Hurricane Matthew ravaged the Southeast with high winds and flooding rains, but few places were as hard hit as the Eastern North Carolina towns of Princeville, Tarboro, Kinston, Goldsboro, Lumberton, Smithfield, Fayetteville and surrounding communities. In an effort to help these flooded areas recover, attorneys working together through NorthCarolinaFloodClaims.com have arranged for well-known and highly regarded flood insurance lawyer J.R. Whaley to present via Skype at a free community meeting at the Quality Inn & Suites in Tarboro on Monday, November 7th from 5-7 PM. The presentation will also be available online via live webinar for those who cannot attend in person. Whaley currently represents hundreds of businesses and homeowners in the Baton Rouge area flooded during the “1,000 Year Storm” of August 2016. He also litigated cases after Hurricane Katrina ravaged Louisiana in 2005.
The meeting is co-hosted by The Whitley Law Firm and Crouse Law Offices, both of Raleigh, as well as The Law Office of Thomas L. Young of Tampa, which is leading the team’s efforts to help Floridians recover from Hurricane Matthew (see FloridaFloodClaims.com).
What was originally anticipated to be a top five storm in terms of insured losses (over $30 billion), recent Hurricane Matthew damage estimates from the insurance industry range somewhere between $3 and $6 billion – certainly large, but not crippling. Of course, that’s no comfort to a flooded homeowner in Princeville. Half of the estimated losses are anticipated to be flood related and thus not covered by conventional homeowner policies (but rather the National Flood Insurance Program).
While a speedy recovery is certainly desired, I am concerned with the insurance industry’s almost obsessive focus on rapidly contacting insureds and scheduling adjuster visits. While in a vacuum this sounds good, a quick settlement offer from an insurance company is only beneficial to a North Carolina home or business owner if the offer is a fair one. The obsession with speed will likely lead to errant estimates from insurance company adjusters. And while most adjusters employed by insurers are honest operators, the simple fact is that they are paid by companies that want to minimize their claims-paid exposure. All things being equal, human nature says that these insurance company employed adjusters may err on the side of a low offer.
As I’ve said in previous articles, the insurance settlement process is a negotiation, and insureds would be well served to seek second and even third opinions. Whether insurance company employed adjusters have a natural bias toward minimizing claims, or they simply make mistakes when rushing to visit and evaluate thousands of structures, the policyholder must remain vigilant.
With this in mind, we have scheduled this free community meeting in Tarboro. Attendees will hear from local attorney Jim Crouse as well as Louisiana flood insurance attorney J.R. Whaley live via Skype from Baton Rouge. Whaley will offer a preview of what Hurricane Matthew victims may expect over the coming months, based on his experience over the past two months after the Baton Rouge disaster. Unfortunately, J.R. reports that insurance companies in Louisiana are consistently offering at least 50% less than what independent adjusters estimate losses to be. This is something those recovering from Hurricane Matthew should keep in mind when going through the insurance claims negotiation process.
I hope you can join us at the meeting. Attendance is free. Please RSVP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guest Speakers – Florida Attorney Tom Young & Louisiana Flood Insurance Attorney J.R. Whaley
Monday, November 7, 5pm – 7pm
Quality Inn & Suites
1504 Western Boulevard, Tarboro
Or attend remotely by conference call / webinar by registering here.