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Old 08-04-2018, 14:43   #1
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Hurricane Irma Insurance Claim Help (Need ATTY in UK)

I have some friends that might need a UK attorney to file suit to try to get their hurricane insurance honored. Their sailboat is their home and their business. It suffered signficant damage from Hurricane Irma while in the BVI that exceeds their policy so itís a constructive loss (according to 3 surveys/assessments that they have had done). The agent (very sketchy), however, has been giving them the total run-around and refuses to settle the claim. They are in USVI now and the policy says jurisdicition is only proper in UK. They donít have a lot of money to pay, so any thoughts are appreciated. Claim should be about $150K US so itís not insignificant!
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Old 15-04-2018, 14:45   #2
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Re: Hurricane Irma Insurance Claim Help (Need ATTY in UK)

A lawyer's first priority with any new client is not to solve their problem, it is to figure out how to maximize their potential fee from the client. Nearly always this means dragging things out. The longer it takes to solve a problem, the more money the lawyer makes. For this reason, you are well advised to try to solve the problem yourself. Going to a lawyer should be an act of desperation after all other avenues are exhausted.

Read your policy. All standard marine insurance policies have a part called a "navigational warranty" which limits the coverage to particular geographical areas. The only exception to this is when the boat is harmed by barratry (when the crew mishandles the boat) or other external force, like piracy. For example, if your boat was stolen and taken to the BVI, then you could make a claim, but if the owner of the boat knew and approved of the voyage of the boat beyond the limits of the navigational warranty, then the owner assumes the liability for any damage at that point.

In this case it sounds like you willingly took the boat yourself to the foreign location, therefore, if you have no insurance for that location, then you have no claim.
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Old 16-04-2018, 05:53   #3
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Re: Hurricane Irma Insurance Claim Help (Need ATTY in UK)

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Originally Posted by jsc7 View Post
A lawyer's first priority with any new client is not to solve their problem, it is to figure out how to maximize their potential fee from the client. Nearly always this means dragging things out. The longer it takes to solve a problem, the more money the lawyer makes. For this reason, you are well advised to try to solve the problem yourself. Going to a lawyer should be an act of desperation after all other avenues are exhausted.

Read your policy. All standard marine insurance policies have a part called a "navigational warranty" which limits the coverage to particular geographical areas. The only exception to this is when the boat is harmed by barratry (when the crew mishandles the boat) or other external force, like piracy. For example, if your boat was stolen and taken to the BVI, then you could make a claim, but if the owner of the boat knew and approved of the voyage of the boat beyond the limits of the navigational warranty, then the owner assumes the liability for any damage at that point.

In this case it sounds like you willingly took the boat yourself to the foreign location, therefore, if you have no insurance for that location, then you have no claim.

I believe you have misunderstood SailGreen's post. He states:

Quote:
...the policy says jurisdicition is only proper in UK.
By the foregoing I believe he is referring to the venue for the resolution of legal matters, not the limits of navigation. Considering the locale is the "British Virgin Islands" I would argue that, for all practical purposes, the BVI is part of the UK although a BVI Court might demur.
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Old 16-04-2018, 06:01   #4
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Re: Hurricane Irma Insurance Claim Help (Need ATTY in UK)

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Originally Posted by sailgreen View Post
I have some friends that might need a UK attorney to file suit to try to get their hurricane insurance honored. Their sailboat is their home and their business. It suffered signficant damage from Hurricane Irma while in the BVI that exceeds their policy so itís a constructive loss (according to 3 surveys/assessments that they have had done). The agent (very sketchy), however, has been giving them the total run-around and refuses to settle the claim. They are in USVI now and the policy says jurisdicition is only proper in UK. They donít have a lot of money to pay, so any thoughts are appreciated. Claim should be about $150K US so itís not insignificant!
You might try contacting the Cruising Association in London to see about a referral:

CA House, 1 Northey Street,
Limehouse Basin, London E14 8BT
Tel : +44 (0)20 7537 2828
Email: office@theca.org.uk
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Old 16-04-2018, 07:06   #5
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Re: Hurricane Irma Insurance Claim Help (Need ATTY in UK)

First is to get a copy of the actual insurance contract and read it. Also ask the agent exactly what the hold up is and when they can expect it to be resolved.

