Florida lawyer to talk flood compensation


By Lindell John Kay
Staff Writer

Friday, October 28, 2016

When Twin Counties residents are finished sifting through the wreckage, cleaning up flood damage and flipping through endless insurance paperwork in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, they may be eager to cash a settlement check and move forward with their lives.

That might not be the best course of action, Florida-based attorney Thomas Young said.

“I'm an attorney from Florida helping Hurricane Matthew victims deal with their flood insurance companies,” Young said. “There’s no harm in getting a second opinion. You should not feel pressured into taking the first offer. Your carrier is not necessarily looking out for your best interest.”

Young, from Tampa, has helped clients with claims related to the BP oil spill and other cases involving environmental economic losses. He has scheduled a community meeting for Nov. 7 at the Quality Inn in Tarboro. Attendance is free.

Young and the Whitley Law Firm in Raleigh have arranged for J.R. Whaley to present information on the topic for attendees. Whaley is a well known flood insurance attorney from Baton Rouge, La., who represented victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Whaley will share his perspective on what residents of Eastern North Carolina can expect from insurance carriers over the coming weeks. Whaley also will report on insurance companies in Louisiana consistently offering at least 50 percent less than what independent adjusters estimate losses to be. This is something folks recovering from Hurricane Matthew should keep in mind when going through the insurance claims negotiation process, Young said.

Many residents will need claim checks to rebuild, but Young said people need to remember they are not entirely at the mercy of their insurance company. He said people often feel compelled to accept whatever the adjuster recommends, but they should not be afraid to challenge something they think is wrong.

“You’re in a negotiation,” he said. “You need to realize the insurance company’s adjuster is naturally inclined toward making an offer that limits his employer’s liability and exposure. Hopefully that number is close to your actual losses and damage. But oftentimes it’s not. We’re not saying that’s happening here. We hope it’s not. We think most insurance companies are honest operators.”

With a large number of claims being filed at the same time, Young said there is the added pressure of adjusters trying to see so many people as quickly as possible, which could lead to honest mistakes.

“It’s not necessarily an intentional thing,” Young said. “A lot of it is just simple error. Whereas a more thorough inspection would reveal structural damage or other issues that aren’t obvious with a quick pass.”

Insurance customers can hire independent lawyers with an adjuster on staff. That will require a policyholder to turn over a percentage of the settlement to the hired adjuster or attorney.

More information is available at NorthCarolinaFloodClaims.com.