Upcoming Miami Seminar: Consulting Engineering Services in Latin America – Managing the local regulations and Idiosyncrasies.

Overhead view of construction workers and engineers at construction site

Please join us on next Tuesday April 17 at Novecento Brickell where Gino Valderrama, District Manager at Rimkus Consulting Group, Inc will be speaking about the working environment and challenges for engineers from USA working in Latin America, the issues with logistics and dealing with local regulations, codes and other idiosyncrasies of each country to investigate and prepare reports for their clients. Several case studies will be highlighted to demonstrate the potential pitfalls normally encountered.

Gino Valderrama

Mr Valderrama is a licensed Professional Engineer with more than twenty-six years of diversified mechanical engineering design, project management and consulting experience. He completed his BSME from Florida International University in 1991 and his J.D. in 1997 at The University of Miami.  Professional experience includes his role as Vice President and Operations Manager for the Miami, Caribbean and Latin American Division of T.Y. Lin International for over 13 years.  He has over 26 years of experience in all aspects of engineering and construction, dealing with issues of Civil, Structural, MEP and Fire Protection. His experience encompasses a broad range of capabilities including project management, design of plumbing, fire protection, life safety systems, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, computer modeling, analysis, design and life cycle cost analysis.  Responsibilities have included general office management, project management and design of complex building facilities.

Mr. Valderrama was born in La Punta Peru and migrated to Miami in 1976.  He attended Columbus High School in Miami.  He has been married to Conchy Valderrama a Mechanical Engineer for thirty one years and has a twenty two year old daughter Isabella a teacher.

Date: April 17, 2018


5:15 pm Registration

5.30 pm Conference

6:00 pm Informal discussion

6:15 pm Networking

Where: Malbec Room of Novecento 1414 Brickell Ave, MIAMI, FL 33131

Registration deadline: April 16, 2018 at 1:00PM. Only 40 available tickets.

To register, please send an email to: hilda.welcker@kennedyslaw.com

Casual attire. Cost for this event: Free


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Upcoming Women in (Re)Insurance Event in Miami


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Preliminary Program: 2018 Miami Latin American Claims (Re)Insurance Forum

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Kennedys and QLDG are proud to present the preliminary program of the 2018 Miami Latin American Claims (Re)Insurance Forum. As in previous years, the Forum will bring together key International and Latin American industry experts who will be analyzing top claims issues and developments in Latin America & the Caribbean. Topics and case studies are carefully chosen based on current affairs and the feedback received by professionals from the (re)insurance industry.

As a novelty, besides the participation of a few technical reinsurance brokers, simultaneous translation in Spanish and English will be available to both, speakers and delegates, and breakout sessions at the end of each day for those who would like to discuss further any of the topics of each day.

2018 Claims Forum Preliminary Program

Thank you to Advanta, Cunningham Lindsey, Envista Forensics, Rimac, RTS, Thornton Tomasetti and TransRe for having confirmed their sponsorship. For additional sponsorship and speaker opportunities please contact us.

TO REGISTER CLICK HERE using the code: FORUM2018

For information about the Forum, please contact us:

Juan E. Lopez-Santini: jlopez@qldg.com

Alex Guillamont: alex.guillamont@kennedyslaw.com

Hilda Welcker: hilda.welcker@kennedyslaw.com


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Five lessons that 2017’s hurricane season has taught the yacht claims market

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There is virtually no yacht insurer or reinsurer that has not been impacted by the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, although some have seen far more significant losses than others. The combined effects of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Jose will, no doubt, be felt for years to come with major losses to be posted for the yacht market at large and a resulting increase in yacht premiums, which were at unprecedented lows going into this year’s hurricane season.

Lesson one

While one might think that the greatest effect on the insurance market would have been in the super/mega yacht category – where hull values often exceed US$75 million or more – this was the segment least impacted by the 2017 hurricane season. The simple explanation for this is that mega/super yachts have the crew, range and financial resources to cruise out of harm’s way long before trouble makes landfall. Accordingly, the first lesson learned is that the super/mega yacht market remains a safe market segment for insurers.

Lesson two

The smaller hulls and mid-size yachts did not fair quite as well as the mega/super yacht sector, with major losses sustained in each category. Losses, surprisingly, were not attributable to non-compliance with hurricane plans filed with their insurers. Instead, the hurricane plans, which seemed prudent, cautious and safe on presentation with insurance applications, were often no match for Category 4 or 5 hurricane winds and accompanying storm surges or for Category 1 or 2 storms with greater than anticipated storm surges.

For example, in Miami, Hurricane Irma was expected to make landfall as a Category 5 storm, but actually made landfall as a Category 1 storm but with higher than anticipated storm surges. The storm surges, in turn, caused multiple mooring failures, ‘safe’ marina losses and even damage to boats on the hard which were hauled in advance of the storm.

Accordingly, the second lesson learned is that hurricane plans need to transition from an insurance application requirement to plans which will actually protect the vessels they were intended to safeguard.

Lesson three

The survey, repair and salvage world was not ready for such an active hurricane season and the volume of losses encountered. The total devastation in the US and British Virgin Islands and other yacht friendly locations in the Caribbean rendered them inaccessible after the storm, making it extremely difficult to dispatch surveyors to the areas where they were most needed. Equally, once many vessels were declared hurricane CTL’s, insurers were unprepared for the scale of the salvage and disposal encountered.

As such, while insurers learned that hurricane plans were often not as effective as anticipated, they concurrently learned their own ability to quickly and effectively respond and salvage in areas of total devastation was equally flawed.

Lesson four

The fourth lesson learned, and a lesson in progress so to speak, is the impact on the insurance placement market thousands of miles from the nearest disaster zones. One major coverholder in the Northeast US has announced that it is leaving the yacht market in its entirety and focusing on their pre-existing lines of business. How this will be absorbed by the market remains unknown and speculative at best, but it is likely that placement may be affected in the short term, making it more difficult for the smaller and mid-size yacht owners to secure necessary coverage.

Lesson five

Lesson five, which is also a lesson whose final chapters have not yet been written, is whether the insurers who incurred the greatest losses will have the same appetite to write yachts at pre-2017 volumes and capacity. Regardless of some groups’ denial of global warming and its impact on Atlantic hurricanes, scientists agree that the hurricane activity seen in 2017 may be the new norm rather than an anomaly.


Perhaps the one positive for the insurance market at large is that rates which have been soft for many years will certainly increase, which should enable yacht accounts to become even more profitable. This will be coupled with a recalibration of underwriters’ hurricane plan requirements and efficacy, with underwriters demanding safer and more proactive hurricane safety protocols as a prerequisite to binding coverage.

Like any casualty involving mass losses, the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season may be viewed as a learning experience. A tough and costly lesson, certainly, but one which will enable a more stable yacht insurance market to emerge in the future.

By Neil Bayer, Partner of US Practice at Kennedys.

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Upcoming Miami Seminar: Puerto Rico, a road to recovery


While natural catastrophes are never welcome news, they are part and parcel of the insurance industry. And as devoted servants of that industry, it is imperative to be prepared to offer relief as residents, communities and businesses begin the task of putting life back together. As insurers and service providers send teams to the islands to assist insureds in evaluating and filing claims, the claims management process becomes fraught with logistical nightmares that if, unprepared for, can bring the resolution process to a dead halt.

Please join us on January 30 at Novecento Brickell as Carlos Rivera, CFE, MAFF, and partner in the Miami office of RGL Forensics, a global forensic accounting and consulting firm explores the difficulties associated with providing claims support in a CAT situation. Items to be discussed include: wide-area damage, utilities interruption, interdependency, contingent business interruption, logistical issues, ingress/egress, among others.

