The 2024 Atlantic hurricane season began on June 1, and TSR (Tropical Storm Risk) forecasts 17 to 25 named storms this year. In weathering these storms, many businesses will face property losses, often accompanied by business income losses. Most commercial property policies incorporate business interruption coverage and extra expense insurance. The complexity of a business interruption claim, however, combined with the disruption of cash flow to pay continuing expenses creates a difficult scenario for business owners in these situations. 

In general, business interruption and extra expense losses may be covered when they are caused by physical loss or damage to covered property, other covered conditions such as damage to a “dependent business,” or an order of the civil authority, such as an evacuation order, as defined in the policy. There may also be limitations on coverage, such as for power loss occurring outside the covered property, among others.

Continue Reading Preparing a Business Interruption Claim Best Practices

Businesses today must plan for more than just supply and demand. Hurricanes, floods, fires, and other potential hazards pose serious threats to businesses everywhere.

With any disaster or hazard, the need for timely and proper communication is vital. The tools and information provided below are available to help businesses stay prepared and access critical information before, during and after a disaster.

Ready.gov

StayLocal.org (New Orleans)

Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (Louisiana)

Ready Alabama (Alabama)

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (Mississippi)

FloridaDisaster.org (Florida)

Texas Ready (Texas)

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The annual hurricane season is once again upon us. With the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration’s prediction of a higher-than-average active season, now is the time for businesses to review their internal policies and make any necessary preparations should a storm impact your area.

By their very nature, disasters are unpredictable. But it is possible to prepare for and recover from such unforeseen events. During a crisis, information is a businesses’ most important tool and clear, timely client communications are our top priority. Jones Walker’s cross-disciplinary Disaster Preparedness & Recovery Client Team advises companies, not-for-profit organizations, and individuals as they prepare for, respond to, and recover from unforeseen crises. We understand the myriad legal issues that arise when drafting, communicating, and implementing disaster-preparedness plans, and have extensive experience representing clients as they work through the aftermath of a major event.

Continue Reading Natural Disaster Preparedness – Serving Clients Through Disasters

On Thursday, June 15, the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles (OMV) experienced a data security breach resulting in the loss of the personal information of potentially millions of Louisianans due to a global cyberattack involving the exploitation by hackers of a vulnerability in MOVEit Transfer, an electronic file transfer tool developed by Progress Software. In a press release, the OMV announced that it suspects the personal data of all individuals who possess a Louisiana state-issued driver’s license, ID, or car registration may have been exposed to the criminal cyber attackers, a ransomware gang known as “Clop.”

Continue Reading Louisiana OMV Data Breach – How Should You Respond?

As they weather this year’s storm season, many businesses will experience property damage, often accompanied by business income losses. Most commercial general liability policies will provide business interruption coverage and extra expense insurance as an adjunct to property coverage. However, the complexity of a business interruption claim coupled with a pressing need for operating capital often combine to create a difficult scenario for business owners in these situations.

Cove Geary and Tyler Rench authored the article “Best Practices for Preparing a Business Interruption Claim,” featured in Risk Management Magazine highlighting some recommended industry “best practices” that can help smooth the business interruption insurance claims process and maximize recovery.

Click here to learn some industry best practices that can help smooth the business interruption insurance claims process and maximize recovery.

The 2022 Hurricane Season begins June 1st and continues through November 30th. For those in the maritime industry, it is strongly encouraged to review your existing hurricane plan or develop a plan if one is not already in place. Having a plan in place not only helps companies to minimize risk, but it also gives vessel owners and operators the opportunity to be prepared to evacuate as necessary.

Click here for a recent MSIB released by the United States Coast Guard providing preparations for the 2022 hurricane season.

In the event a disaster does occur, members of our maritime emergency and casualty response team are always on call to respond to and investigate any type of incident.

The Louisiana Insurance Commissioner has issued Rule 22 for Hurricane Ida which allows policyholders an opportunity to mediate disputes with underwriters for claims up to $50,000. This is a streamlined approach where each side submits a position paper and meets with an assigned mediator at no cost to the insured. Notice of this program and relevant information is available on the Louisiana Department of Insurance website here.

