Southern Brooklyn

Insurance Companies Draw Line Between Hurricanes And Floods

Source: vcohen via Wikimedia Commons

Using logic that only makes sense on the 10th level of Hell, some insurance companies have told homeowners affected by Superstorm Sandy that their hurricane insurance doesn’t cover flood damage, according to a report in the New York Daily News. Of course, this comes as no surprise to any of us who’ve been grappling with it from day one.

Focusing on the devastating damage of local Rocakways couple Alex Savoie and Peggyanne Dubra’s home, in which a piece of the local boardwalk smashed into the side of their three story house, the report hammers home the callous and weasley legalese used by insurance companies to stiff them out of a payment. This is a reality faced by thousands of New Yorkers.

Savoie and Dubra, whose insurance company is Allstate, were told that because the huge piece of dislodged boardwalk was caused by flooding waters and not raging winds or falling objects, the conditions specifically covered by hurricane insurance, they were not technically covered.

The ironic thing is that flood damage wasn’t the main cause of damage to the couple’s house. Rather, hurling objects set loose by a flood across the street, caused by Hurricane Sandy, were. These are all events a sane person would conclude to be covered by the umbrella of hurricane insurance.

The actions of these slippery insurance agencies have forced an estimated 220,000 New Yorkers to apply for emergency housing cash from FEMA. The federal organization has already doled out over a half a billion in funds to cover the loopholes insurance companies have used to escape their debt.

Even still, FEMA is not a cure-all, as Savoie and Dubra learned. Because they rent out the bottom floor of their house, FEMA classified their dwelling as a business, even though the home is Savoie and Dubra’s primary residence. The only option available to the couple was to apply for a low-interest loan, a gesture that falls far short of the total overhaul they need to repair the house completely.

Have you found yourself on the short end of your insurance company or FEMA? Check out this local lawyer offering pro bono assistance for disaster victims dealing with FEMA and insurance claims by clicking here. For a comprehensive list of disaster recovery resource information, click here.

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  1. I don’t think that couple wants to say the damage is due to a hurricane since the hurricane deductible is 2-3% of the value of the home, which, in most cases is 10,000 – $15,000. And didn’t Cuomo say at one point that Sandy was to be classified as a winter storm and not a hurricane, in which case the standard $500 would apply.

  2. Furthermore, I’m hearing stories that people without flood insurance are getting more money in total than those with flood insurance. FEMA is giving more money to people without flood insurance to make up for having no insurance. Then the people with flood insurance are not getting enough from either their companies or FEMA. Typical government move, reward those who did the wrong thing (no flood insurance), punish those who did the right thing (got the insurance).

  3. Bruce B you dont understand that some people CANT get flood insurance. many insurance companies around “zone A” affected areas wont cover flood insurance because its “too close to the water”

  4. You have some incorrect information provided previously…
    Flood insurance is available to almost EVERYONE in our area. If the home is in the
    Special Hazard Flood Area (zone A), and there is a mortgage or equity loan, there
    will be a requirement that the homeowner MUST obtain Flood insurance. An area,such as Manhattan Beach, has most homes in Zone A. It is primarily ONLY those homeowners that had mortgages that carried flood insurance. Most of them were unhappy to pay the stiff premiums for the insurance. It is a different story now.
    They had coverage for Sandy, while most with no mortgages, had NO flood coverage.

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