Florida Insurer Launches New Effort to Reduce Expensive Litigation

Water Damage, Polaroid Camera

According to an article in the Sun Sentinel Times published in the Sunday newspaper, July 6, 2014, Citizens Insurance Corporation has faced an onslaught of customer lawsuits related to water damage claims. Half of all claims state-wide for Citizens are water-related, and in a 42 month period, they averaged 385 disputed water claims per month.

The Citizens report cited in the article reveals that 96% of all lawsuits related to water damage originated in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties over the last few years, costing the insurer $135.5 million in litigation fees over a five year period. The article states that many claims are resolved satisfactorily to both the owner and the insurer before getting to court, but even these have involved costly fees.

The article states:

Most often, water-loss claims result from leakage or breaks in a home’s plumbing….The legal disputes drive up Citizens’ costs, which leads to higher premiums for customers.

This has led to the creation of a Citizens team, stationed in South Florida, whose mission is to resolve water claims without litigation whenever possible. This specialized team will try to reduce the number of claims that end up in our costly adversarial court system.

Christine Ashuburn, Vice President of communications related to legislative and external affairs had this to say:

Staff in South Florida will give Citizens the ability to provide a higher level of training on policy language and estimated damages that will result in better claims decisions.

The article highlights a frequent point of contention in water damage claims: long-term leaks. “Citizens’ policies require homeowners to report damages within 14 days of a pipe’s breaking or other leakage.” It is important for homeowners to understand their policy language and report claims within the contractual framework of the policy. Long-term damage such as dry rot or wood decay is not covered under Citizens’ current policy language, according to the article.

Over the last year, Omega Forensic Engineering has conducted its own controlled study of water damage, and has succeeded in identifying characteristics of water damage common to different types of wood products, based on the duration and repetition of their exposure to water. This data gives Omega’s engineers a valuable objective basis on which to estimate the age of claimed water damage.

Omega Forensic Engineering is in the process of developing a certified class on water damage that will be offered to insurance adjusters for CE credits.

Sign up for our newsletter here if you would like to be kept informed of these exciting developments.

SFCA 2nd Annual Fishing Tournament

Last month several members of the Omega team hit the waters for some team bonding and little fishery!

VIP’s guide discusses the catch with Mark and Jeremy Knysh and Omega engineer, Greg Loomis.

Pointing the way to the big catch!

Pointing the way to the big catch!

Chartering a boat from VIP Fishing Charters, we joined in the second annual South Florida Claims Association fishing tournament.

Anglers in, perfect weather and water for a day on the ocean.

A peek in the ice box!

A peek in the ice box!

Dipping in at the Hillsborough Inlet in Pompano Beach, six of us set out to hook something to cook.

John Heitz bringing in a fighter!

Jamey reeling in some mahi mahi!

Jamey Bennett reeling in some mahi mahi!

In attendance were Omega’s president Andrew Knysh, Senior Engineer Greg Loomis, staff members Mark Knysh, Jeremy Knysh, and Jamey Bennett, and outside consultant, General Contractor John Heitz.

The fishing team: Greg Loomis, John Heitz, Mark Knysh, Jeremy Knysh, Andrew Knysh, and Jamey Bennett.

The fishing team (L to R): Greg Loomis, John Heitz, Mark Knysh, Jeremy Knysh, Andrew Knysh, and Jamey Bennett.

It couldn’t have been a more perfect day for fishing. The water was calm, the sky was clear, and the fish were biting. We didn’t catch anything huge, but we did get some tasty mahi mahi!

The day's catch made for some great eating.

The day’s catch made for some good eating.

Afterward, we went back to the Longpointe Country Club for a luncheon with the other participants. And then we made tacos!

Jamey’s sriracha tacos!

Windstorm 2014

Omega Forensic Engineering

Omega is exhibiting in booth #307 at Windstorm 2014!

Come meet Andrew M. Knysh, P.E. and other staff members from Omega Forensic Engineering, Inc. at the 15th Anniversary Windstorm Insurance Conference in Orlando, January 27-30, 2014, held at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel.

For decades, Omega Forensic has proven to be a reliable voice in the world of forensic investigations in Florida. Now meet the folks who made it happen.

