Hurricane Sandy Victims Given Mediation Option
Although Sandy tore through the eastern United States last year, many homeowners and communities are still attempting to piece their lives back together. As of early June, there are approximately 20,000 unsettled insurance claims totally stalled. The majority of the unsettled claims are where the storm hit the hardest on the Jersey shore.
Elected officials were aware of the issue several months ago, and Insurance Commission Ken Kobylowski has decided to generate New Jersey's own version of a Hurricane Katrina response that would give victims an additional avenue to have their claims heard.
The new program will allow policyholders to request a mediation from the insurance company in an effort to receive and close out their claim. Since companies have been slow in dealing with some requests, particularly for areas where Hurricane Sandy had a devastating effect, many homeowners feel as though their claim will never be resolved. Offering mediation would provide these individuals an opportunity to move towards a final resolution without being stuck in the logjam of a huge number of claims.
An expert will work with the two parties to come to a mutual agreement as a claim amount that both parties would support. If the parties are not able to come to a mutual decision, they have the right to go to court, but again, delays could significantly impact how quickly the issues are dealt with.
Many policyholders have expressed concerns about the slow nature of so many backed up claims because those people seeking state and federal assistance must have their insurance claims closed out first before seeking additional support. Waiting "in line" for claims investigations and processing completely shuts out the families from seeking that state or federal assistance. Using mediation as a tool, elected officials are hopeful that more policyholders will achieve a final solution in a more timely manner.