Bad Faith Insurance Practices & the Stories of 4 NJ Families Who Are Still Suffering


As the one year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy approaches, thousands of homeowners and business owners find themselves in no better position than they were a year ago.  The stories of four families / business owners from Ocean County, New Jersey who are still suffering are simply heartbreaking – thanks to insurance companies that engage in bad faith insurance practices.

Insurance Delays, Denials & a Lot of Heartache

That’s what residents of Ocean County New Jersey and thousands of others in the coastal regions hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy are facing.  According to the Huffington Post, the Ocean County Planning Board estimated that 26,000 people were unable to return to their homes as of last month – many of whom live in the Union Beach area on the Raritan Bay.  Some of those people featured in the article told heartbreaking tales, such as:

  • Bart & Sue Sutton.  The Suttons fought with their insurance company for a year over what it would cost to rebuild their flood-damaged Union Beach home.  They gave up and spent $10,000 of their own money to have their home torn down.  Mrs. Sutton said, “We cried for weeks. We dragged our entire life’s possessions out onto the front lawn and cried as we watched it all get hauled away.”  They hope to build another home on the property someday.
  • Simone & Ken Dannecker.  The Dannecker’s home was overrun with green mold after Sandy, but they never received insurance proceeds or government aid to fix it.  Instead of losing their home, they decided to fix it themselves.  However, doing so was more expensive than they thought, and they are now nearly bankrupt.  Mrs. Dannecker said, “Financially, we’re in ruins.  We took everything we had in the bank and put it into our house.”  The Danneckers continue to battle it out with their insurance company.
  • Gigi Liaguno-Dorr.  Ms. Dorr owned an oceanfront restaurant that was nearly destroyed during Hurricane Sandy.  She needs $2 million to rebuild, but has only about a quarter of that.  She is still waiting, like so many others, for some type of insurance relief.  She said, “I have never felt more helpless than I do right now.  We’re struggling. And I’m not alone. Everybody I know is like this.”

However, Dorr hasn’t given up hope.  She has rented a temporary space about a mile inland and has decorated the restaurant with doors she salvaged from dozens of nearby homes that were destroyed by the Superstorm.  She has restored them, marked the address they came from and is using them as wall space in honor of those affected.

  • Joanne Gwin.  Gwin’s Toms River home was also destroyed during Sandy.  Although she had a homeowners’ policy worth $250,000, her insurance company only paid her $101,100.  She’s appealing that decision – from her rented apartment – nearly a year later.  She said, “As of today, we are no closer to moving home than we were [a year ago].  We are paying taxes and insurance on a home we can no longer live in. We are now at a standstill, waiting for the next step. What IS the next step? Does anybody know? We are looking at another Christmas with a tabletop tree in an apartment instead of the 9-foot Christmas tree that has always been our tradition. We want to go home.”

These are only a few of the stories to be told.  In fact, New Jersey’s State Taxation Division reported that over 40,000 properties suffered a total of $4.3 billion in lost value from Hurricane Sandy storm damage.

Let Us Help You Go Home

If your insurance company has denied your legitimate homeowner’s insurance claim, has undervalued your claim or proposed a settlement amount that, like Gwin’s, is simply unfair, contact Belluck & Fox.  Let one of our experienced New York insurance dispute attorneys analyze your situation and get your claim settled once and for all – so that you can finally go home.

Insurance companies who treat policyholders in bad faith can be liable for their actions above and beyond what they contractually owe you for insurance policy proceeds.  If your insurance company hasn’t treated you fairly or in good faith, you might be entitled to compensation for bad faith insurance practices.  Call us today at 212-681-1575.

At Belluck & Fox, we are dedicated to providing exceptional client service and securing maximum compensation for victims of Hurricane Sandy and their families.