Hurricane Ian and its aftermath are wreaking havoc in the Caribbean and Florida. While the situation is developing rapidly, Ian has moved through Florida after initially making U.S. landfall as one of southwest Florida’s most intense hurricanes in history. It produced catastrophic storm surge exceeding 10 feet in certain locations, destructive winds packing maximum sustained winds of more than 140 mph and relentless rainfall.
The economic impact of the storm will be felt by businesses and individuals across Florida and the southeastern United States for some time. Many businesses have and will continue to suffer direct damage to property and lose income due to the resulting interruption of their operations, but many other businesses are also likely to lose substantial income due to evacuation orders, disruption of utility service and disruption of the operations of key suppliers or customers. Florida is home to many businesses in the real estate, retail, hospitality, senior living, distribution and entertainment sectors that may face significant exposures to their operations.
Businesses should examine their insurance policies closely and not indiscriminately accept coverage denials premised on flood exclusions, or other excluded perils.
Like the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season before it, the 2018 season brought devastating storms to the United States. A prime example: One of the most powerful hurricanes on record to hit Florida’s Panhandle wreaked havoc in October 2018 and left a trail of devastation in its wake as it weakened to tropical storm status but still brought large-scale destruction to southeastern states.
Hurricane Michael made landfall on October 10 approximately 20 miles southeast of Panama City, Florida, with biblical 155 mph sustained winds, violent waves, and heavy rain. The extent of the damage in Florida is still being evaluated, but it is extensive to the naked eye. Two hospitals were evacuated. Many homes were destroyed, power lines were downed, cars and trucks overturned and destroyed.
It took weeks before roads were cleared and electricity was fully restored. Even once businesses reopened, the storm’s destruction prevented employees from traveling to work. In addition, municipalities reported decreased tax revenues from business closures. The economic impact of storm-related losses for businesses and municipalities combined will be significant. Continue reading “Insurance Coverage for Hurricanes: Insurers May Dispute “Causation””
On December 1, the Florida Supreme Court held that in the first party context where concurrent perils result in a loss, the concurrent cause doctrine applies to determine coverage.
Background: The case in front of the Florida Supreme Court involved two parties: homeowner John Sebo, who purchased his Naples home in 2005, and his insurer, American Home Assurance Co., or AHAC. The applicable insurance policy insured against “all risks” and provided additional coverage for the loss of use of Sebo’s home. Continue reading “Concurrent Cause Doctrine: The Most Efficient Approach?”