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Disaster Recovery & Rebuilding

Hurricane Preparation and Claims Recovery Team Advises Residents, Business Owners, Association Management and Owners on Disaster Recovery Strategies
Powerful weather events such as hurricanes are dangerous reminders of the importance of proper planning, emergency preparedness, and the need to work with experienced professionals to properly recover losses and rebuild homes, businesses and communities.

Becker & Poliakoff’s dedicated Hurricane Preparation and Claims Recovery Team has handled thousands of storm-related claims, including dozens of hurricanes in Florida, New York and New Jersey. We bring a team approach, including our legal team led by the former National Coordinating Counsel for one of the largest insurance companies in the world, also brings board certified construction law experts, specific structural engineering experts, electrical/corrosion engineering experts, general contractor experts, estimators, adjusters, plumbing and other specific experts that know how to find damage and process claims. They are experts in what they do and our substantial experience tells us that to maximize recovery, you are best served by using a team that brings a wealth of experts to your rescue.

We treat your case like it is our own.
We shoulder the entire burden for you. We require no additional upfront fees from you. We offer to take the case on a “contingency” – which means that you pay nothing unless we win. We receive our fees only if we are successful in settlement or other enforcement/court award. We take the risk, we front the costs for all of the experts necessary to prove damages and for the attorney and staff time and office expenses necessary to pursue your claim to ultimate settlement or trial verdict.

Navigating Proofs of Loss and other Technical Insurance Requirements
The claims process can be technical and complicated, and the insurance company is not necessarily there to pay you the most money. We know how to cut through the delays and red tape associated with the insurance company. For example, it is not a defense for the insurance company to say that they are busy with all the claims. It is not a defense to say that you need to do all your own investigation. It is not a defense to delay in getting expert personnel out to fully investigate and pay your claims. It is not a defense to say your claim doesn’t need investigating. We will not allow the insurance company to get away with these types of responses. Rather, we ensure that the insurance company keeps the promise made to you.

Insurance claims vary in the types of damages you may recover. Depending upon your specific policy, you may be entitled to coverage for damages to your dwelling, including your roof, structure, walls, interior, plumbing, paint, furniture and personal property, as well as outside fencing or other structures, trees and shrubs, expenses for having to live in hotels or other places that require you to expend moneys. You may have coverage for many other items, such as loss of use of the premises, payment for moneys expended in having to live apart from the premises while it is being repaired, among other items, depending upon your specific insurance policy.

Sworn Proof of Claims, Statutory/Contractual requirements and Proper Strategy
We take aggressive steps to get you the most money the quickest, building a real damages model with experts, photographic and documentary evidence to document the specific damages. We also know how to keep the insurance companies honest. We know how to impose the appropriate litigation efforts or to report the insurance company to the Department of Insurance in your State, which may result in a completely separate investigation of the insurance company by the State and/or penalties being imposed upon them. We motivate the insurance company to honor their promises and get your claim processed quickly.

Where appropriate, whether you have an Association, or have a Commercial or Residential claim, the lawyers and staff at Becker & Poliakoff are here to manage your entire claim for you: We can help you understand the insurance policy/contract that was sold to you. We can help prepare Notices of Claim to the insurance company, prepare demand letters and/or actually file a lawsuit for damages against the insurance company. We facilitate all communications with the insurance company, property and inspection visits conducted by our experts and those of the insurance company, and so much more.

If you have suffered damages that are covered under your insurance policy, you have a right to pursue the insurance company (and others) in court to recover owed moneys. In our personal experience, we have found that insurance carriers tend to pay more money when a competent attorney with an expert team is pursuing litigation for nonpayment of covered damages.

If you have a public adjuster, have them call us; we will protect their right to get their fee, while maximizing the claim dollars that should be payable to you.