Date: January 30 2018

5:15 pm Registration

5.30 pm Conference

6:00 pm Informal discussion

6:15 pm Networking

Where: Malbec Room of Novecento 1414 Brickell Ave, MIAMI, FL 33131

Registration deadline: January 29 2018 at 1:00PM. Only 40 available tickets.

To register, please send an email to: hilda.welcker@kennedyslaw.com

Casual attire. Cost for this event: Free

Rivera-Carlos-Side-Web-2016Carlos Rivera is a Partner at RGL and is highly experienced in the review, analysis and measurement of US and international business interruption and property losses as well as disputes for clients in the insurance and legal markets. Carlos has evaluated economic damages in claims from a variety of industries: energy, manufacturing, mining, hospitality, pharmaceuticals, retail, logistics and distribution, and construction.

Carlos is fluent in English and Spanish and has extensive experience with claims in the US, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Colombia, Honduras and Ecuador.

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Cuba sanctions, a new era in the relationship between Cuba and the United States?

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We are firmly in Stage 2 of the new era in the relationship between Cuba and the United States. On 16 June 2017, US President Donald Trump finally unveiled his agenda regarding Cuba.

Trump instructed the Treasury to issue regulations that:

  • will end individual people-to-people travel1; and
  • prohibit economic, commercial and financial transactions between US and local companies linked to the Cuban Armed Forces, the Business Administration Group (GAESA in Spanish) and intelligence, and/or security services.

On 8 November 2017, almost five months after the President’s announcement in June2, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) implemented changes to the Cuba sanctions program, which took effect on 9 November.

In order to ensure that US business do not trade with the Cuban military, the State Department issued a list of Cuban entities and sub entities with which direct transactions will not be authorized2 with a main impact on the tourism sector since it includes 84 hotels throughout the island, as well as two tourism agencies, five marinas and some companies related with the armed and Cuban military forces.

The new sanctions package, aside from establishing a general rule of denying licenses to export items for use of the entities on the list, enhances travel restrictions to better enforce the statutory ban on United States tourism to Cuba. The new sanctions package keeps US trips to Cuba for personal visits or study reasons, but determines that such trips should be supported by a sponsoring organization. However, for these trips to be authorized, the regulations determine that travellers will have to be accompanied by a person under the jurisdiction of the United States who is a representative of the sponsoring organization.

Individual trips without educational or academic reasons will no longer be authorized. Cuban-Americans will be able to continue to visit their family in Cuba and send them remittances3.

How do these changes affect companies in the US?

Domestic investment in Cuba, is largely military and state driven and the impact may be greater than it appears. For example in the construction business, Army sponsored real estate group Inmobiliaria Almest in partnership with the local subsidiary of the French construction company Bouygues, has developed almost all of the hotels erected in the past 20 years4.

Cuba continues to modestly invest in infrastructure and after the development of Mariel Exclusive Zone as discussed in previous articles5 it has now commissioned the expansion of the José Martí International Airport in Havana, the first foreign contract awarded by Cuba in the airport business6.

Moving forward, any US company will have to be authorized by the US Government (OFAC)7 to trade with companies linked to the Cuban military. Non-US companies, regardless of where they trade from, may be subject to the Helms-Burton Act8 which extended the territorial application of the initial embargo to apply to foreign companies trading with Cuba, and penalised foreign companies dealing with properties formerly owned by U.S. citizens but confiscated after the Cuban revolution. In other words, international companies trading with Cuba and the US might still needs to tread carefully in order to avoid fines by the latter.

Will there be any changes for the insurance-reinsurance sector?

Cuba, in order to circumvent the US embargo, places all its reinsurance through London market brokers, and the vast majority of reinsurers accepting Cuban risks are European. Every year, ESICUBA9 (Seguros Internacionales de Cuba S.A.) requests that brokers and reinsurers confirm their legal status regarding their US jurisdiction connections. Cuban authorities take the view that Lloyd´s of London, as a British domiciled entity, is not subject to US regulations and agrees to use Lloyds capacity for the reinsurance of their risks.


