Whenever any kind of accident or disaster occurs, the one thing that people are most prone to say is, "Thank goodness for insurance," or "That's what we have insurance for." But in the case of a major disaster the likes of Superstorm Sandy, sometimes the insurance policy that you have purchased and relied upon for years will not provide you with assistance because of exclusions in their terms and conditions; this is what many Sandy victims are discovering now, in the storm's aftermath.
Still others are finding themselves frustrated and stymied by insurance companies who were eager to speak to them when they were selling them their policy but who have suddenly gone invisible — this is because there is so much damage that has been caused by the storm that the insurance companies are afraid that they are going to be economically damaged, unable to pay all of their claims. Many are not returning calls, or denying claims based on questionable reasons. If this is what you're experiencing, we can help.
The attorneys at Danziger & De Llano have proven time and time again that they are the firm you want to have on your side when you're up against a big company trying to unfairly take advantage. Give us a call — we can help you get the insurance company to provide what you're due so you can start rebuilding your life.
If you are a Superstorm Sandy victim, one of the best things that you can do for yourself is make sure that you have a good working knowledge of your insurance policy, what it includes, and what it excludes.
Here are some basic bits of knowledge about insurance and the way it works:
- Not all homeowners' policies are the same. Some exclude things like flood, others exclude damage from wind. If you aren't certain what your policy includes, sit down and read it — there will be a specific list of inclusions and exclusions. And if you still aren't sure, try to get an answer from your insurance agent.
- Make sure you understand what your deductible is. A deductible is the amount that you as a policy holder are required to pay out of pocket before the insurance money kicks in. Most home owners' policies have a deductible of $500 or $1,000, but many policies have very specific language that changes the rules when a hurricane is involved, raising the deductible to a percentage of the insured property's value. This shouldn't be a problem for New York and New Jersey residents, as both of those states' governors have already made declarations indicating that the storm's wind speed dropped below hurricane force before making landfall, thus precluding the use of that particular clause, but many unethical insurers are trying to convince policy holders that it still applies in order to minimize the amount they need to provide in insurance coverage.
- If you don't have flood insurance, you still may be okay. A lot of people are worried about the fact that they didn't have flood insurance and now find themselves with severe water damage caused by the storm. If your home is in an area that has been declared a federal disaster area, that means that you are eligible to receive compensation for your damages from FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA will help pay for the cost of your repairs, as well as some relocation expenses if your home is declared uninhabitable. It is important that you put in a claim for FEMA assistance as soon as possible, as the funds available are limited and distributed on a first come-first served basis.
- If you do have flood insurance, even though you purchased it through your private insurer it is actually administered by the federal government's National Flood Insurance Program. Flood insurance is extremely limited — it only covers $250,000, though it is possible to purchase additional riders through your insurer — and it only covers replacement value of very specific aspects of your home such as plumbing, heating and construction features, not personal possessions. Flood insurance also does not cover areas that are considered below street value, so if you have a flooded sub-basement or crawlspace that is located a step down from your home's foundation there is a good chance that you will not be reimbursed for your losses.
If your home or business property was damaged as a result of the impact of Hurricane Sandy, then you are one of thousands who are in the process of trying to deal with your insurance company. If you are getting frustrated by being ignored, not having your calls returned, finding the company uncooperative or straight out being denied for a claim that you believe should be covered by your policy, we can help.
Policy holders who have attorneys making calls on their behalf are much more likely to receive quick attention but also to get a satisfactory answer to their inquiry, claim or complaint, and the attorneys at Danziger & De Llano are experienced at getting our clients the compensation they deserve. Give us a call and let us take a look at your situation; we'll advise you as to what your rights are, and help you get your claim addressed quickly and comprehensively.