but the storm surge washed away the evidence on the missing structures. For those clients, we had to go beyond conventional methods.
Bedford, TX (Vocus) September 22, 2010
Suncoast Claims Inc., Texas public adjusters, says their clients claims and thousands more “missing houses” claims on the Texas coast have settled. Suncoast Claims Inc. is a policyholder advocate with many clients impacted by Hurricane Ike. Attorneys representing these policyholders successfully negotiated with Texas Windstorm Insurance Association to reach a settlement on 2400 of the totally destroyed homes, also called “slab claims” by TWIA.
For Suncoast clients with a “missing house” on south Texas Bolivar Peninsula it was a victory as the second anniversary of Hurricane Ike approached. Suncoast, along with hundreds of estimators, adjusters, engineers, and attorneys, was involved in the massive wind insurance claim settlement effort.
Suncoast also recently settled claims on “Last House Standing”, seen on national television and featured on the Weather Channel. The settlement involved flood and wind damage to the elevated yellow home seen by millions that was left standing in the midst of miles of total devastation.
“We immediately realized the difficulty these policyholders faced,” said Don Wood, President of Suncoast Claims. “Hurricanes produce wind and flood, and dual-causation losses are especially complex. Many of these homes and businesses were actually gone - nothing remained of over 3000 dwellings. Our job was to determine the damages, distinguishing between those caused by wind and those caused by flood on both the remaining structures and on the missing buildings. In Texas, the policyholder has the burden of proof when there is more than one cause of loss.”
“We step in for the insured, the policyholder, as their advocate,” Don said. “These clients needed expert help with their wind claim, their flood claim, and someone who could give them the claim assistance they needed to overcome the low insurance estimates the insurance companies were producing. They needed a public adjuster like Suncoast Claims,” said Don. “We have experience with the policy fine print, the rebuilding process, and the claim settlement process. We are truly on the insured’s side in the damage settlement process.”
“Adding to the policyholders’ dilemma the wind insurer disputed the wind speed,” Don said. “That resulted in low damage estimates attributed to wind. For our clients in Houston and on Bolivar, we hired a forensic meteorologist with hurricane experience. His reports confirmed the wind and its peak gusts in relation to the storm surge.”
Next Suncoast needed engineers prove the wind’s effects. “The standing structures were straightforward,” Don said, “but the storm surge washed away the evidence on the missing structures. For those clients, we had to go beyond conventional methods. ”
Assisted by one of Houston’s most experienced structural engineers, months were spent studying photos, field inspections, and building failure rates. Suncoast used his calculations and experience from previous hurricanes to create a model of damages. As their work proceeded, they became more confident the destruction of the ‘missing houses’ had a substantial wind component – it was not all flood damage.
“Combining the engineering, estimating, catastrophe statistics, and our familiarity with damage scenes, we assigned a dollar cost to the damages as a percentage of the overall cost of the building,” said Don. “Armed with this information we and other experts produced, capable attorneys carried the ball into the end zone.”
“At Suncoast, we have a new understanding of damage estimating using engineering models, which we continue to improve for future use. With our team, we will be able to readily determine wind forces on structures and resulting damages,” said Don.
Don added, “Without expert help, it would have been nearly impossible for policyholders to be made whole, because the original estimate numbers provided by the insurer were so low. Policyholders must be vigilant to overcome a well-documented industry-wide trend toward low property claim settlements and rapidly get help to get whole. Meanwhile, we continue to work on the remaining open damage claims across south Texas.”
Call Suncoast Claims to discuss your property insurance claim. Don Wood, President of Suncoast Claims Inc., is a licensed public adjuster and a former residential, commercial, and industrial builder. He has served as a staff company adjuster, independent adjuster, and construction estimator. He is a member of the Texas Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (TAPIA), as well as FAPIA (Florida) and NAPIA (National), and is a Windstorm Network certified umpire for insurance loss appraisals. Suncoast Claims Inc. (Texas license #1586009) represents ONLY the Insured. Contact us at 817-458-3056, or PO 1201, Bedford, TX 76095.