Some insurers won’t pay up to Superstorm Sandy victims, telling them the damage to their homes was caused by flooding, which is only covered under the federal flood insurance program.
Several hundred people whose homes were destroyed by the massive storm have turned to FEMA’s disaster program after learning from insurance agents that they were not covered for the damage, because it was flood-related, reports Reuters.
Kathleen Valentine, a fire alarm dispatcher who spent Superstorm Sandy working while her house flooded and filled with dead fish, stated of her insurance, “They’re covering five shingles and a piece of gutter, and that’s it.”
Valentine’s insurance carrier, Narragansett Bay, told her that her policy only covered wind damage. John Houle, a spokesman for the company, would not comment on specific cases, but stated that they are currently processing 17,000 Superstorm Sandy-related claims.
The New York Daily News notes that a woman in the Rockaways, Alex Savoie, was told that her house was covered for hurricane damage, so when Sandy blew through the assumed she was safe.
But her insurance adjuster told her the damage to her home, which was initially caused by floodwaters from the storm, wasn’t covered. Savoie stated:
“They told me I’m at the end of the line. The bottom line is very simple. I had hurricane insurance. It should cover a hurricane.”
Many homeowners in low-lying areas affected by the storm have similar stories. When insurers won’t pay up for the damage to their homes, they are turning to the feds. Roughly 220,000 homeowners in New York City and Long Island have already registered for emergency housing cash from FEMA.
Savoie’s neighbor is one of those homeowners. Navin Latchman stayed behind in the storm and watched the boardwalk come apart. He witnessed portions of the boardwalk crash into his home. Latchman stated, “It took out the wall. There were multiple pipe breaks. Then the wind came in and started throwing things all over the place.”
An Allstate adjuster informed him, however, that he is not covered because the damage to his home was caused by a flood, instead of the hurricane. Latchman will be eligible for FEMA’s emergency grant to repair his home, but Savoie will not. Why? Because she rented out the bottom floor of her house, so the federal disaster agency deemed her home a business.