POST-DISASTER CHECKLIST TO PROTECT PROPERTY AND BEGIN RECOVERY

  • If you have emergency problems right after the storm, consult with emergency specialists to ensure your property is safe (either a general contractor or specialists in electrical, structural, plumbing, flood).
  • Contact attorney who is specialist in storm (rain/wind/flood event) claims to secure what steps should be immediate taken to preserve your claim and receive more immediate moneys
  • Contact your insurance broker/agent and let them know you have a claim. Request their active assistance in processing the claim.
  • Ask your insurance broker/agent for a FULL copy of the insurance policy (ies), Homeowners, commercial other policies. You may also have an “umbrella” policy or other policies that cover damages. You may also have a car insurance policy that covers your car or other things.
  • Take steps to protect your property from further damage.
  • All repairs should be evidenced by written estimates and paid for with check or credit card whenever possible to have a valid record; if by cash, make sure you have detailed estimate/document evidencing all they did with an explanation that this was caused by event.
  • Take photographs every aspect of your home; Make sure you describe what each photograph depicts; Load described photographs onto computer.
  • Take photographs of every area that you believe is damaged; Make sure you describe what each photograph depicts; Load described photographs onto computer.
  • Take video of every single portion of your home, narrating as to location.
  • If you have specific items damaged, Create a contact list of insurance broker, insurance broker, mortgage broker, mortgage agent, bank holding mortgage, bank where you deposit moneys, all specialists you have contacted (general contractor, public adjuster, etc.).
  • If you have not retained any specialists because you had no emergency, then get specific estimates of all damages by calling a general contractor who is licensed and insured. If necessary, also call specialists who are licensed and insured. If electrical problem, get electrician. If plumbing problem, get plumber. If structural problem, get engineer.
  • Make a specific list of all potential damage you see.
  • Find a complete copy of your mortgage documents for all mortgages on your property.
  • Contact mortgage broker/agent if you need other documents.
  • Locate the Deed to your house if you are not sure who the owners of the property are.
  • Compare the Deed to make sure the names of the insured(s) are the same.
  • If you have your house up for sale, please get all listing documents.
  • Locate and compare with whatever policy(ies) you have in your possession.
  • Your agent/broker should contact (with you on phone) the insurance company to report the claim.
  • Call agent/broker and (confirm in writing thereafter) tell them you expect them to monitor the claim and ensure you get the maximum recovery as soon as possible, and to inform you of any immediate funds that can be received from the insurance company while they are investigating.
  • Confirm you are utilizing all proper forms (Sworn Proof of Loss, Content Damage forms, etc.).
  • Make sure insurance company has written document with every damage you see and asking they immediately come out and inspect.
  • Write insurance company each day/week to ask for written status on claim.
  • Whatever they say or don’t say, write letter documenting it.
  • If repairs are to be made, make sure you have photographs and video showing the before, during and after repair status.

POST-DISASTER CHECKLIST FOR CONDOMINIUM, HOMEOWNER & COOP COMMUNITIES IMPACTED BY THE STORM
Resist the urge to contract with these initial offers until you have done the following:

  • Activate Your Disaster Plan. Once residents are safe, the community must begin surveying the property and assessing the damage. A designated information facilitator should set up system of information sharing among local homeowners and a disaster coordinator should serve as liaison to emergency services providers.
  • Secure your community from acts of vandalism and looting.
  • Remove storm debris to prevent accidents from occurring on the property.
  • Secure building structures to mitigate further damage.
  • Determine needs for immediate reconstruction and evaluate financing options including advances from insurance company for financial advances. BEWARE OF ANY INSURANCE COMPANY OFFERING MONEY IN EXCHANGE FOR RELEASES OR SETTLEMENTS.
  • Suspend or cancel on going contracts such as lawn or pool maintenance if allowed for in your contract.
  • Review governing documents particularly anything related to "repair after casualty" provisions in the insurance section to establish process for reconstruction.
  • Initiate reconstruction planning using the five phases of reconstruction: project planning/scheduling; construction bidding; contract negotiations; construction/repair/rehabilitation; project completion/close out.
  • Review Insurance policies to determine filing requirements for proof of loss forms.
  • Meet with licensed professionals familiar with your community including: a) architect/engineer to assess damage and prepare plans; b) construction manager to oversee selection of general contractor and begin competitive bidding process; c) attorney to review insurance policies, governing documents, construction contracts and any vendor agreements; and d) public adjuster who is independent of your insurance company's adjuster who can be helpful with the nuances of an ambiguous insurance policy. Most independent adjusters work for a fee based upon percentage of insurance proceeds.

Becker & Poliakoff’s Hurricane Preparation and Claims Recovery Team’s experience includes negotiating insurance settlements, litigating claims, drafting and negotiating reconstruction contracts, and working with local, state and federal emergency management agencies to expedite claims, facilitate negotiations, and secure mutually agreeable settlements. Put our team to work for you.

