Envista Forensics

The Science Behind Subrogating Catastrophic Flood Losses

 Tuesday, November 1, 2022

 Matthiesen, Wickert & Lehrer, S.C.

They refer to it simply as ‘The Storms of 98.’ Fierce rains and high tides combined to make San Francisquito Creek overflow its banks at 1 a.m., inundating houses, cars and streets. Firefighters used boats to rescue people trapped in their homes and school buses took evacuees to the Cubberley Community Center for shelter in the predawn hours.

Approximately 1,700 properties in East Palo Alto, Palo Alto and Menlo Park were damaged. Much of the San Francisco Bay area and Alameda County, California were struck by an incredibly strong storm system which had moved on shore the preceding afternoon.

Several days of preceding rainy weather resulted in saturated ground conditions in most areas of the state. Nearly four inches of rain fell in a 24-hour period, resulting in a 100-year flood event in Hayward, California. For miles in all directions, businesses suffered water damage and devastation.

In the midst of it all, on the 520-acre auto auction lot owned by Bay Cities Auto Auction, a Cox Enterprises entity, thousands of cars were being stored on the property and more than 2,210 vehicles suffered severe water damage, resulting in more than $4 million being paid by Transportation Insurance Company and its excess carrier.

Natural disasters, especially major flood losses, remain the nemesis of most insurance carriers. The damages can be astronomical, and the chances of subrogation appear slim when everyone has suffered similar damage. However, when it seems that only God is responsible for sending devastation of such magnitude, it is time for subrogation professionals to roll up their sleeves and get to work.

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