Free help for homeowners fighting insurance companies after Sandy

Posted at 1:43 PM, Feb 02, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-02 13:43:44-05

SEAFORD, NY (PIX11) —  Superstorm Sandy started as a harrowing experience for Rosemary Marano.

“Nothing could have prepared me for six feet of water filling my home.  It came in like a tsunami.  Covered my feet, then my waist and before I knew it, it was up to my neck,” said Marano.

When the water receded, she figured, she was alive, she had insurance, everything would be fine.  Three months later, she’s only received $10,000 in coverage and her home still does not have any floors.

“Every time, I called to get an update on my case with Liberty Mutual, I was met with an adversarial tone, almost hostility,” she said.

She says navigating all of the different entities, from adjusters to structural engineers became a nightmare.

“I tried to navigate these waters on my own but I couldn’t do it and had to wave the white flag,” she said.

She turned to the law firm Avalone and Bellistri of Lake Success.

Attorney Christopehr Bellistri said, “We are a kind of one-stop-shop.  We have public adjusters who will adjust the claim but we also have the full force of a legal team behind it, so we’re able to, if need be, litigate the case and get our clients the most they deserve.”

For absolutely zero cost up front, the firm sent public adjuster Dave Charles, to assess her home.  Charles has been a disaster relief specialist for thirty years, working major storms from Hurricane Andrew to Hurricane Katrina.

Like most Sandy cases, Charles says he found a lot of damage in Marano’s case that the private adjuster conveniently missed.

“You see how gutted this house is, studs were in water up to here, as is all of the other wood, covered with raw sewage, chemicals, all kinds of witches brew that soaked this house.  You can’t allow wood to stay that way.  They are replacing the subfloor but they are not going to replace the exterior wood siding, and they are not going to replace studs….Flood doesn’t do that and we fight for that,” said Charles.

While Marano is by no means all set to move back into her home, she’s relieved to know, she has help in this fight.

“At least my insurance company will realize I’m not alone.  I’m not in their crosshairs.  There is somebody else in my corner that they will have to answer to,” she said.

Bellistri says if their adjuster finds a significant amount more damage than the private adjuster, and the homeowner wants to move forward with their help, the firm will work on the homeowner’s behalf for a fee of 10-12% of the claim payout.

If the homeowner does not want to move forward, then they say, the homeowner gets free advice to help themselves fight their insurance company on their own.