We’ll be in booth 307. Come by and say hi if you get a chance. See the layout of the exhibit hall here.



New Course: Evaluating Floor Tile Claims

Example of Tile Damage

For Immediate Release

New Course for Claims Adjusters from Omega Forensic Engineering, Inc.

Evaluating Floor Tile Claims gives adjusters everything they need to know about tile floor damage, and earns them Continuing Education credits for the State of Florida—at no cost to them.

Parkland, Florida, United States (October 10, 2013) — Among the most common claims made in property insurance are those for floor tile damage. Adjusters must  address multiple potential concerns when assessing these claims—and this class was created to help them do just that.

Evaluating Floor Tile Claims covers an array of topics, including:

  • An Overview of Floor Tile Types and Manufacturing
  • Proper Installation of Floor Tiles
  • Floor Tile Bond Failure
  • Moisture Damage to Tile Floors
  • Damage to Tiles over Wood-Framed Floors
  • Characteristics of Surface Damage

Students learn exactly how tiles are made, installed and damaged—and how this knowledge can be used when evaluating tile damage claims. The course includes hands-on demonstrations that show what kind of damage can be caused by ordinary household objects.

Andy Knysh CaricatureAndrew M. Knysh, P.E., the course facilitator, is president and lead investigator for Omega Forensic Engineering, a firm of  engineers in Florida with decades of experience in forensic investigations of both residential and commercial damage. He has personally conducted more than 3500 investigative projects dealing with both engineering and construction-related issues, including building structure and finish damage, construction defects, personal injury, product liability and repair recommendations.

Mr. Knysh is accredited by the state of Florida to teach this course, which has been designed to assist those who hold a Florida insurance adjuster license in completing part of the 24 hours of Continuing Education required biannually, as well as giving them valuable knowledge about the best ways to deal with this very common category of claims.

Evaluating Floor Tile Claims is free of charge. Omega Forensic is now booking classes for this important course.

Media Contact:
Name: Jamey Bennett, Director of Product Development at Omega Forensic Engineering, Inc.
Phone: 615-336-1807
Email: jbennett@omegaforensic.com
Website: https://www.omegaforensic.com

Press Release: New Website & Social Media Presence

OmegaForensic Avatar

For Immediate Release

Omega Forensic Engineering, Inc. is now online—a new way to get in touch for true forensic engineering expertise in the world of damage investigations

The most trusted name in residential and commercial forensic investigation services in Florida, Omega Forensic has made it easier than ever for customers to reach them with their newly launched website and social media connections.

Parkland, FL (September 9, 2013): In the muddy waters of forensic insurance investigation, Omega Forensic Engineering, Inc. is a company of excellence you can rely on. A Florida-based company that has been in business for decades, Omega Forensic is bringing a new, tech savvy approach to their communication that will serve customers’ needs better than ever before.

Omega Forensic is now reaching prospective and current customers through their new website, www.omegaforensic.com, as well as through social media sites Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, where they are offering regular updates with interesting and useful nuggets of information to their followers regarding forensic investigation for both property owners and insurers in the difficult waters of the insurance claim process.

The new website also features an exciting blog which has been created with the purpose of keeping customers in the know about important news and damage-related information pertaining to forensic inspections.

Omega is a professional engineering firm providing technical support to insurers, adjusters, attorneys, owners and property managers. A variety of services are provided by Omega Forensic Engineering, Inc., all of which are described in detail on the new website. Water damage and mold, personal injury, flooring damage, roof damage, fire and electrical damage, plumbing failures, structural damage, construction defects and other such unfortunate events are all candidates for investigation. Their team of engineers begins work as soon as possible after an incident, gathering data and recording their observations on site. Once they have gauged all the evidence, the cause of damage or failure can be determined and an expert opinion about the damage in question is provided in the form of an illustrated, comprehensive, full-color report.

From residential to commercial inspections, the team at Omega Forensic Engineering, Inc. is known for their technical expertise, their objectivity, and their clear and concise opinions. They look forward to connecting with you for your damage-related investigation needs.

Media Contact:
Name: Jamey Bennett, Director of Product Development at Omega Forensic Engineering, Inc.
Phone:  615-336-1807
Email: jbennett@omegaforensic.com
Website: https://www.omegaforensic.com