Was Your Hurricane Sandy Insurance Claim Too Low?

Are You Really Sunk from Hurricane Sandy?

You still have time to fix the damage from Hurricane Sandy to your home and your life, if you act fast!

If you’re unhappy with your insurance claim offer, please know that you still have options under your flood and home owner’s insurance policy! You have options that you may not even know about! 

Here’s a brief outline of the options that New Jersey and New York Hurricane Sandy victims have:

  1. Try to negotiate your claim with your insurance company. One big problem you may have is that your adjuster has probably left town, and you will have to get your claim re-assigned to a new adjuster and start the claim over again with someone else.  There have seen situations where people have tried to settle their insurance claim with as many as five different adjusters, in an attempt to settle their claim.
  2. Go to a mediation. If you have the skills for face to face confrontation and the patience and knowledge to know how to handle your case, you can try this method. You need the knowledge and the proof to show why the insurance adjuster did not pay enough in the first place. Can you properly prepare all the documents and supply the expert reports that will be needed to present your insurance claim to the insurance company? Don’t try this is you are not fully prepared, or it could be a disaster.
  3. Hire a lawyer. You may want to ask yourself if you are willing to get involved in the long protracted process of going to court. Remember, the insurance company did not send a lawyer to your home to assess your damages, they sent an adjuster. To compete with this, you should consider hiring your own private adjuster! The best person to hire to handle your insurance damage dispute from Hurricane Sandy is a more experienced adjuster/appraiser who works on your behalf.
  4. Go to a dispute resolution (An appraisal):  This is not the same as a real estate appraisal, or an arts appraisal. This kind of appraiser is a professional who understands how to evaluate your insurance claim damages for both personal property and building damages. This appraisal is a binding and efficient method to get the insurance claim settlement that you are entitled.

 Note: In the states of New York and New Jersey, a public insurance adjuster may not be allowed to be your appraiser, also. This is because your insurance company is going to fight it. The insurance company wants you to hire a disinterested third-party to write the appraisal.

 Remember to avoid paying any extra costs to get your claim settled. Once you get an insurance offer that does not represent the full amount of your damages, you can show this to the insurance company. Show the insurance company your dispute in the amount paid for your insurance claim.  You have the right to go to appraisal.   

The appraisal clause reads as follows in the Standard Flood Insurance Policy – General Property Form. 

“If you and we fail to agree on the actual cash value of the damaged property so as to determine the amount of loss, either may demand an appraisal of the loss. In the event, you and we will each choose a competent and impartial appraiser within 20 days after receiving a written request from the other.”

“The two appraisers will choose an umpire. If they cannot agree upon an umpire within 15 days, you or we may request that the choice be made by a judge of a court of record in the State where the insured property is located. The appraisers will separately state the actual cash value and the amount of the loss to each item. If the appraisers submit a written report of an agreement to us, the amount agreed upon will be the amount of the loss. If they fail to agree, they will submit their difference to the umpire. A decision agreed to by any two will set the account of the actual cash value and loss.”

“Each party will:

  1. Pay its own appraiser
  2. Bear the other expenses of the appraisal and umpire equally.”

An appraisal may not be cost effective if your dispute is only a few thousand dollars. However, if your settlement offer is extremely low with a financial dispute of many thousands of dollars, an appraisal may be an excellent option. 

Appraisers are not allowed to charge you a percentage of your insurance settlement in New York and New Jersey.  So, you can expect experienced appraisers to charge anywhere from $150 – $350 per hour for their services.  There may be additional costs needed, such as hiring an engineer, or other expert to help proof your insurance claim. The umpire’s fee is also charged on an hourly basis, with a similar range of $150 – $350 per hour, and you will be responsible for half of the umpire’s fee.  It is important to understand that you owe a fee to the umpire, even if you are not happy with the final outcome.

At AdvocateClaims.com, we have adjusted hundreds of insurance claims and handled over a hundred hurricane appraisals with a winning track record! Being located in Florida, has given Advocate Claims the experience of handling hundreds of hurricane claims over the last fifteen years.  If you think an appraisal may be a good option for you, call today to discuss how you can quickly get the settlement you deserve.

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