Insurance coverage is top of mind for Florida’s commercial property owners following the damage left from Hurricane Irma.

Building owners had rushed to review their policies to determine whether they had adequate insurance coverage in place in preparation for the storm. caught up with Tom Kersting, president of the insurance services division of Franklin Street, and Nancy Sheinberg, vice president of insurance services, to discuss how insurance providers are helping property owners navigate their Irma policy claims. What pre-hurricane steps did your team take to help expedite the claims process?

Kersting: We spent several days on the front end of Irma communicating with our clients, pushing out proactive risk management tips, encouraging them to review coverages and make sure they had their policies readily available post-storm. This information is provided when our clients bind policies, but it becomes important to “refresh” as a major storm approaches. This year we also developed a variety of digital tools so clients can easily get in touch with us and report claims if they have one.

Sheinberg: What we did before the storm really made a big difference. An emergency claims phone system was set up so clients were getting a call back within minutes of submitting a claim. Franklin Street has also developed a proprietary master policy layered program that can save property owners thousands of dollars both regionally and nationally, while meeting all lender requirements. Hurricane Irma is showing that our insurance coverages are solid, so it gives credence to the program. What type of insurance claims are you getting most frequently?

Sheinberg: What we’re seeing most are trees down and roof damage from fallen trees or water leakage. But we still have many clients in South Florida who haven’t been able to get to their properties to inspect the damage.

Kersting: Much of the damage that has been reported to us has been to our multifamily properties.  Often multifamily assets are wood-framed buildings that are generally not as protected as office buildings.

The majority of our claims are coming from the east side of the state. We still expect more claims to come in, at this point some owners haven’t been able to visit their properties yet.

This is especially the case with out-of-town owners who may have difficulty getting access for a few more days. In other cases, it’s common for owners to be aware of damage but they haven’t decided yet if they want to report a claim or go about funding repairs themselves. What are some important lessons learned from Hurricane Irma?

Kersting: From an insurance stand point, there haven’t been major insurance claims incidents in Florida for over 10 years. An event like Hurricane Irma makes policy holders reevaluate their insurance coverage and take a hard look at their deductible levels.

These are conversations that need to be had, we don’t want our clients to be surprised in a time that they turn to their insurance carrier for help.  We continuously push to educate our clients about their coverage options and show them how their insurance policy will be a valuable tool to protect their balance sheet, not simply an expense burden that appeases a lender.

(There are legal issues involved in filing insurance claims of which you may not be aware. Find out what you must know now to avoid felonies.)


Source: GlobeSt.

Just days after Hurricane Irma lashed downtown Miami and the neighboring Brickell financial district with vicious winds and surging water that took out two construction cranes and flooded major streets, industry players told The Real Deal that the deadly storm largely spared the city’s urban core and coastal communities from catastrophic damage.

Suzanne Amaducci, who leads the real estate group at commercial law firm Bilzin Sumberg, said 1450 Brickell Avenue, the office building where her firm is headquartered, reopened Tuesday morning,

“The power is on and we have air conditioning,” Amaducci said. “If you look at new construction, it withstood the storm very well.”

Carlos Melo, co-founder and principal of the Melo Group — which has developed 12 condo and apartment towers in Miami’s Edgewater, Little Havana and Allapattah neighborhoods — said he weathered Irma at his corporate office, which is on the second floor of his company’s rental building at 425 Northeast 22nd Street.

“We had about one foot of water at ground level,” Melo said. “It only affected the parking area, but it never reached the building. And about an hour-and-a-half after the hurricane passed, the water had receded.”

Melo said none of his buildings sustained extensive damage and that the only major problem is a lack of electricity.

“Nine of our rental buildings are without power and using generators,” Melo said. “The biggest problem is that there are too many downed trees and power lines to pick up.”

The Melo Group currently has two new projects under construction. Aria on the Bay, a 53-story, 648-unit luxury condo tower at 1770 North Bayshore Drive, topped off in May and is scheduled for completion later this year. The firm is also building Square Station, twin 34-story towers at 1424 Northeast Miami Place.

“Both sites are intact and did not sustain damage,” Melo said. “Aria is all glass windows. And none were damaged. The building is intact. The same goes for our neighbors. Square Station, where three construction cranes are currently in operation, was also unscathed. After inspecting the Aria construction site yesterday, we are fully operational again. But work has not begun again at Square Station because we don’t have power there.”

But a pair of projects will have to contend with damage caused by falling cranes. Irma took out the boom from a crane tower at Property Markets Group’s 300 Biscayne Avenue development in downtown Miami and another crane collapsed at the Related Group’s GranParaiso condo tower at 480 Northeast 31st Street.

Ryan Shear, a principal of New York-based PMG, declined comment. Carlos Rosso, president of Related’s condo division, said he couldn’t comment because he was not in Miami to assess the situation at GranParaiso.

A third crane in South Florida also fell at Related’s Auberge Beach Residences and Spa in Fort Lauderdale.  A spokesperson for the project said the crane is “fully contained within the job site,” adding that there was no damage to the tower structure and that power has been restored. The developer and contractor, Moss Construction, are working on a plan to remove the damaged jib, the representative said.

On Wednesday, Moody’s Analytics released a report estimating between $64 billion and $92 billion in property damage and immediate economic lost output caused by Irma, though specific assessments for much of South Florida have not yet emerged. The Florida Keys were battered, with the federal government estimating 90 percent of buildings sustaining damage, but the storm mostly drifted west of Miami.

Chad Warhaft, director of construction and operations for brokerage CREC, said the company’s portfolio of 13 million square feet of commercial space across Florida held up well during Irma.

“Mainly, we are dealing with landscape damage and minor roof leaks,” Warhaft said. “There was a little bit of facade damage at two properties. Other than that, we have been in really good shape.”

Residential developers who spoke to TRD said their projects in Miami were relatively unscathed, and don’t believe the aftermath will have a profound negative impact on their bottom line or construction schedules.

“The 10-story, 81-unit apartment tower at 1657 North Miami Avenue had some stucco fly off and some water intrusion but nothing too severe,” said Nir Shoshani, co-founder and principal of NR Investments, which is developing the Filling Station Lofts in Miami’s Arts & Entertainment District.

His company is also developing Canvas, a 513-unit condo building at 1630 Northeast First Avenue, that has two cranes on site hovering at 425 feet in the air.

“When we started preparing for Irma, we were supposed to be right smack in the middle of its path,” Shoshani said. “There is nothing you can really do to secure those things. On the contrary, you have to let them spin.”

He said crews assessed the site on Monday and he hopes construction on the tower, which has a projected $221 million sellout, will renew before the end of the week. Shoshani said he doesn’t think Irma will cause a major downturn in Miami’s real estate market.

“Miami remains a very attractive place,” Shoshani said. “I also think people forget quickly and it won’t have long term effects on real estate here.”


Source: The Real Deal