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on blue sea near the coast
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Disputes arising in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) following Hurricane Ida can be subject to three bodies of law: maritime law, federal law under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), and state law, whether surrogate federal law under the OCSLA or within territorial waters. Jurisdiction for claims arising in the GOM is generally a federal question under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 subject to the saving to suitors clause in certain maritime-related claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1333(1). Jurisdictional issues can be complicated and fact-based where maritime and non-maritime “services” are “mixed,” as discussed in Baker v. Hercules Offshore, Inc., 706 F.3d 680 (5th Cir. 2013).

The Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), as defined, consists of submerged lands, subsoil, and seabed in a specified zone up to 200 or more nautical miles seaward of the adjacent states’ jurisdiction. The OCSLA, 43 U.S.C. § 1331, et seq., regulating OCS operations extends federal jurisdiction to OCS operations and resources under 43 U.S.C. § 1349(b). Likewise, the OCSLA extends the benefits conferred by the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) to employees working on the OCS.

Continue Reading Offshore Jurisdictional Issue Primer

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As property owners shift their focus to repairing damages from Hurricane Ida, they should not lose their focus when it comes to the less apparent concerns that come with engaging contractors. Entities, like the Louisiana State Contractor Licensing Board, provide a certain level of protection to the consumer; however, caveat emptor (“let the buyer beware”) should still always be in the back of the minds of property owners as they navigate the path to recovery. The checklist below is provided to assist in this process.

Continue Reading Hurricane Ida Checklist for Louisiana Homeowners—Contracting for Repair of Disaster Damage

Hurricane Ida brought strong winds, flooding, and mass destruction along the Louisiana coast. Although the Gulf South is no stranger to hard-hitting storms, each disaster brings a new set of obstacles for property owners and homeowners.

With the recovery process underway, many residents are still struggling to find the resources needed to rebuild or protect their investments. Information on possible funding, temporary housing, and other assistance is available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other organizations. But if you own a flood-impacted property, you may face other significant and perhaps more long-term questions such as: What can you do now to protect the value — including the resale value — of your property?

A key factor in protecting your property value will be how well you can demonstrate to prospective purchasers, appraisers, inspectors, lenders, insurers, and others that the storm-related damage was properly repaired or otherwise addressed and that you took the proper steps to limit post-storm damage.

Although laws differ throughout the Southeast, we suggest that the following steps be taken to help ensure you are protecting your property value:

  • Step 1: Notify Your Insurance Company and FEMA — Involve your insurance and FEMA adjusters in the process as early as possible, ideally before conducting demolition, rebuilding, or remodeling work.
  • Step 2: Prevent Further Damage — Take steps to prevent post-storm damage, such as patching or tarping damaged roofs, boarding up broken windows, and removing and storing salvageable items.
  • Step 3: Document the Damage — Take photos or videos of the damage, and make a list of damaged items.
  • Step 4: Make and Document the Repairs — Air out the property and remove damaged carpet, flooring, sheetrock, and other porous items. Follow the local ordinances, and obtain all required permits when making repairs. Keep a file that includes purchase orders or invoices, permits, agreements with contractors, and similar documents, and maintain a summary of the actions taken.
  • Step 5: Perform Mold Assessment and Remediation — Consider obtaining a mold assessment and, if necessary, mold remediation. Be sure contractors who conduct mold remediation or apply biocides are properly licensed, and retain related documentation in your file.
  • Step 6: Compose a Seller’s Disclosure — Disclose flood, mold, and other issues to prospective purchasers as required by state law and as a matter of good faith.

Additional tips and strategies can be found through the Jones Walker Disaster Preparedness & Recovery blog, including past articles Steps One, Two…Now What Do I Do? Protecting Your Property Value and After the Flood—Strategies for Protecting the Value of Your Home.

Further information is also available at the following regulatory agency links: