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September 29, 2023 Book Review

A Legal Guide to Recovering for Flood Losses

Reviewed by Mario S. Russo

A Legal Guide to Recovering for Flood Losses, by Douglas Scott Macgregor

Hurricane season has arrived, with Hurricane Idalia already having wreaked havoc throughout the southeastern United States and additional storms likely to follow. As these events seemingly increase in frequency and severity, they remind us that the next big natural disaster could strike at any moment, causing both devastation and disruptions in its path. Floods are no exception and, in fact, represent the most frequent and costly natural disasters, causing billions of dollars in damage annually. Unfortunately, numerous sources, including the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), predict flooding will continue to increase in both frequency and severity during this century, making both flood insurance and flood recovery resources critically important. Until recently, few resources existed focusing specifically on maximizing recovery for flood losses, often forcing attorneys handling flood-related claims to consult several treatises for guidance. Fortunately, A Legal Guide to Recovering for Flood Losses remedies that problem by offering practitioners a single, comprehensive resource to help navigate the often-murky waters of flood-related insurance claims and other sources of recovery.

Written by Douglas Scott MacGregor, author of numerous authoritative works, including the New Appleman on Insurance Law Library Edition’s flood insurance chapter, A Legal Guide to Recovering for Flood Losses serves as a compendium of the law on recovery for flood-related losses and damage. The book’s fifteen well-researched chapters address virtually every type of flood-related insurance claim as well as potential claims against various tortfeasors, whether or not insured, involving flood losses and damage.

Chapter one provides a useful general overview of the book, including relevant flood-related statistics and definitions, and a road map for navigating the book’s various topics and chapters. By the end of the second chapter, readers will have gained a basic understanding of flood- and water-related exclusions and limitations found in standard commercial and residential property insurance policies, including how to identify them and what they mean. Chapters three through eleven identify and address potential recovery for flood- and water-related damages and losses under various types of insurance policies, including standard property policies, private flood policies, FEMA-backed flood policies, policies providing business interruption and related coverages, builder’s risk policies, boiler and machinery or equipment breakdown policies, commercial general liability policies, directors and officers policies and automobile policies.

While focusing primarily on insurance-based recovery for flood-related losses, the book addresses other potential avenues of recovery. Chapter 12, for example, addresses circumstances in which an insurance broker or agent might bear liability for failing to procure requested insurance coverage for flood- or water-related damage. Chapter 13 addresses landlord-tenant claims involving flood losses and damage, including those arising from commercial lease agreements. Chapter 14 discusses potential recovery from governmental entities whose negligence causes flooding or water damage. Chapter 15, lastly, addresses whether and how recovery for flood-related losses might be available from weather forecasters and those who fail to warn of weather-related dangers.

With flooding expected only to worsen as a result of climate change, developing a comprehensive strategy for maximizing flood loss recovery will become more important than ever. Fortunately, attorneys handling claims involving flood losses need not flounder around in unfamiliar waters, trying to navigate recovery efforts. A Legal Guide to Recovering for Flood Losses serves as a one-stop resource for assisting clients facing flood losses and damage, which is why I recommend it to all practitioners, both novice and experienced, and especially those serving clients in areas in which flooding occurs regularly.

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Mario S. Russo

McCarter & English, LLP

Mario S. Russo is an attorney in the Insurance Recovery, Litigation & Counseling practice group at McCarter & English, LLP, where he represents corporate policyholders. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief of TortSource. He also serves as a vice-chair of the TIPS Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Committee, as an associate editor of the Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal, and on the TIPS Content Management and Outreach to Young Lawyers Standing Committees.

The views expressed in this review are those of the author and not necessarily those of the firm or its clients.