Hurricane Sandy Victims Reeling Over Steep Flood Insurance Rate Increases

insurance-rate-increases-imageMany Hurricane Sandy victims have yet to repair or rebuild their homes as they continue to battle their homeowners’ insurance carriers.  Now, many of these same homeowners are being given a choice: Raise your house or be subject to steep flood insurance rates. It’s no surprise that many victims are reeling over the increases – some of which are simply astronomical.

NY & NJ Homeowners Faced With A Tough Choice

New federal flood maps released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in June showed that approximately 70,000 structures in the New York and New Jersey areas hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy are now in flood zones.  To obtain flood insurance in the future, homeowners will have to pay more.  How much more?  A lot.

According to NBC News, FEMA says new flood insurance rates may increase by a few hundred dollars, a few thousand or even more than $20,000 per year, depending upon compliance with costly new federal flood zone construction guidelines.  In essence, homeowners are being forced to raise their homes on pilings to take them out of flood zone status – or pay more money for insurance.

One of the people affected is John “Jack” Thompson, a 70-year-old mechanical engineer.  When FEMA released its new flood zone information, he discovered that his small ranch home in Toms River, New Jersey would have to be raised from six to 14 feet and placed on pilings – which can cost upwards of $100,000.  If he didn’t comply, he was told that his future annual flood insurance would skyrocket to about $31,000.  It’s a tough choice for any homeowner to make.

The Bottom Line: Don’t Give Up

Flood insurance increases don’t take effect until mid-2015, so homeowners like Thompson have some time to decide what to do.  However, many homeowners hit by Hurricane Sandy are still waiting for their insurance carriers to compensate them for their losses.  Deciding whether to raise their homes or pay larger insurance premiums down the road is simply a non-issue for them at this point.  They don’t have the funds they were promised to do anything – and many are simply at the point of giving up.  At Belluck & Fox, we urge you not to give up.

Insurance companies routinely dispute settlement amounts, improperly calculate deductibles, undervalue claims, propose unfair settlements, deny claims and engage in bad faith insurance practices instead of paying homeowners the proceeds they’re entitled to.  If your insurer has treated you in bad faith, contact Belluck & Fox and let one of our experienced New York insurance dispute attorneys analyze your situation, get your claim settled and determine whether you might be entitled to other compensation for bad faith insurance practices.