When Hurricane Sandy swept through New Jersey and the tri-state area, its winds and rains wrought unprecedented property damage on the region. In the wake of the storm, the New York Times reports that insurers are expecting property damage claims in excess of ten billion dollars. Homeowners and businesses filing claims must be careful, because exclusions in policies will apply to limit or exclude claims. There are also limits in policies issued under the National Flood Insurance Program. There will likely be disagreements as to the “cause” of the loss, such as, did “wind” cause the damage as opposed to “rain” or “overflow of water.” Exclusions on homeowner policies for damage caused by power outages or for trees down but not striking homes, will also impact your ability to collect on your loss. We suggest that you consult with experienced lawyers or public adjusters to assist you in the filing of your claim.
Property insurance and umbrella policies often contain confusing and seemingly contradictory exclusions and limitations that could jeopardize your claim if not properly addressed. You should not compromise your access to the maximum recovery possible, and public adjusters, while well-intentioned, should also consult with counsel, to ensure that the advice they are providing to clients as to how to gather and submit insurance claims will result in the best outcome. The first step in the process following a disaster is to prepare an insurance inventory. The inventory should include a description of the property and the type (i.e. houseware, linens, furniture, clothing, toys, electronics, appliances, jewelry, and office items), where it was located in the house, its approximate age, and approximate cost.
Bonny G. Rafel is experienced in handling property insurance claims, having helped many clients following Tropical Storm Floyd. Contact us for a consultation to discuss how we can help you pick up the pieces after Hurricane Sandy.