New York Disputed Settlement Lawyer

Although insurance companies are required to deal with insureds fairly and in good faith, many insurers initially offer settlements far below what is fair and reasonable.  That is now happening with claims related to Hurricane Sandy, also known as Superstorm Sandy.

Has this happened to you? Turn to the experienced insurance lawyers at Belluck & Fox LLP. Our NYC law firm stands up for Hurricane Sandy victims. We are helping storm victims in Staten Island, Long Island and the Jersey Shore.

We have successfully fought insurance companies – and we have secured more than $500 million for our clients and their families.  Call 212-681-1575 or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation. We’ll get started on your New York or New Jersey insurance claim right away.

How Insurance Settlement Amounts Are Calculated

Although variations exist, settlement amounts are generally calculated by using replacement costs or actual cash value methods.  While generally more expensive to purchase, policies using replacement cost methods mean that you’ll be compensated for the cost to rebuild or repair using materials similar to what you currently have.  So, if your medium-grade roof was damaged in the storm, you’ll be compensated for the cost of installing another medium-grade roof.

Actual Cash Value (ACV) policy methods are a bit different.  While you’ll still be able to replace your medium-grade roof with another, your insurer will factor in the depreciation (age, wear and tear) of your current roof to come up with a fair market value based on its condition prior to the damage.  So, you’ll get less for a roof that was five years old, and even less if it was a 10-year-old roof – meaning the extra money needed to repair or replace it comes out of your pocket.

Determining which method applies is likely the simplest step.  Determining the cost to replace or repair is likely the most difficult, as policyholders usually receive several estimates – and they may bear no resemblance to one another.  In most situations, natural disaster victims contact a local contractor to assess their damages and provide them with an estimate on what it will cost to fix.

Insurance companies will also send an adjuster or an appraiser to assess the damage and calculate the cost to fix.  However, their estimates are often far lower than what policyholders expect, or need, to make them whole again.  In order to dispute that figure, policyholders can generally request their insurance carrier to review the claim, find out how the appraiser came to his or her conclusion and have a second appraisal conducted – either through their insurance company or through a public adjuster who is not employed by the insurance company.  Unfortunately, getting any of those steps accomplished fairly and within a reasonable amount of time is rare.

Some insurance companies will review all three opinions and settle on a reasonable and acceptable amount.  Unfortunately, many others will simply offer the lowest figure, or only slightly above the lowest figure, and move on to the next claim.  Many policyholders simply get tired of fighting with their insurance company and accept the lower settlement amount so they can move on with their lives.

By evaluating your insurance policy and claim, an attorney can determine how contractors and appraisers arrived at their estimates by reviewing how materials and labor were priced.  They will then be able to conclude whether the company’s proposed resolution is fair and reasonable.  If the insurer still disagrees and won’t budge from their low-ball figure, the attorney can force them to defend their position in a court of law.

When you need legal help, we’re here. Call Belluck & Fox LLP today at 212-681-1575 or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation. We’re fighting for Hurricane Sandy victims in New Jersey and New York, including homeowners and businesses in Staten Island, Long Island and the Jersey Shore.