Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Insurers To 'Sandy' Victims: 'It Was A Flood, Not A Hurricane!' Damage-Claiming Homeowners Without Flood Policies Told To Take A Hike!

In the Rockaways section of Queens, the New York Daily News reports:

  • Thousands of families still struggling in the aftermath of Sandy are learning that some insurance companies don’t seem to think the storm was a hurricane.

    Alex Savoie’s broker told her that her family’s Rockaways home was covered for hurricanes, so when Sandy trashed the place, she assumed she’d be okay.

    To Savoie’s surprise, the insurer said she wasn’t covered because the damage was caused by a flood — not a hurricane. Because she doesn’t have flood insurance, she’s out of luck.

    “They told me I’m at the end of the line,” Savoie, 41, said this week, standing inside the gutted remains of her first floor on Shore Front Parkway in the Rockaways. “The bottom line is very simple. I had hurricane insurance. It should cover a hurricane.”

    Homeowners in low-lying areas across the city have found themselves in the same situation. They’re turning to the feds in droves after their insurers won’t pay up.

    About 220,000 homeowners in New York City and Long Island have registered for emergency housing cash from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA has approved $557 million for homeowners. Some of the money is for temporary rent payments, but much of it is for emergency home repairs not covered by insurance. The insurance gap is an emerging issue along Savoie’s hard-hit stretch of Shore Front Parkway.

    The Oct. 29 Sandy surge busted up the boardwalk across the street, breaking it into thousands of wooden projectiles headed straight for their homes. A huge chunk of boardwalk slammed into Savoie’s three-story home. One long plank burst through her wall like a spear into a first-floor bedroom. The resulting hole allowed the Atlantic to bash its way in, tearing out walls and dragging in tons of beach sand.

    When Savoie and her partner, Peggyann Dubra, and their two small daughters returned after evacuating, they found the wall ripped apart and the house open to the elements.

    Savoie’s homeowners policy was typical, with coverage for “wind damage” and “falling objects” but not flood damage. She figured her home was covered for a huge piece of boardwalk crashing into her house.

    Before Hurricane Irene last year, she called her broker and was told that she was covered. But her Allstate adjuster showed up post-Sandy to say the plank that crashed through the wall was pushed by water, therefore the damage was, technically, from a flood. Allstate officials didn’t respond to requests for comment.
For the story, see Some insurance companies to Sandy victims: You are covered for hurricanes, not floods (To Alex Savoie’s surprise, the insurer said she wasn’t covered because the damage was caused by a flood — not a hurricane. Because she doesn’t have flood insurance, she’s out of luck).

For a similar story in neighboring Brooklyn on insurance companies stiffing their recently-victimized policyholders, see Storm-savaged Brooklynites fighting with insurers and the feds; free legal clinics offer them help (Thousands in need for legal help, official says):
  • An an Allstate adjuster said [homeowner Evelyn Droz'] water-logged lower floor apartment is a basement and isn’t covered — even though Droz’ policy specifies the two family-house has no basement.

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