Class action filed over insurers delays after Hurricane Maria

SAN JUAN – A class action was filed in the Court of San Juan against several insurance companies, alleging they have failed to make claim payments for Hurricane Maria-related losses.

According to the lawsuit, policyholders filed more than 100,000 claims for the losses and suffered additional damages due to the “unfair” practices of the insurers.

“In order to delay the investigation, adjustment, resolution and payment of the claims, the insurers sued…established unreasonable, unjustified and unfair delaying practices. These practices were implemented in the process of adjustment and resolution of the claim and are common to the whole class,” the 38-page suit states.

The legal document says the insurance industry has been lucrative for decades, adding that property and contingency insurance represent more than 13 percent of the total premiums written in Puerto Rico.

It also states that Insurance Commissioner Office data reflect that “for 2016, the country’s property and contingency segment underwrote net premiums in excess of $1.748 billion. The insurers of the country in this segment underwrote from these premiums about $1.528 billion. The same year, insurers in the country earned premiums in excess of $1.533 billion while paying losses of just over $630 million.”

In 2016, the loss ratio experienced in property and contingency was 56.5 percent, which is less than the 72.9 percent observed in the United States. The demand also indicates that in 2017 the situation was not different.

The lawsuit was filed by EMJ Properties Inc.; Dr. Jesús Manuel Salgueiro, Bravo Ramírez Building Inc.; Dr. Luis E. Santini; D’Mart Institute Inc.; Next Level Puerto Rico LLC; VR Enterprise Inc.; Necco Inc.; XYZ Corp.; and others.

The defendants are MAPFRE Panamerican Insurance Co.; MAPFRE PRAICO Insurance Co.; MAPFRE Preferred Risk Insurance Domestic Co.; Triple S Property Inc.; One Alliance Insurance Corp.; AIG Insurance Co.-Puerto Rico; Multinational Insurance Co.; Real Legacy Assurance Co.; QBE Optima Insurance Co.; Integrand Assurance Co.; United Surety & Indemnity Co.; Antilles Insurance Co.; Caribbean American Property Domestic Insurance Co.; and Cooperativa de Seguros Múltiples de Puerto Rico.

The plaintiffs are represented by Sepulvado Maldonado & Couret.

As a result of this situation with the claims submitted to insurers, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló introduced several measures in the legislature.