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The High-Powered, Big Money, Anti-Consumer Industry Has Just Won Some Major Victories And A Real “Nice” Windfall On May 17, 2011 the insurance industry was able to successfully enact Senate Bill 408, which contains many absurd and anti-consumer provisions.  Even though some of their advocates admitted privately that certain provisions were unconstitutional, their position was that it would take consumers years to sort out.  The bottom line is that they made any fair cash-outs of sinkhole claims much more difficult, and in many situations, impossible.  Just a few of these absurdities follow: They redefined what constitutes a sinkhole loss by creating various new definitions and conditions and then remarkably attempted to make those definitions retroactive to 2005.  Worse yet, they now define a “sinkhole loss” in such a way that many confirmed sinkholes can now be ruled to be a “non-sinkhole claim” resulting in no payment. Unlike any other property claim, such as fire, wind, or flood, a person is never required to make the actual repairs to their property in order to obtain the value of their loss.  Yet this new legislation states that your insurance company does not owe you a dime for any subsurface repairs until you actually incur those costs. There is even a provision in the Statute that presumes the correctness of the insurance company’s geotechnical report regardless of the experience or expertise of that individual.  (That same expert is presumed correct when he or she is hired by the insurance company—and is legally presumed not correct when hired by a property owner or attorney who is representing a property owner.  (Yes, it sounds unfair because it is unfair, but this is now the law of the land.)  The new law now permits insurance companies to not only charge high deductibles but also to take away coverage of such things as patios, driveways and other buildings other than the primary one. New conditions and time limits in which a consumer now has to process a claim has also been imposed.  The newly permitted deductibles will make it impossible for many property owners to repair, providing the insurance companies with a windfall of millions of dollars.  See the paragraph regarding neutral evaluation below. The full Statute is reprinted in its entirety here.  (F.S. 627.706-627.7074). Warning: Is Neutral Evaluation, Neutral? Floridians should beware of the process called “Neutral Evaluation” which has caused many consumers to drop valid sinkhole claims; again, a masterful accomplishment by the big money lobbyists. First, it is not at all “neutral.” Almost all the “judges,” who this law refer to as the “neutrals,” are paid significant money each year; some over a million dollars working for the insurance companies as their vendors. Can you imagine anything worse in a legal setting than having your judge on the actual payroll of your adversary? Consumers who are forced to participate in this process almost never win. HOWEVER, we have been extremely successful in helping to have almost every client who lost, still get paid. So if this is where you are at, do not give up.  Call us. Can A Public Adjuster Help Me?  Not like they used to!  I should know.  For over 30 years, I worked full time as one.  It was a great business, and our settlements were great, often far in excess of policy limits.  However, given the drastic changes in the Florida Sinkhole Law that the insurance industry was able to get enacted (which are highlighted above), we are now advising consumers that repairing is generally their best option.  It is usually not what they want to hear, but it just simply faces reality, at least in the current legal environment.  Cashing out a sinkhole claim has become a monumental task, and the best and most experienced attorneys are not obtaining anywhere near the results that they used to, as the insurance industry and their attorneys are using those unfair and anti-consumer laws to their advantage.  Many new provisions in the new law reduces the insurance companies’ risks of litigation, and some have even said, “either take a $1,000 payment or see us in court.” Can Sinkhole Repairs Fail? Yes, they often do.  However, at least under the current Statute, if your repair is done utilizing the insurance company’s recommended protocol and is monitored by someone they select or approve, you could be entitled to policy limits (without any deductions for what was spent on the failed repairs) if the repair fails and cannot be properly remediated. Obviously, the industry fights these very hard, and your chances of success are greatly increased by hiring a professional consulting team like us.  The last thing you want is to hire someone who will automatically join the insurance company fight against you, should their repair protocol fail.  As your consultant, we will inspect and document all new damages and assist in determining the cause. Warning:  Rebates Are Now Illegal Some industry contractors are still offering insureds rebates and kickbacks.  Be careful—these are now illegal and will result in the forfeiture of your claim. Warning: Do You Have Real Coverage? The new “catastrophic collapse” coverage that the Insurance Industry’s lobbyists falsely presented to the state legislature as a fair and inexpensive alternative to the then existing mandatory sinkhole coverage is as near to being illegal illusionary coverage than anything. If you desire sinkhole coverage, pay extra for the real thing. The absurd “catastrophic collapse” coverage can almost never be collected on, and the real sinkhole damages that occur in over 99% of those claims will not be covered without actual sinkhole coverage. Ways We Can Help Despite the many new oppressive provisions enacted by our Florida Legislature, there are still many ways we can possibly help.  If you have unexplained damages that you believe can possibly be sinkhole related—we will gladly provide a FREE INSPECTION.   See Six Ways We Can Help.  
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