Sandy victims may get help in nightmarish battles with insurance companies

Posted at 11:02 AM, Jan 19, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-19 11:02:33-05

STATEN ISLAND, NY (PIX11) – “Everything is a denial, denial, denial, before you see anything, we are going on 80 days here. It’s a joke!” exclaimed New Dorp Beach resident Scott  McGrath who is exhausted from pushing and pulling with his insurance companies.

“Your homeowners policy denies you and tells you they don’t cover nothing due to flooding and sewage.  Contact flood insurance and they tell you they only cover structural damage and not cover your content because you didn’t take it out, it just the going back and forth with insurance companies,” said McGrath.

Local Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis has heard stories like McGrath’s from dozens of other storm victims.

“I’ve had constituents waited weeks to get an adjuster out there.  Or they cannot get copy of policy.  Or they can’t get adjusters report.  Or when they get checks in mail of small amounts, there are no explanations.  Or they are getting denied and not told why,” said Malliotakis.

That is why she took matters into her hands and proposed a bill to reform the claims process that private insurance companies use during a state-declared disaster.  She wants to cut an insurance company’s response time in half, demanding adjusters get out to damaged properties within seven days of a disaster.  She also wants to enforce a deadline (there isn’t one right now) of 30 days for companies to issue a determination on claims.

“Certainly there’s something wrong here with the process and we need to change New York law to protect consumer and not insurance company,” said Malliotakis.

The New York Insurance Association says not so fast.  The president said in a statement to PIX 11, “This bill will not end up benefitting New Yorkers.  Measures such as shortening the timeframe to inspect properties does not help companies provide the best service to their customers, especially when adjusters have difficulty getting access to affected areas.”

“Ugh, it’s amazing,” said McGrath who is thoroughly disgusted by his firsthand experience.

He believes Malliotakis’ proposed changes are exactly what future storm victims need.

“People still cannot rebuild 80 days later. She is absolutely right, we need to pass this bill.”