If they did something inconsistent with the insurance terms, they may be out of luck and hiring a lawyer may simply be throwing good money after bad.

What is the nature of the "run around"? Big difference between the agent agrees they are covered but things are slow due to the huge backlog vs the agent doesn't think it's covered. Or is it a debate over the value of the payout? Hard to give advice when we don't know the nature of the problem.
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Old 24-04-2018, 06:57   #6
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Re: Hurricane Irma Insurance Claim Help (Need ATTY in UK)

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Originally Posted by sailgreen View Post
It suffered signficant damage from Hurricane Irma while in the BVI that exceeds their policy so itís a constructive loss
This also maybe an issue as it could mean that the vessel was under insured. If so the insuror will look at averaging the policy ie not paying the full claim. This would certainly delay settlement as the Insuror would want a valuation done of the vessel.

Would also be careful involving lawyers, however you cluld engage a law firm to write a letter only. Amazing how a letter on a lawyers letterhead can move things along

Like another poster said, hard to provide advice when few details are provided.

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Old 24-04-2018, 07:43   #7
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Re: Hurricane Irma Insurance Claim Help (Need ATTY in UK)

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This also maybe an issue as it could mean that the vessel was under insured. If so the insuror will look at averaging the policy ie not paying the full claim. This would certainly delay settlement as the Insuror would want a valuation done of the vessel.
Ilenart,

Could you explain what you mean here by "averaging the policy"? I don't follow either the legal trail or the logic (not that they are necessarily the same...)

If I have a boat worth k$250, and I insure it for k$150, and it is totally destroyed, under what conditions would the underinsurance mean that the underwriter pays LESS than k$150 policy value?
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Old 24-04-2018, 08:21   #8
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Re: Hurricane Irma Insurance Claim Help (Need ATTY in UK)

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Ilenart,

Could you explain what you mean here by "averaging the policy"? I don't follow either the legal trail or the logic (not that they are necessarily the same...)

If I have a boat worth k$250, and I insure it for k$150, and it is totally destroyed, under what conditions would the underinsurance mean that the underwriter pays LESS than k$150 policy value?
It can indicate co insurance. Modify your example to say there is $100k of damage,instead of a total loss. The insurer may say that they owe their portion of the insurance, 150/250*$100k and you owe the co insurance amount of 100/250*$100k.
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Old 24-04-2018, 08:27   #9
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Re: Hurricane Irma Insurance Claim Help (Need ATTY in UK)

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It can indicate co insurance. Modify your example to say there is $100k of damage,instead of a total loss. The insurer may say that they owe their portion of the insurance, 150/250*$100k and you owe the co insurance amount of 100/250*$100k.
I wonder how many lawyer's kids got their college tuition paid because of THAT calculation???

I am assuming this would NOT apply to an "agreed value" policy?
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Old 24-04-2018, 16:42   #10
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Re: Hurricane Irma Insurance Claim Help (Need ATTY in UK)

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I wonder how many lawyer's kids got their college tuition paid because of THAT calculation???

I am assuming this would NOT apply to an "agreed value" policy?
In an agreed value policy the agreed value only applies to a total loss, not to a partial loss.
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Old 24-04-2018, 18:22   #11
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Hurricane Irma Insurance Claim Help (Need ATTY in UK)

Our insurance company claimed they could fix our boat for $200,000 to $300,000. I said no and told them I would get Geoff Williams (who I've used before) in Nanny Cay to do a survey on our behalf. Next day they decided to declare it a Total Constructive Loss. May have been a coincidence. But may have been that potential litigation exceeded potential savings.

So, while I can't offer a good attorney, I can encourage them to stand firm.
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