Climate change creates new legal and insurance challenges and other news

Published by
Peter Kavinsky

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This is the second part of a two-part series on the impact of climate change on the legal industry and other businesses. The first part can be read here. I’m Rachel Lyn, you can contact me by phone [email protected].

Long-term changes in temperature and weather patterns on our planet are taking shape, and this presents many threats and opportunities for litigants, insurance professionals and business owners.

According to experts, those who prepare and adapt now will be in the best position to thrive in the future. Here’s what to consider.

Insurance ramifications

One industry that is already experiencing problems due to climate change is the insurance sector, which is increasingly moving away from Florida due to its vulnerability.

Insurance broker Joseph Gendelman said there are fears that parts of South Florida could end up following the path of California, where entire cities are now uninsured due to fire risk.

“We are in a critical situation with the insurance markets where people do not realize that in a year their rates will be significantly higher,” Gendelman said.

Some carriers are no longer writing policies for properties east of I-95 in Miami, while others are requiring property upgrades. That’s according to insurance lawyer Gina Clausen Lozier of Berger Singerman, who said lawsuits will rise due to the effects of climate change.

Therefore, it is better to address this problem in advance by retrofitting old facilities and carefully selecting new ones based on their baseline flood heights and wind mitigation reports.

“One of the things that businesses really need to understand is how to properly value their property with the increase in the cost of repairs, with the increase in the value of the property and things like that,” said Clausen Lozier. “If your property is not properly valued on the policy, it will lead to a lot of problems.”

Lawsuits are underway

There is a growing demand for greater disclosure of climate risk information, especially for off-market buyers. That’s according to Erin Dady, a Delray Beach attorney and certified land planner who advises the real estate sector and government agencies on sea level rise preparations.

“If you are a person and pay taxes in your community, you don’t want to have to drive through 13 inches of salt water 30 days a year to get to your property,” Dady said. “It’s the kind of thing where people come to the local government and say, ‘Hey, we pay taxes. We expect our tires to dry. We expect you to take care of this flood.”

Dady said it’s critical that the real estate industry and property owners work in tandem with the public sector because “the local government isn’t going to come in and build a taller sea wall in your backyard.”

“This is your property. This will be your responsibility, whether you own a commercial property, a marina, a hotel, whoever you are, or just a regular citizen of Joe, you will be responsible for adapting your property.” – Dady said.

According to Mark Tobin of Tobin & Schreiber, there will also be serious problems with domains.

“I bow to state structures that really think about [climate change]because it’s real, not ignore it. At the same time, they must respect the right to private property. Otherwise, the owner, in a sense, bears a disproportionate burden for the public good, and this is simply not right, and we will not allow this.

Hamptons Group Chairman and Managing Director Geoffrey Bartel explained that installing a barrier to prevent water from entering one location could inadvertently divert flood waters onto someone else’s property.

“I think we will have quite a lot of litigation over the next 10 to 30 years due to property owners alleging that another property owner has negatively impacted the usability of their property, or perhaps that the look or feel of it has been altered. . difficult due to infrastructure,” Bartel said. “What happens if there is a public works project that is expected to mitigate the effects of flooding in an area, but in fact it is a failed project and there are problems?”

$1 mitigation

According to Eric Salna, meteorologist and associate director of education and outreach for the Institute for Extreme Events and the International Hurricane Center at Florida International University in Miami, investing in climate resilience will pay off in the future.

“Today, $1 in mitigation is at least $7 to $8 in damage and cleanup,” he said.

Flood and hurricane preparation should also be an important consideration for commercial clients, Salna said.

“After the event, if a big hurricane comes through, there is no electricity, there is nothing, but you are the first donut shop to open because you have generator power, you have staff who prepared at home as part of your business. plan and they’re ready to go and they knew how to start the generators and open this donut shop where all these insurance agents and FEMA and EMS people are going to go and get something to eat? … If they are not ready to work after that, it will cost them dearly.”

At Schwartz Media Strategies, Aaron Gordon represents various companies, investors, developers and public sector clients, and he says clients often ask how they should communicate to the public about climate change in South Florida.

Gordon said he thinks it’s good for business leaders to openly discuss problems and solutions as it signals to global investors that the community is taking the situation seriously.

“We have been living with climate change for 150 years. It’s in our DNA,” Gordon said. “We are a resourceful, innovative community. This is what we do, and if any community in the world is going to rise up and be an example of how to develop regional responsibility, I think it’s South Florida.”

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