7 Tips for New Yorkers to RecoverTheir Losses After Hurricane Sandy
To those of us who have been devastated by Hurricane Sandy, I wish my heartfelt condolences, and wish you and yours a speedy and full recovery. To that end, this article is intended to educate New Yorkers as to how to assure you don't leave any stone unturned in maximizing your recovery from all available avenues in the aftermath of the storm.
Here is a list that should get you started:
(1) Check ALL of Your Policies of Insurance - although you might be tempted to look immediately to your homeowners or business insurance policies for flood insurance, your search should not end there. Although it may be listed under other headings, e.g., "boiler and machinery," you may very well be covered for some of your losses in ways that aren't immediately apparent. Therefore, it is important that you check all of your insurance policies before concluding that you aren't covered.
(2) If You Lost Your Policies, Contact Your Insurance Broker and/or Insurer to Obtain Another Copy - just because you were flooded out and/or don't have access to your paper files doesn't mean you're out of luck. Contact your insurance broker - or your insurer - directly, and they should be able to get you a replacement copy of your policies fairly quickly (and may even be able to email a copy to you).
(3) Make Sure You Get a Copy of All Endorsements and Exclusions to Your Policies - the cliche about reading the "fine print" was probably first written about insurance policies. Before taking for granted that your claims are limited and/or excluded by your insurance policies, make sure you have a complete copy of the policy.
(4) Make Sure You Put All of Your Insurers on Notice of Your Claim As Soon As Possible - in terms of sheer importance, this should be at the top of the list. One of the most potent defenses to an insurer - even against valid claims - is that they weren't provided timely notice of the claim, thereby impeding their ability to properly investigate the claim. And just about every policy has a provision entitling your insurer to disclaim coverage if you don't provide notice of the claim "as soon as practicable" after the loss.
(5) Make Sure You Document All of Your Losses - simply put, if it isn't written down, the insurance company won't pay you for it. To be clear, this doesn't only mean making a written list (although that's also important); if possible, take photos and videos of the damage, because it is important to bear in mind the old saying that "a picture is worth a thousand words."
(6) You May Need a Structural Engineer or Industrial Hygienist - if you suspect that you sustained structural damage to your building, you should probably retain an engineer to gauge the extent of the damage, and what will be needed to make the necessary repairs. The same is true if you are concerned about a mold problem (in which case you will need to remediate it).
(7) If You Have Commercial Insurance, Don't Forget About Recovery for Business Interruption - While propety insurance will cover physical losses in terms of property damage you sustained to equipment and the like, many commercial insurance policies also include business interruption insurance, which may help offset your non-physical losses, such as storm-related expenses or lost revenues.