Hurricane Sandy Insurance Claims Lawyers
On October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy made landfall just south of Atlantic City, New Jersey, bringing with it winds up to 90mph. Tropical storm force winds extended out 520 miles from the center of the storm, or 1,040 miles in diameter. Residents of 13 states suffered severe damage from wind and flooding, as hurricane-force wind gusts were recorded from Maine all the way to Virginia. Hurricane Sandy was the result of a unique series of events and was one of the largest, most intense hurricanes to ever hit the Northeastern United States.
What Happens After the Storm?
When a catastrophic storm strikes, insurance companies will have thousands to tens of thousands of claims to process, often within a few days following the storm. Typically, insurance companies will hire independent adjusting companies to inspect damaged property and prepare an estimate for repairs for each claim. It sounds simple enough. However, multiple adjusters, delays in processing and payment, unfair denials, misrepresentations, and offers to settle claims for far below the actual cost of repairing the damage are all strategies that insurance companies typically employ to avoid paying fair value, as insurance companies can, and do, save millions of dollars by settling claims at less than their fair value.
The adjusters hired by an insurance company will often fail to see large amounts of hidden damage – sometimes the damage resulting from a storm is not apparent until far later, after the claim has been settled. In the rush to inspect each claim, insurance companies and adjusting companies will hire hundreds of adjusters. Several of the adjusters who are hired to inspect the damages will likely have little experience and training – which can make a big difference as to the insurance company’s estimated value of a claim, usually in the insurance company’s favor. In the end, the property owner is often left to make up the difference between the cost of repairs and the amount paid to them by the insurance company. Frequently, this amounts to tens of thousands of dollars in repairs that property owners must pay for on their own.
Steps to Take
If you have suffered property damage because of Hurricane Sandy, do not wait to take action. There are several steps you should immediately take to protect and enforce your rights:
- As soon as you are safely able to do so, you should take whatever reasonable steps that you can to mitigate further damage to the property through temporary repairs. Keep receipts for all emergency repairs and any costs you incur for temporary living expense (eg. Lodging, food, etc.). Further, photograph all damaged property and do not dispose of any damaged property until the adjuster has seen the damaged property and documented the same, unless authorities require you to dispose of it. Take photographs of damaged items such as spoiled food or wet carpeting, which should be disposed of for health reasons.
- Report your claim as quickly as possible to your insurance company. Keep a copy of your policy in a safe place. If you are unable to find your policy, request a replacement copy from your insurance company and/or agent. Once you have reported your claim, record the date and time you reported the claim, the claim number assigned by your insurance company, and the name of the person you reported the claim to.
- Take notes! Document the dates and times of every conversation you have with your insurance company and any adjuster. Also, be sure to note the names of the individuals you speak with. Be sure to ask the adjuster their name and who they work for and record the incoming number, if possible, for any phone call you receive from your insurance company or an adjuster. Document the specific details of every conversation with your insurance company or adjuster. If you are contacted by e-mail or by letter, save copies of all correspondence. Be sure to document the amount of time spent at your property by any adjuster, and note the specific details of everything they tell you and everything they inspect. Did they get on the roof? Did they inspect the attic? Did they ask you about food loss or damage to your personal possessions?
- If you did not prepare one prior to the storm, make an inventory of all of your possessions and personal property. Make sure you photograph all damage to your possessions, personal property, and all damage to the property itself. Try to locate any receipts or invoices you may have for any repairs, upgrades or renovations to the property and for the purchase of any your personal property.
Understanding Your Rights
Is there someone who can help me recover everything I am entitled to recover under my policy and according to the law?
Remember that insurance policies can be very difficult to understand. Your insurance company and adjuster may also not interpret the policy correctly, may act unprofessionally, delay, deny your claim, or underestimate the damages.
If you are being treated unfairly by your insurance company, the sooner you take action, the better. Often, the best way to help you get all the money you are entitled to under your policy and the law is to turn the settlement process over to a law firm that understands the law and the tactics your insurance company might try to use to deny you the payment you deserve. Do not hesitate to secure the help you need. Contact the insurance claims lawyers of Williams Kherkher at 888-384-6376 today.