1. The most important thing to remember when dealing with property damage and your insurance company is to document everything in writing. Telephone calls with the claims adjuster are wonderful. Reassurances made on the telephone are reassuring. The adjusters are trained to make you feel comfortable. They are inquisitive yet respectful of your feelings. Do not expect their friendliness to mean that they're willing to pay for all of your damages. Do not expect that when you tell them there's specific damage, they are ever going to remember it or document it in your file. No matter what type of property damages sustained, whenever you put a claim in to your insurance company, you must always confirm that conversation in writing. Some people think that an e-mail will suffice. In some cases it might, however the better practice is to put it in a letter with a real envelope and stamp and send it directly to the insurance adjuster. You can always send a copy of it via e-mail. This way there is a long paper trail about all the discussions you have had with the adjuster.
  2. The second most important thing is to take pictures. Lots of them. Make sure you take pictures from every possible angle to show the extent of damage. When you send those photographs to the adjuster, make sure you indicate what dates those photographs were taken. However, if you are sending a large amount of photographs, keep in mind that many insurance adjusters and their insurance companies have firewalls built into their computer software that prevents them from opening up large files from unknown third parties.
  3. The third most important thing is to get repair estimates from multiple sources. Do not rely only on one source to get a repair estimate. The reason for getting multiple repair estimates is that one company may offer specific work that another company simply had not considered. Do not always go by the lowest price for repair work.

Personally, hurricane Sandy did quite a bit destruction at my home. A massive tree in my front yard toppled over and crushed my garage, destroying it. It sheared off the ceiling beams, crush the roof, buckled the walls and possibly damaged the foundation as well. It broke windows and caused extensive damage to our roof. You can see a photo of the massive tree here. In addition, it also damaged two of our cars.

I now have the unfortunate opportunity to deal with multiple insurance companies, multiple claims adjusters and the need to obtain multiple repair estimates to fix all the damage.

On the other hand, I'm extremely grateful and thankful that we did not suffer anything worse. There are many in NY including Breezy Point, Staten Island, Long Beach and more who suffered losses much worse and much more severe. When learning about these people, you can't help but sympathize and feel for them. Although we've been out of power now for eight days straight and the temperature is dropping into the 30's, we are still among the lucky ones.

For those victims of hurricane Sandy in New York, if your insurance company is giving you a hard time and not honoring the terms of  your insurance contract, give me a call to see if I might be able to help: 516-487-8207 or by email: [email protected].

By the way, for all property owners in New York who are filing a claim from hurricane Sandy damage, please note that Gov. Cuomo has recently mandated that if you have a hurricane deductible which is a percentage of your assessed property value, he has, together with the state insurance department required that all property insurers waive the hurricane deductible. Therefore, you should only be assessed your normal property insurance deductible when you are filing a claim.

Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer