Bad Faith Insurance Attorney Serving New York

Hurricane Sandy cut a path of destruction through New York and New Jersey, causing widespread wind and water damage in Long Island, Staten Island and the New Jersey Shore.  Now New York and New Jersey homeowners and businesses are facing a second catastrophe – the denial of their legitimate insurance damage claims.

If this has happened to you, you may have a bad faith claim against your insurance company. Put the experienced insurance lawyers at Belluck & Fox LLP to work today!

Our New York legal team, led by Joe Belluck and Jordan Fox, are fighting for Hurricane Sandy victims in New Jersey and New York, including Staten Island and Long Island.

We have successfully stood up against big insurance companies – and we have secured more than $500 million for our clients and their families.  We know how to build the case for a successful bad faith claim on your behalf.

Legal help is a phone call away. Call 212-681-1575 or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation. We’ll get started on your claim right away.

More About Bad Faith Insurance Claims

A standard homeowners’ insurance policy (typically known as an HO1) is essentially a contract between a homeowner and an insurance company insuring against certain risks. The contract’s provisions are commonly interpreted in ways that benefit insurance companies and often leave homeowners at their mercy.  However, insurance companies have a legal duty to deal with policyholders fairly and in good faith.

Known as the “Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing,” this means that insurers must make reasonable efforts to compensate you for your losses and deny your claim only if they have conducted a fair and reasonably thorough investigation.

When insurance companies don’t deal fairly with their insureds, a “bad faith” claim can arise. Bad faith insurance practices take many forms. Declining to pay is the most serious – and often the most common.  Your insurance policy defines the types of risks covered and lists what risks are excluded.  While the process sounds simple, insurance companies use underhanded strategies to deny claims – regardless of what the policy dictates.

Wind Damage, Water Damage and Anti-Concurrent Causation Clauses

While wind damage is generally covered under homeowner’s insurance policies, flood damage is generally not. Flood damage requires a separate policy through FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).  For many Superstorm Sandy victims, determining how much damage was caused by wind as opposed to water has proven to be a challenge. In many cases, insurance companies have given arbitrary reasons for denying claims – doing whatever they can to stack the deck in their favor.

Anti-concurrent causation clauses are a relatively new phenomenon in the insurance industry. Those clauses limit what insurers have to pay out when two events happen at roughly the same time – in most cases, this includes wind and water damage.  The clause states that if one event is covered (generally wind) and the other is not covered (generally water), then the claim will be denied.

While most storms consist of a combination of both wind and water, insurance companies may seek to deny homeowners’ claims without doing a thorough investigation of the actual causes – hoping that policyholders will simply accept their decision and move on.  A thorough investigation should include an assessment of:

  • Flood lines
  • Age of the building
  • Grade and floor levels
  • Direction of the wind
  • Damage comparison to that of other, similar buildings in the area
  • Time of the flood and wind and their overall effect in specific areas
  • Other factors, such as vandalism, and objects in the area, such as trees or heavy objects, which can damage structures.

Unfortunately, a thorough investigation is not always made. It may lack the degree of detail needed to arrive at an accurate and honest determination.  Policyholders should know that anti-concurrent clauses are not always enforceable – especially when insurance adjusters have not properly reviewed all of the facts and circumstances of the situation or thoroughly investigated the amount of damage to the property.  In these situations, an experienced attorney can help.

How An Attorney Can Help Fight Bad Faith Claims

Policyholders who suspect they have a bad faith claim can – and should – fight back with the help of an experienced bad faith insurance attorney. A lawyer can review your claim, analyze your insurance policy, explore the reason(s) for denial, gather evidence to file an appeal and take the insurance company to court if needed:

  • Reviewing your claim.  Filing a claim against an insurance company isn’t simple. You must “cross all your t’s and dot all your i’s.” Policyholders who have been through a traumatic situation often overlook details and then can’t get their insurer to explain what is missing, and this can lead to frustration and delays.  An experienced bad faith insurance lawyer can review your claim to determine whether it was filed correctly and ascertain what can be done to resolve the situation – to your benefit.
  • Reviewing your policy.  Your insurance policy will contain information on what is covered, what isn’t covered and specific situations or circumstances which can affect coverage positively or negatively.  Many homeowners’ insurance policies can, at first glance, seem to be very straight forward.  A standard policy consists of two sections and six areas of coverage, A through F, which address losses sustained to a dwelling; other structures; personal property; loss of use; personal liability; bodily injury; property damage; and medical payments.

Unfortunately, insurance policies are generally written in legalese and contain specific insurance terms that make understanding the policy a very difficult task.  A bad faith insurance lawyer understands the intricacies of insurance law and how courts interpret policy terms.  He or she can help you cut through the red tape, determine exactly what you are entitled to and get it for you.

  • Gathering evidence to file an appeal.  Appealing an insurance company denial involves gathering the right evidence to substantiate your claim.  This can include facts about what happened (extent of the damage, dates when the damage occurred and any extenuating circumstances which may have been involved), hiring an independent appraiser, taking pictures of the damage, documenting conversations with all representatives of your insurance company, locating witnesses to speak on your behalf and more.  A bad faith insurance lawyer knows what types of information may be applicable to your specific situation and what the insurance company might do to discount that information.
  • Taking the insurance company to court.  While many insurance disputes settle, many others do not.  Insurance companies often push the limit when it comes to relying upon their denials – especially when they feel that a policyholder (or the policyholder’s lawyer) won’t take them court.  At Belluck & Fox, we don’t back down; we have the resources to see your case through to the end.  More importantly, insurance companies know that we are ready, willing and able to do just that.

Ready to Get Started?

Insurance companies have teams of attorneys to protect their best interests.  Make sure you have someone to represent yours.

Call Belluck & Fox LLP today 212-681-1575 or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation. We’ll get started on your claim right away.  We are representing businesses and homeowners in New York and New Jersey. If you were hit by Hurricane Sandy in Long Island, Staten Island or along the New Jersey shore, call today for experienced legal help.