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Natural Disasters & Insurance for California Property Owners

By Peterson Law Group on December 20, 2023

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Natural disasters impact your business in several ways. In addition to damaging your facilities, natural disasters also cause losses stemming from the business interruption that occurs while you are working to get back up on your feet again.

Calculating the full extent of the business interruption that results from a natural disaster is a complicated process. Having a well-prepared claim will help protect you against unscrupulous insurance agents who are reluctant to honor your claim in a timely manner.

In times of crisis, it’s important to have the right legal representation to guide you through the claims process, negotiate with your insurance carrier, and litigate if necessary.

What Is a Natural Disaster?

A natural disaster is a naturally occurring event that has a severely harmful impact on people and property. Many natural disasters result in subsidence, which refers to earth movement, including landslides, mudflow, and sinking, rising, or shifting soil. Examples of natural disasters that business owners face in California include:

  • Floods
  • Rainstorms
  • Snowstorms
  • Windstorm
  • Landslides
  • Avalanches
  • Wildfires
  • Lightning strikes

Business Interruption Costs After a Natural Disaster

The actual losses caused by a natural disaster are often much greater than the direct cost of repairing property damage and replacing lost or damaged inventory. The suspension of operations during the period of restoration is likely to generate significant expenses.

Many businesses purchase business interruption insurance as a standalone product or bundled as part of their overall coverage. Business interruption insurance covers the expenses that continue to accrue during the period when a business is not fully operational, such as rent, taxes, lease payments, maintenance, wages, and overhead. Your insurance lawyer will take measures to ensure the insurance company honors its commitment to fulfill the conditions of your business interruption policy.

In addition to ongoing operations expenses, losses suffered by businesses due to natural disasters may include:

  • Property damage
  • Inventory loss
  • Lost revenue
  • Supply chain disruption
  • Transportation
  • Temporary relocation

Insurance Carriers Acting in Bad Faith After a Natural Disaster

When an insurance company deliberately acts in a manner that violates its contractual obligations to a policyholder, it’s called insurance bad faith. There are several tactics that insurance companies use to delay, deny, and minimize their obligation to policyholders. This includes pretending that they haven’t received your claim, making half-hearted efforts to investigate your claim, offering a lowball settlement, and providing capricious reasons for denying your claim.

Illegitimate tactics that are frequently employed by insurance companies to delay and refuse natural disaster claims include:

  • Wrongful refusal to settle
  • Refusal to acknowledge the claim
  • Outright denial of coverage
  • Unreasonable payment delays
  • Failure to pay settled claims
  • Failure to conduct a reasonable investigation
  • Failure to adopt reasonable standards for settling claims
  • Failure to affirm or deny claims in a reasonable time frame
  • Attempts to settle at a less-than-reasonable amount
  • Advising policyholders not to obtain the services of an attorney

How Your California Insurance Attorney Can Help

When insurance companies play games with your settlement, they’re placing your business at risk. Prompt action from your attorney will put the insurance carrier on notice that such unscrupulous behavior will not be tolerated.

A Los Angeles landslide lawyer at Peterson Law Group, PC will analyze your policy and identify all breaches in coverage. We will also calculate the full extent of your insurance carrier’s obligation. If the other side refuses to negotiate in good faith, Peterson Law Group, PC is always prepared to take them to court.

When preparing a claim or a lawsuit, Peterson Law Group, PC calls upon expert witnesses, which may include:

  • Accountants
  • Mechanical engineers
  • Geologists
  • Economists
  • Risk assessors
  • Spoil engineers
  • Real estate appraisers

Protecting Property Owners in California for Over 35 Years

Peterson Law Group, PC has a record of successfully litigating insurance settlement disputes in California. Founding attorney John Peterson is uniquely qualified to advise clients on all matters related to property law. The outstanding level of service John Peterson provides to our clients has been recognized by the independent rating agencies Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers.

We are proud to say that our Los Angeles firm has won substantial settlements for our clients, often in excess of the anticipated amount.

Give us a call at (213) 319-4993, and let’s see how we can help.

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