Homeowners complain of delays in Sandy claims

Sandy flood waters in Lower Manhattan
Sandy flood waters in Lower Manhattan

Homeowner victims of Hurricane Sandy are battling with insurance companies and bankers to receive their compensation claims, the New York Daily News reported.

Insurance companies are stalling on making payments or are delaying processing claims, the homeowners allege. Of late, the state’s finance department has received some 500 Sandy-related complaints about problems with insurance companies and banks, with the biggest issue being unresolved flood insurance claims. Homeowners say that the companies keep delaying by switching representatives or by being slow in sending damage assessors out to the homes. 

State officials admitted that flood claims – which are FEMA-funded and privately administered by insurers – have taken longer to settle than insurance claims, the majority of which have been resolved. “The flood insurance program has moved way too slow and flood insurance isn’t that great,” DFS Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky told the Daily News. Currently, over 11,000 flood claims out of the 57,000 filed remain unresolved.

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The state’s finance department investigated New York banks and found that they were holding 6,600 checks worth $208 million. Most of the held checks, the New York Bankers Association said, were those for homes with the most severe damage, as larger checks required greater due diligence to ensure that money handed out for repairs would not be squandered. “While the process is slow for some, it is in place to protect homeowners,” Michael Smith, the association’s CEO, said at a recent state Senate hearing.

Last week, state officials announced that they will investigate whether banks are pushing Sandy-hit homeowners to make monthly payments despite agreeing to postpone them. [NYDN]Hiten Samtani