Hurricane Sandy Business Interruption Insurance Claim Attorneys – Frekhtman Associates represent victims of Hurricane Sandy. Call now (855) SANDY 911 for a free legal help.
The damages from Super storm Sandy exceed $50 billion including many business owners that suffered losses. If you are a business owner who has suffered damages as a result of Hurricane Sandy, it is important to consider the following factors as you deal with the slow and often difficult process of filing an insurance claim. With Hurricane Sandy claims, aside from the usual slow response and lack of attentiveness from insurance adjusters, there are vital coverage issues. Insurance companies may look to deny a claim based on policy language and the way a claim is presented. A lot of the issues will deal with flood versus wind damage.
#1. Provide information to the insurance adjuster handling your business claim immediately. Do not wait to file a claim. Ask the adjuster what they need and provide as much of this information as possible. Dont wait until you have every piece of info. Submit what you have and keep submitting more information as it becomes available.
#2. Set a deadline for when the claim will be paid. Remember, insurance adjusters are employees of a for profit business much like your business that has suffered. They will not pay your claim if you do not mandate or compel them to. Your claim will be given a low priority and it will linger. To avoid that, set a deadline of 30-60 days for the insurance adjuster to tell you whether they will afford coverage. Be firm. If the insurance company misses the deadline, threaten with a letter that your lawyer will get involved. If that fails, contact a lawyer.
#3. Ask your insurance adjuster to pay out the agreed upon amounts first. Once all undisputed claim payments are received, you can then negotiate the disputed portions. Often an insurance company may pay only a small fraction of what is due. They will hold the rest of the funds including the undisputed claim monies in order to use that as bargaining power over the policyholder to force them to settle the contested claims for pennies on the dollar. This is unfair to the insured.
Always obtain a clear explanation of what your insurance covers. As a business owner you need a definitive and clear statement of what damages the insurance company will cover. Many times an insurance company will issue a reservation of rights letter that simply cuts and pastes verbatim language from the insurance policy in an effort to exclude certain damages. They do this without explaining how those quoted paragraphs apply to the facts of your claim. These letters are meant to protect the insurance company from forfeiting their potential defenses to providing coverage and paying your claim. This again shows how the insurance companies are looking out for their own interests first. If you receive a reservation of rights letter, ask for clear coverage determination and have your attorney send a “bad faith” letter to the insurance company which protects your interests.
#4 Keep a record of all correspondence between yourself and your insurance company. These types of records may be needed if the case goes to litigation.
#5 Make sure to claim losses which are caused by the insurance company’s delays in processing your claim and issuing timely payments to you. As a business owner affected by Super Storm Sandy your livelihood has been interrupted. Your business may have been shut down for a period of time from two weeks to one month or more. Some businesses may have been destroyed due to wind and flood damage. For many businesses, the claim will be for property damage and business interruption. If the insurance company’s dilatory practices and delays are preventing your business from reopening, add that time period to your bad faith letter as this evidence can be used in litigation to obtain punitive damages. Failure to make a claim payment may result in your business being unable to reopen because your insurer improperly delayed or denied your claim.
#6. Make sure you have a team reading to fight for your rights including insurance coverage attorneys, public adjusters, accountants, and other professionals. Remember that the insurance adjuster has in house appraisers, accountants, lawyers, and other personnel who all work to either find a loophole to deny your entire claim or to minimize the pay out. Some companies even pay a bonus to their employees every time they deny your claim or can substantiate a very low pay out.
If you cannot resolve a claim by negotiating it yourself then you can hire a lawyer to litigate the claim on your behalf. Some policies have an appraisal provision which is similar to arbitration. An appraiser or public adjuster will examine your losses and issue a report which you can submit to your insurance company to support your claim. Appraisers are usually former contractors or individuals associated with building trades. However, this is only useful when the insurance company has agreed to provide coverage and the dispute is only concerning the amount of the payment. When the insurance company denies or disputes coverage, there is an initial question of whether your insurer must cover your losses which often should be decided by a court.
Most business owners are experts in their particular field but most are not experts in insurance coverage law. Whether your business is a grocery store, a dental office, a wine bar, or a toy store, you want to get to the place you were before this storm damaged your enterprise. Most times it doesn’t pay to do it yourself since an experienced adjuster armed with a team of claims experts can delay, dispute, and deny any and all payments. To fight them and obtain significant compensation, consider hiring a business claim lawyer to represent you. Law firms in this field work on a contingency fee which means they charge you no fee of any kind and their entire fee is a percentage of the money the law firm wins for you (usually the amount greater than what you were offered before you hired the attorney). For a free consultation contact Frekhtman & Associates at (855) SANDY911.