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Are You Covered?

Dovid Sussman

Just a couple of weeks ago, Hurricane Sandy swooped down on the East Coast, leaving a trail of devastation in her wake. For homeowners hit hard by the hurricane, the nightmare is far from over. Where can they turn to recoup their losses? How can they expect their insurance companies to respond, and is there anything they can do to increase their chances of receiving the needed payout?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

insuranceThe news came in shortly after the hurricane hit:Sandywasn’t actually a hurricane, after all. It may have felt like one, but the National Weather Service reserves the term “hurricane” for storms with sustained wind speeds of 74 miles per hour or more, andSandyfailed to meet that crucial criterion when it made landfall.

At first glance, that may seem like small consolation. But in truth, it makes a big difference — a difference that can cost insurance companies billions and save thousands for hurricane victims.

In recent years, there has been a rising trend for insurance companies to protect themselves by inserting hurricane deductibles into most property insurance policies. While the deductible for damage caused by other disasters is often only $1000, in the event of a hurricane it rises to anywhere from one percent to five percent of the property’s value. HadSandybeen officially classified as a hurricane, homeowners would have faced the necessity of paying tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket in order to be reimbursed by their insurance companies for damage they incurred during the storm. But state governors and senators alike — including New York’s Governor Cuomo and Senator Charles Schumer — made a point of admonishing insurance companies to stick to the official classification of the storm and not apply the daunting deductible, a step that gave victims of the storm at least one reason to sigh in relief amid their troubles.


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