Fix the Roof on a Sunny Day -“Hurricane’s are not Floods” by Patrick J. Tighe

This letter is an open request to lawmakers of the state of Florida. As we are in the heart of hurricane season and in light of the fact that we, the citizens of South Florida have just dodged hurricanes Faye, Gustave, Hanna & Ike, with less damages than anticipated to our beloved state. This is the very time to utilize the attention that the devastation that the state of Texas has experienced on its Gulf side, for change within our state.

We have all watched the news and seen the photos of massive boats and yachts that have been lifted and dropped on the highways of Texas. These photos and depictions are very similar to the devastation that the Gulf region experienced during Hurricane Katrina.

In the days, weeks, months and sadly, years to follow thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of property damage claims will be submitted to insurance companies from all across the nation. Many of these claims will be denied because they will be deemed to have been “flood” related damages. It was well reported in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that any damages that were claimed that were found to be below the “water line” – the “water line” being the high water mark left after the Hurricanes, were deemed to be “flood” damages.

This is a classic abuse of policy language definitions. The insurance companies are hiding behind exclusions in their policy language for floods. These exclusions are valid in the policy language however when applied to a hurricane situation these rising waters are not “floods”. The definition of a flood is as follows: “Flooding may result from the volume of water within a body of water, such as a river or lake, exceeding the total capacity of its bounds, with the result that some of the water flows or sits outside of the normal perimeter of the body. It can also occur in rivers, when the strength of the river is so high it flows right out of the river channel, particularly at corners or meanders.”

My request to Gov. Crist and to the other esteemed legislators of the state of Florida is to place a law on the books in the state of Florida defining water related damages that may come about within 72 hours of a named tropical storm or hurricane not be permitted to be excluded by these major insurance companies. This simple law would eliminate thousands of hours of stress and litigation, it would eliminate the ability of major insurers to deny valid claims under policies that were written to cover such claims.

The insurance industry sets reserves based upon 100% of the damages a hurricane causes and they are allowed to exclude a large percentage of the damages from the claims that come from the storms that the reserves are based upon this creates an arbitrage in their premium rating system which harms the public and harms the state and harms the federal government, by allowing the insurance industry to create this arbitrage it permits the insurance industry to delegate the claims they should pay out from their policies to the federal government’s flood protection program. After they have already collected the premiums to cover these very claims.

About West Palm Beach Attorney:

Patrick J. Tighe is an West Palm Beach lawyer – attorney in the law firm of Patrick J. Tighe, P.A., FL. He practices in the areas of general negligence and personal injury. Patrick has represented injured parties exclusively for the past 6 years. Mr. Tighe earned his B.A. degree from Villanova University, in Villanova Pa. and his J.D. degree from St. John’s University – School of Law, in New York City. He is a former Senior Claims Representative for the #1 insurer of Automobiles in the country. Patrick is often asked to speak regarding differing insurance coverage issues. Patrick is a member of the American Justice Association, the Florida Justice Association and the Palm Beach County Justice Association.

Patrick J. Tighe
1675 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd.,
7th Floor
West Palm Beach, Fl 33401
Telephone: (561) 799-1542
Facsimile: (561) 799-1543