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Catastrophe Claims: Insurance Coverage for Natural and Man-Made Disasters

 

 Insurance Law Committee // “Catastrophe Claims: Insurance Coverage for Natural and Man-Made Disasters” by Claramargaret H. Groover, Esq. // The Briefs, May 2019 Vol. 87 No. 4. //

I personally feel that this year’s must-have insurance treatise is “Catastrophe Claims: Insurance Coverage for Natural and Man-Made Disasters.”1 This volume is co-edited by Dennis J. Wall, a respected member of our Orange County Bar Association, who is well known for his expertise in insurance matters. Mr. Wall, his coeditors, John K. DiMugno and Steven Plitt, and other authors present an up-to-date analysis of insurance law and practice arising from contemporary events.

What is new?

Cases are taken straight from recent national headlines, including those arising from Hurricane Katrina; the cyber-hacking of the Target Corporation; terrorism at the World Trade Center; floods and fires; the Northridge Earthquake; and subprime mortgage litigation, as well as others. The authors and editors also address trends in conditions that could lead to more catastrophic events, such as climate change (irrespective of the cause of climate change), and changes in the regulatory scheme in the wake of current administration Executive Orders.

The most significant recent additions are two new chapters devoted to the 83-year-old Social Security Disability Insurance Program, with the reminder that Social Security is insurance. One chapter lays out the basis and status of the Act and one addresses Social Security Disability Insurance. In the editors’ words, “These are the twin premises behind both chapters: First, Social Security Old-Age Insurance and Social Security Disability Insurance are insurance. Second, these are insurance contracts between the federal government and the people of the United States, governed by principles written in the Constitution of the United States.”

Senior lawyers and lawyers who counsel the aged or disabled client recognize that even a modest return can ameliorate the catastrophic cost of living once an individual can no longer work. Here, the author reminds us of the constitutional underpinnings of this insurance legislation that once helped an economically defeated nation recover from the Great Depression after 1929. The initial chapter on the status of the Act is subtitled: “An outline, not an argument.”

Topics Covered

The range of topics spans from fundamentals of insurance policies and risk management; fundamentals of claims handling, appraisals, and underwriting as well as litigation; agent and broker liability; causation in coverage determination; changes in homeowner property insurance; valuation and proof of business interruption losses post-catastrophe; insurance for disaster losses due to human activity; flood and earthquake insurance as well as disasters that are both natural and manmade; financial disasters, such as the subprime crisis, and director and officer liability insurance; and social security and disability insurance to the post-modern insurance for cyberattacks.

What I found surprising was that this treatise is very reader friendly even while covering highly technical subjects. For example, in one part, the authors cite Dodd-Frank, legislation intended to protect us from financial institutions that are “too big to fail,” and, in the same paragraph, include a quote from William Faulkner.2  In other words, the tone of the treatise is intellectually intriguing and entertaining on many levels as well as authoritative on the law.

I highly recommend this treatise to any lawyer whose practice touches on insurable risk.

 Claramargaret H. Groover, Esq., is of counsel to Becker & Poliakoff in Orlando. She is board certified in Construction Law and is a member of The Florida Bar Real Property Probate and Trust Section’s Insurance and Surety Committee. She has been a member of the OCBA since 1992.

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1Thompson-Reuters, November 2017.

2“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun (New York, Vintage, 2011), p.73.