  • The announced changes to curtail the type of local companies that US companies can trade with.
  • The forthcoming regulations will be prospective and thus, they will not affect authorized transactions under existing specific licenses for travellers nor for those US companies previously approved.
  • Whilst the category of restrictions appears small, the impact could be countless because the main target is the Cuban military which controls the majority of the local infrastructure that could benefit from foreign investments for much needed upgrades, which would also need reinsurance capacity abroad.

 1 Among the 12 categories that currently allow US citizens to travel to Cuba, educational/people to people exchange, which is currently the most-broad group, allowing US citizens to travel the island to interact and engage with the Cuban people.

 2 https://www.state.gov/e/eb/tfs/spi/cuba/cubarestrictedlist/275331.htm

 3 https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2017/06/16/fact-sheet-cuba-policy


5 https://insuranceprofessionalsmiami.com/category/re-insurance-articles-cuba/

6 https:///118542_constructoras-tratan-acelerar-proyectos-hoteleros-habana.html


 8 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helms%E2%80%93Burton_Act

 9 http://www.esicuba.cu/

Alex Guillamont, Head of Latin American and Caribbean practice at Kennedys.

Daniel Padrón Associate at Kennedys, Qualified in Cuba.

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Kennedys extends Caribbean reach with Puerto Rico association

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Global law firm Kennedys’ efforts to provide insurance clients with a comprehensive service across the Americas have been boosted by a new association with a boutique law firm in Puerto Rico.

The association means that Kennedys has extended its reach to seven new territories in Latin America and the Caribbean in just 18 months, following new offices in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Argentina – all of which complement the firm’s regional hub in Miami that opened in 2010.

San Juan-based Colón & Colón acts for a series of major insurers who see Puerto Rico as both an important jurisdiction in its own right and also as a gateway to Latin America. Its status as a US territory makes it a unique location.

Founded by Francisco J. Colón Pagán in 2002, Colón & Colón has experience on a broad range of insurance law issues, including property and casualty, products, aviation, marine and cargo, motor, environmental and medical malpractice claims. They advise on policy coverage issues and the defence of claims as well as subrogated recoveries.

Mr Colón Pagán is supported by partner Francisco J. Mercado Olivero, senior associates Johanna Rivera Cruz and Margarita Rosado Toledo, all of whom have more than ten years of experience.

Nick Thomas, senior partner of Kennedys, said: “Our expansion in Latin American and the Caribbean has been rapid but thought-through, with our clients consulted at every stage.

“We have many clients in common with Colón & Colón and they have highlighted both the value of a presence in Puerto Rico and the quality of work Francisco and his team deliver. This confirms the experience of our own lawyers’ dealings with Colón & Colón.”

Alex Guillamont, Head of Kennedys’ Latin America and the Caribbean practice, added: “Since we opened the Miami office for Latin America and the Caribbean in 2010, work related to Puerto Rico has increased year on year, so this was a natural step to take.

“The aftermath of the hurricane has raised a lot of issues for insurers and reinsurers they will benefit from the combination of Colón & Colón’s expertise and Kennedys’ international reach and experience.”

Francisco J. Colón Pagán said: “This is the perfect move for our firm. We enjoy a similar culture to Kennedys and have experience working with their colleagues in Bermuda, Miami and New York. We also envisage that the association will generate more and higher-profile instructions. Insurance work nowadays demands a global perspective, and Kennedys is leading the way in giving the industry what it wants and needs.”

This is the latest in a long line of global developments at Kennedys, including office openings this year announced in Bangkok, Bermuda, Melbourne, Mexico City, Paris and, just last week, Argentina.

Earlier this year Kennedys announced the completion of its merger with leading US insurance law firm Carroll McNulty & Kull, creating a global insurance practice; an, the firm completed its merger with UK-based commercial litigation specialists berg, which strengthened its global commercial litigation practice.

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