SOURCE: Katzman Garfinkel Rosenbaum

October 27, 2008 14:25 ET

Three Years Post-Hurricane Wilma, Millions of Dollars in Insurance Claims Still Unpaid

Third Year Anniversary a Good Time to Remind People That It's Not Too Late to Still File a Claim According to National Disaster Attorney Alan Garfinkel

ORLANDO, FL--(Marketwire - October 27, 2008) - On the third anniversary of Hurricane Wilma, many Florida homeowners and condominium associations have yet to be paid for insurance claims. Natural disaster attorney Alan Garfinkel of the law firm of Katzman Garfinkel Rosenbaum advises that it's still not too late to file an original claim from the storm.

"The statute of limitations on filing a lawsuit for unreimbursed insurance claims is five years from the date of the disaster," said Garfinkel. "Many homeowners and associations still may have legitimate claims to make from Wilma, but may be afraid to do so fearing their premiums will spike or they'll be dropped altogether. These fears are unfounded because state law and administrative regulations forbid an insurance company from not renewing or cancelling policies when the insurance claim results from an act of God, and from selectively raising rates."

On October 24, 2005, Hurricane Wilma slammed into Florida's Southwest coast and tore a path through Florida exiting between Ft. Pierce and Ft. Lauderdale, causing billions of dollars in damage. According to Garfinkel, some insurance companies routinely denied claims or purposely valued losses less than the hurricane deductible.

"Some insurance companies went out of their way to delay and deny legitimate claims, forcing homeowners and associations to go to court to enforce their rights," said Garfinkel. "Meanwhile, three years after the storm, roofs still have holes, ceilings have leaks and many hard working people have been pinched paying for temporary repairs out of their own pocket. With the economy the way it is, they could use that money now."

Katzman Garfinkel Rosenbaum was co-counsel with the law firm of Greenberg Traurig in the Vantage View vs. QBE Insurance Corporation case, which recently resulted in a $1.5 million dollar jury verdict to the association for hurricane-related damages.

Attorney Dan Rosenbaum, a senior partner in the law firm, won an $8.1 million Federal Court Jury Verdict against QBE last year. The firm faces QBE again in another Federal Court trial in the next few weeks.

Garfinkel said despite the challenges some property owners have had collecting money from their insurance companies, that should not stop anyone who thinks the insurance company did not fully pay or refused to pay their claim. This is true even for those owners and associations who have previously received insurance proceeds (and cashed their checks) so long as they did not sign a separate release.

"They have nothing to lose," said Garfinkel. "We will come out with construction experts and do an assessment. If we think Hurricane Wilma or any other storm was responsible for property damage and they were not fairly compensated by their insurance company, we'll file a claim at no cost to the property owner or association."

Attorney Alan Garfinkel has devoted his practice for the last 19 years to disaster law civil litigation. He has written and lectured frequently on the topic. For more information call 800-393-1529 or visit www.askthefirm.com.

About Katzman Garfinkel Rosenbaum:

Katzman Garfinkel Rosenbaum is a law firm that focuses on community association and natural disaster law. With offices in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando, Naples, Boynton Beach, and West Palm Beach, the firm offers residents living in all types of common interest ownership communities with a complete set of services including general corporate representation, collection, first party insurance claim recovery and construction defect litigation. It was one of the first firms to advance all fees and costs on behalf of communities that are forced to pursue collection of delinquent assessments. For more information log on to www.askthefirm.com.

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