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Property Damage Leads to Hurricane Sandy Insurance Claims

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New York, NYFor home owners and business owners who suffered damage to their homes, offices and properties, the process of dealing with a Hurricane Sandy insurance claim could be yet another stressful situation. Insurance companies may deny Hurricane Sandy losses or find reasons to under-compensate or unreasonably delay paying out a claim--known as "bad faith insurance" in the industry. In addition, if the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy is anything like Hurricane Katrina, some policyholders may find themselves considering a Hurricane Sandy insurance lawsuit to force their insurer to pay their claim.

Homeowners and property owners who suffered damage are likely in the process of filing a claim with their insurer. Ben Stewart, attorney at Stewart Law PLLC, says it is vital that policyholders know their rights when they file a claim.

"Insurers often do not advise claimants of all covered items in their policy," Stewart says. "Also, your insurer cannot apply a 'hurricane' or 'named storm' deductible to your policy. The insurer must evaluate, adjust and pay out your claim expeditiously in accordance with your insurance policy."

This means insurers should not use tactics to unreasonably delay paying out your claim. Tactics some insurance companies are accused of using include requesting paperwork that has already been sent, claiming paperwork has gone missing or been filled out improperly, or claiming that damage was caused by factors not covered in the policy.

Some of the responsibility for insurance claims falls with policyholders, Stewart says. For example, insurance policies will have deadlines for filing claims, and policyholders must meet those deadlines where practical. Property damage claims that could be made following Hurricane Sandy??"depending on the claimant's policy??"include personal property losses, exterior property damage, structural damage, wind damage, fire damage, and roof damage.

Business owners may file claims for property damage and, where it is covered in their policy, loss of business. Business owners may still have to wait to have their claim assessed, however, which could further delay reopening their business.

If an insurance company refuses to pay a legitimate claim or unreasonably delays payment of that claim, policyholders still have legal recourse. "You have a right to have a lawyer sue or arbitrate on your behalf against your insurance company if necessary," Stewart says. It might not be ideal, but if your insurance company fails to honor your policy, it may be necessary.

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