November 4, 2021

World leaders have outlined climate commitments at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland.  Delegates are asked to commit to more ambitious cuts in their countries’ emissions, all in an effort to curb the climate crisis.  From sea levels rising to dangerous hurricanes, the effects of the climate crisis can be felt throughout the Sunshine State.  Specifically, sea levels are projected to rise faster in Florida than the global average.  Florida’s beauty is what makes it paradise but it’s also the more than 1,300 miles of coastline that makes it susceptible to the impacts of climate change.  

As a law firm that aggressively fights to secure insurance coverage for insureds who experience property damage or property loss, we have witnessed firsthand an uptick in Large Loss insurance claims involving flood, windstorms, fire, hailstorms, sinkholes, and tropical storms/hurricanes due to the climate crisis.  

Claude Tankersley, Public Works Administrator for the City of St. Petersburg, Florida explained:  “The Bay is at least eight inches higher than it was back in the 1940s. And eight inches doesn’t sound like a lot, but in such a flat area as we are, eight inches can mean the difference between a street flooding every now and then, or not.”  And that’s not even the worst of it; climate change threatens Florida’s Atlantic coastline, where Miami, Palm Beach, Daytona, and Jacksonville are located, as these cities are among those that are most likely to be affected by climate change.   

Hurricane wind speeds and rainfall rates are likely to increase as the climate continues to warm, which can make insurance more expensive or difficult to obtain.  Cities, roads, railways, ports, and water supplies in Florida are vulnerable to the impacts of storms.  Coastal homes and poorly constructed infrastructure will flood more often as sea levels rise, because storm surges will become higher as well.  As a result, rising sea level is likely to increase flood insurance premiums.

We’ve seen the cost of insurance creeping up with hurricane season progressively worsening each year due to climate change.  HOA fees will likely significantly increase along with the rising cost of insurance.  In general, the laws help insurance companies but leave homeowners more vulnerable, holding policies that offer less protection or without coverage when disaster strikes.  This is why you need a property damage insurance lawyer on your side to counsel you and represent your interests when there’s a loss.  Get in touch with us by calling 813-258-4998.  

The impacts of climate change can be felt throughout Florida but what’s unique is that the climate crisis disproportionately affects low-income communities and communities of color, which have the fewest resources to recover from property damage.  Communities of color and low-income areas in Florida are disproportionately exposed to extreme climate threats, and they are more often located in or near flood-prone areas or toxic waste sites.  The systemic environmental racism that exists in Florida (and elsewhere) is inextricably linked to issues of economic inequality, environmental racism, and climate change.   Florida must invest in equitable climate infrastructure and Corless Barfield Trial Group is committed to working with these communities to help them assess insurance policy language and address insurance disputes over property damage. 

Long-term goals should include investing in resilient infrastructure, building better and stronger, stop developing in risky areas (as in the tragic case of the Surfside Condo Collapse) and get all residents on board for the changes that have to take place. The larger-scale solution is to slow down the physical effects of climate change by pumping fewer emissions into the atmosphere.  But in the here and now, if you experience any type of property damage or property loss, please call us at 813-258-4998.  

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