Hurricane Sandy Insurance Claims: Settled or Underestimated

Insurance companies are reporting that the vast majority of insurance claims stemming from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy have been settled. Unfortunately, a significant number of homeowners do not feel that they have been justly compensated.

What Has Been Done

On October 29, 2012, Superstorm Sandy made landfall near the Atlantic City area of New Jersey. The storm caused deaths and property damage across a wide area of the Eastern seaboard, but especially impacted the states of New York and New Jersey. After the initial devastation and flooding, homeowners began returning to their houses, surveying the damage, and contacting their insurance companies. The insurers sent armies of adjustors to assess the damage and determine appropriate payments. A late April report from the Insurance Information Institute states that these insurance companies have now settled 93 percent of the claims for damage from the storm. It is estimated that insurers will pay out 18.8 billion dollars to their policyholders. This amount will rank Sandy as the third-most expensive storm in U.S. history, surpassed only by Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Andrew. The payout includes nearly 1.1 million homeowners, 200,000 business owners, and a quarter million vehicle owners.

The Problem

Despite these enormous payouts, some individual policyholders are arguing that damage to their homes was grossly underestimated and that payments were not nearly adequate for the necessary repairs. Although some of these claims are unsubstantiated or stem from a misunderstanding of their insurance coverage, many homeowners seem to have a valid argument. One homeowner received a check for $201.90 to pay for repairs to her home. This amount did not even come close to covering the damages. Just making the recommended repairs to the roof cost her $500, and other needed repairs set her back even more. She, along with other homeowners, has hired a lawyer to combat her insurance company.

The Recourse

Homeowners facing this situation should seek legal counsel immediately. Retaining a lawyer does not mean that a case will automatically go to court, but legal advice can provide important protection. For instance, in some cases simply cashing the check sent from the insurance company can signify legal agreement with the amount of compensation the insurer has provided. This agreement can forestall the homeowner from bringing any legal action against the insurance provider.

If you believe that your insurance claim was underpaid, whether from Superstorm Sandy or any other incident, it is in your best interest to secure legal representation. Contact the office of Witkon Law today for a free consultation.

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Help When Facing Foreclosure

No one wants to consider the possibility of foreclosure, yet more and more Americans have faced this nightmare in recent years.

The Statistics

In the time since the beginning of the economic recession in 2008, more than 4 million homes have experienced foreclosure. CoreLogic, a data collection company, recently reported a national foreclosure inventory of more than 1 million homes — about 3 percent of all homes carrying a mortgage. Yet, many of these statistics have little correlation with personal fiscal responsibility. Rather, the high foreclosure rate is a result of a great number of unemployed or underemployed individuals, falling housing values, and a myriad of other factors resulting from a depressed economy. Even the current encouraging signs in the housing market do little for those struggling now to make overdue payments.

Effect of Hurricane Sandy

These statistics are certainly frightening to every homeowner struggling to make their next mortgage payment, but those with the added burden of recovery from Hurricane Sandy have additional worries. In the aftermath of the storm, many of these families faced not only severe property damage but also significant amounts of missed work. Together, these factors ate away at their already slim savings, making foreclosure a real possibility.

Announcement Brings Temporary Relief

However, the plight of these homeowners has not gone unrecognized by the federal government, and a new announcement may give at least temporary relief. Shaun Donovan, the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary, and Edward J. DeMarco, the Federal Housing Finance Agency Acting Director, recently announced a ninety-day halt on the initiation of new foreclosures and on the processing of current foreclosures. This moratorium applies to properties located in the regions declared to be federal disaster areas following Hurricane Sandy. Mortgages affected are those held by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Authority. In addition, these homeowners may also be able to apply for forgiveness of late charges, modifications to their loans, and forbearance. This halt in foreclosures is in effect until April 30, 2013 and is intended to provide more time for recovery in these hard-hit areas.

Is your home threatened by foreclosure? Do you know what your rights are or if this new announcement even applies to you? Don’t try to struggle through the paperwork alone. The Law Offices of David Witkon are experienced in helping homeowners through the intimidating process of foreclosure appeal. Don’t become one of the statistics. Contact us today for an appointment.