Hurricane Sandy Storm & Hurricane Damage
In terms of size and the number of people in its path (some 60 million), Hurricane Sandy was the biggest storm ever to hit the East Coast of the U.S., the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season and the second-costliest hurricane in United States history.
In the US alone Hurricane Sandy affected 24 states, including the entire eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine and west across the Appalachian Mountains to Michigan and Wisconsin with particularly severe damage in New Jersey and New York. Damage in the United States amounted to over $65 billion in destroyed property and lost business activity. Many coastal cities and towns slammed by Hurricane Sandy had done little to protect themselves from flood damage, ignoring federal incentives even as they have been flooded repeatedly; more than 100 municipalities in areas that were declared a federal emergency have received the worst ratings from Washington under a program that rewards communities for trying to minimize flood damage.
One of the complications of insurance coverage and reconstruction after a hurricane or other major storm is that your home or business is very unlikely to be the only one to have suffered major damage. It might therefore take time to get a claims adjuster out to your property, to get contractors to inspect damage and submit bids, or to find suitable substitute housing for what might turn out to be months away from your own home.
More than one year later latent damage remains a major issue, clearly illustrated by fires caused by the salt water corrosion of wiring that destroyed six blocks of boardwalk in northern New Jersey.
Floodwaters that submerged our transportation infrastructure and halted service have created mold and corrosion and weakened essential structures. In August 2013 the MTA closed the Montague tube, a key subway tunnel connecting Brooklyn and Manhattan, for a year to complete repairs on badly damaged electrical components in the tunnels. Thousands of residents remain in limbo. An untold number of Jersey Shore homeowners are still battling with their insurance companies; some are still waiting to find out whether they will receive federal or state grants, others who received cash through grants or their insurance companies have discovered that it's not enough to rebuild their homes.
Storm Damage to Homes and Businesses
Hurricanes, floods and wind storms can cause millions of dollars worth of property damage for homeowners. Unfortunately, many homeowners filing claims and expecting relief from their losses find out that the insurance companies regularly deny or lower property claims related to storm damage. Insurance companies may deny a claim for any number of reasons that range from pre-existing damage to neglect and everything in between.
Although dealing with extensive storm damage can be a very emotional process, commercial property owners and homeowners should document as much as they can to prepare for a claim. If your home has been damaged by a storm, we recommend compiling the following information to increase your chances for a successful claim:
- Photographic Evidence – Be sure to have photos on hand of the damage caused by the storm to the exterior, interior and property within the home. We recommend taking pictures of the common structures in the house as well as the foundation, too.
- Estimates, Invoices and Receipts – Keep copies of any repair estimates you might receive. Additionally, be sure to collect any receipts or additional involves for the repairs made on the house. For personal possessions, gather your original receipts if you can and collect the receipts for any replacement items you might purchase. If you rent a hotel or experience additional costs because you are unable to return to your home, be sure to keep those receipts and document all expenses you incur as well.
- Phone Conversation Notes and Contact Info – If you have any contact with insurance representatives or others related to your claim, be sure to take good notes and record the name of the person that you spoke with.
In addition to this information, homeowners often consult with an attorney that understands homeowner insurance litigation and your legal rights as a policyholder.
With many years of experience in homeowner casualty loss disputes, our lawyers know how to protect our clients from insurance settlement practices that place the first priority on protecting the insurer's profit. We can identify and counter many of the more frequent tactics:
- Superficial or hasty inspection of structural hurricane damage
- Denial of coverage
- Reservation of rights
- Interruption of payments before the work is completed
- Direct payment arrangements with contractors at amounts determined before the work starts
- Denial of an important part of your proof of loss
- Threats to cancel coverage if you do not accept a low settlement offer
If the insurer goes too far in delaying investigation, settlement or payment on your claim, our experience with bad faith insurance litigation can protect your interest in full payment. You might also be entitled to additional damages and attorneys fees for bad faith settlement practices.
Our associated attorneys work with clients in New York, New Jersey, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, District of Columbia, Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and Rhode Island on all aspects of hurricane loss claims, including living expenses for periods when you cannot live at your damaged home and repair estimates that reflect the true cost and timing of restoring your residence. Whenever necessary, we can arrange for independent estimates if it appears that the expenses necessary to cover your losses are greater than the insurance company's offer.
Brent Cordell can advise and represent property owners when their insurance companies resist full payment on hurricane damage claims. He can help you get the benefit of your insurance protection at all stages of the claims process, from emergency living expenses to complete coverage of repair and reconstruction. Contact our hurricane damage attorneys for a free consultation.