Hurricane Preparedness Checklist

  1. Disaster Plan – Do a risk analysis of potential consequences of a storm and develop a complete disaster plan, designating a responsible community member as Disaster Plan Coordinator and another as Information Facilitator to field queries and respond to from community members.
  2. Evacuation Routes – Establish clear building or community evacuation routes and be sure that all community members are provided with copies or printouts and that routes are clearly marked as storms approach; conduct building or community evacuation drills in the weeks leading up to hurricane season.
  3. Emergency Generators & Supplies – Be sure emergency generators are in working order and have adequate fuel supplies, stock a building or community emergency supplies storeroom with flashlights, batteries, water and other necessities for residents and employees in the aftermath of a tropical storm.
  4. Backup Computer Files – Be sure that computer files crucial to running the building and association are backed up to CDs or Portable Storage Devices and keep a list of office computer hardware and software vendors and repairmen in case computers crash or systems fail.
  5. Secure the Premises – Make preparations for routine lockdown of the building or other facilities as a storm approaches, so the building is secure during the storm and safe from vandalism or looting if a hurricane strikes.
  6. List of Owners & Employees – Have on hand a current, hard-copy reference list complete with the names all property owners, emergency contact numbers and details of second residence addresses, as well as a list of all association employees, with full contact details.
  7. Photograph or Video Premises – Keep a visual record through video or photographs of premises, facilities and buildings to facilitate damage assessment and speed damage claims in a storm aftermath.
  8. Building and Facilities Plans – Make sure a complete set of building or community plans are readily available for consultation by first-responders, utilities workers and insurance adjusters following a storm.
  9. Insurance Policies & Agent Details – Be sure all insurance policies are current and coverage is adequate for community property, facilities and common areas and compliant with State Law; full contact details for insurance companies and agents should be readily available in the event of a storm.
  10. Bank Account Details & Signatories – Keep handy a list of all bank account numbers, branch locations and authorized association signatories, and make contingency plans for back-up signatories in case evacuation or relocation becomes necessary.
  11. Mitigation of Damages – In the immediate aftermath of a storm, take the necessary steps to mitigate damages — this includes "Drying-In," which is the placement of tarps on openings in the roof and plywood over blown out doors and windows, and "Drying-Out," which is the removal of wet carpet and drywall to prevent the growth of mold.
  12. Debris Removal – Have a plan for speedy removal of debris by maintenance staff, outside contractors or civic public works employees, should a hurricane topple trees and leave debris in its wake.

Hurricane and Disaster Recovery Webinars

Disaster Planning for the 2011 Hurricane Season: Are You Ready to Weather the Storm?
06/01/2011 Presented by William StropSanjay Kurian and Robert Rubin

Hurricane Preparedness During A Restoration Project: How to Protect Your Structure In the Wake of a Hurricane
08/25/2010 Moderated by Steven Lesser
Running time: 59:43

Anatomy of a Disaster Claim
07/23/2010, Presented by Herb Brock and Rick Slider. Moderated by Steven Lesser.
Running time: 1:05:52

Hurricane Preparedness 
12/15/2009, Presented by Steven Lesser. Running time: 58:34

What Your Insurance Carrier Doesn't Want You to Know: Preparing and Presenting an Insurance Claim for Maximum Recovery
06/20/2009, Presented by Ken Direktor and Sanjay Kurian.
Running Time: 1:10

Community Update Articles
Tips on Preparing your Emergency Operation Plan
Hurricane Insurance Claims: What do you Need to do to Recover Insurance Money?

Hurricane and Disaster Recovery Blog Posts
http://www.floridacondohoalawblog.com

Name Title Phone V-Card Email Office
Joseph E. Adams Office Managing Shareholder, Ft. Myers and Naples 239.433.7707 Ft. Myers
Donna DiMaggio Berger Shareholder 954.364.6031 Ft. Lauderdale
H.O. Brock, Jr. Shareholder 239.433.7707 Ft. Myers
Kenneth S. Direktor Shareholder 561.655.5444 Ft. Lauderdale
Scott Kiernan Shareholder 407.875.0955 Orlando
Sanjay Kurian Shareholder 239.433.7707 Ft. Myers
Steven B. Lesser Shareholder 954.985.4137 Ft. Lauderdale
Howard J. Perl Shareholder 954.364.6054 Ft. Lauderdale
David H. Rogel Shareholder 305.260.1015 Miami
Robert Rubinstein Office Managing Shareholder, West Palm Beach 561.655.5444 West Palm Beach
William H. Strop Shareholder 954.364.6081 Ft. Lauderdale