Sandy Insurance Lawsuits Underway [POLL/AUDIO]
There's a lesson many folks will definitely learn in the wake of Superstorm Sandy: know exactly what your insurance covers.
Several lawsuits have already been filed against insurance companies or brokers, by property owners who feel they are not receiving the money they deserve to fix the damage caused by Sandy. Perhaps thousands of more suits can follow. However, the suits are not expected to be an easy win for homeowners and business owners.
"It's not black and white. We're going to see many different types of cases," explained Jay Feinman, Distinguished Professor with Rutgers School of Law in Camden. "We're going to have to find out in individual cases - how much damage was caused by wind and how much damage was caused by water?"
The wind vs. flood battle has been a popular one, as many policyholders deal with the intricacies of insurance for the first time. For more than 50 years, property insurance policies have excluded damage caused by flooding. The option has been available through a federal program.
Feinman said, "New Jersey homeowners along the coast have a higher proportion of flood insurance than in most places, but still, not everybody who needs it has it."
The lawsuits can also involve business interruption claims and a 'he said-she said' element, in which the property owners claim they asked for a certain coverage and unknowingly never received it.
According to Feinman, many insurance policies have their own version of a statute of limitations. Policyholders interested in taking their issues to court should look for a deadline on their documentation.
"These are complicated situations," he added. "You really don't want to go into this process alone if there's a lot of money on the line."