November 29, 2012 — Almost exactly one month since Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast, many homeowners are still recovering and waiting to receive property damage settlements from their insurance company. Unfortunately, thousands of homeowners will soon discover that their insurance company will not be paying for their property damage because most standard homeowner’s policies do not cover flood damage.
Unfortunately, just 14% of homeowners in the Northeast have flood insurance policies. Although flood insurance is required in high-risk areas, Sandy cut a broad swath of destruction through New York and New Jersey. This could potentially lead to thousands of disputed claims.
In the past, large and expensive natural disasters have prompted large litigations against insurance companies. After Hurricane Katrina, for example, thousands of homeowners won a $100 million class action lawsuit against an insurance company that wrongfully delayed their claims for more than 30 days after the storm.
Even if your insurance company responded quickly to your property damage claim, disputes could potentially arise when determining the value of the property. Determining the cause of the damage is also important — especially if a homeowner lacks flood insurance — because a homeowner might only receive compensation for wind damage.
Fortunately, New York Governor Cuomo announced that homeowners should not be responsible for hurricane deductibles (typically 2-5% of a home’s value), because Hurricane Sandy was downgraded to a “post-tropical cyclone” before it reached New Jersey. This distinction could lead to under-coverage for homeowners who had hurricane insurance but not flood insurance.