricane insurance survey polled over 2,000 business owners in Florida during the month of June.
To help educate businesses across the state about their insurance policies and properly prepare for storm season, Berger Singerman’s website has numerous resources including seminars, articles and blogs with key tips for owners and employees. The featured topics include:
- An examination of the percentage of businesses who do not understand relevant insurance coverage
- A behind the scenes look at how a public adjuster’s claims impact litigation
- Interviews with insurance industry experts regarding various topics affecting the industry
- An alert regarding upcoming deadlines to submit damages related to Hurricane Irma
Two of the firm’s insurance practice leaders, Gina Clausen Lozier and Michael J. Higer, who is also a former Florida Bar president, are recognized in the prestigious legal publication Chambers USA for their insurance work on behalf of policyholders. Additionally, Clausen Lozier currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Windstorm Insurance Network (WIND) and is significantly involved in the Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters and the National Association of Public Adjusters.
For more information on all the firm’s hurricane preparedness materials and services, please contact Gina Clausen Lozier at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Michael Higer at email@example.com.