November 28, 2012 — You’ve spent hundreds or thousands of dollars to ensure that your insurance company will be there for you when you need them. Unfortunately, some victims of Hurricane Sandy are complaining that their insurance company is not responding or failing to pay for the damage that should be covered under their policy.
In some cases, your insurance company may decide to reconsider their offer once they learn you have competent legal representation. Sometimes a strongly-worded letter can help point out mistakes that have been made, and help rectify the situation without resorting to litigation.
Other times, litigation is necessary to protect your Hurricane Sandy insurance claim. Don’t let your insurance company treat your claim unfairly. You could be entitled to thousands of dollars more than your insurance company has offered to pay.
Hurricane Sandy is expected to cost insurance companies $22 billion, making Sandy the second-costliest storm in our nation’s history after Hurricane Katrina. Unfortunately, experience has proven that natural disasters often force thousands of people to seek legal intervention when their insurance company handles their claim in bad faith.
For example, after Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast region, nearly 19,000 property owners filed “bad faith” lawsuits against an insurance company that delayed adjusting their claims for more than 30 days after the disaster. The courts forced that company to pay more than $100 million in damages.
What could go wrong?
After Hurricane Sandy, many property owners will be shocked to discover that their hurricane insurance might not cover flood damage, because Hurricane Sandy was downgraded to a “Post-Tropical Cyclone” just before making landfall. Unfortunately, most standard homeowners insurance policies do not offer flood insurance. This may lead to disputes about what type of coverage applies to property damage.
Disputes could also arise when measuring the value of damaged property. In these cases, documentation of the loss is very important. There are several steps a property owner must take to protect the value of their claim. The first steps include thoroughly surveying the damage, taking pictures, contacting your insurance company, and documenting every step of the claims process — including the time, date, and subject of every conversation.
It is important to know that you have rights when dealing with your insurance company and your claim. For example, many states have laws requiring your insurance company to respond to your claim in a timely manner.