Superstorm Sandy Homeowners Still Battling Insurance Companies, Govt Red Tape One Year Later

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One year after Superstorm Sandy devastated large swaths of the New York and New Jersey coastlines, homeowners there say that the battle against their insurance companies as well as against governmental red tape has left them exhausted, frustrated and in some cases, ready to give up.

“We are up to our limits. Our money is tied up trying to get back in our home, fighting with insurance, fighting with FEMA,” Diane Mazzacca of Stafford Township, N.J., told a state panel on Monday. “Nobody has done anything to help. You've got to help. Otherwise I'm just turning over the keys."

Another New Jersey resident who spoke at the panel hearing said that the post-Sandy ordeal has taken years off her life.

"After a year I'm tired. Instead of being a 36-year-old single mother, I feel like I'm 76,” said Danielle Vaz, who attended the panel proceeding with her four-year-old autistic son. “It's not getting any easier. It's getting harder by the day. When I needed my government — the people I voted for — they failed me."

In other areas hit hard by the storm, which formed in the Caribbean one year ago today and raked the northeastern shorelines a week later, insurance companies have failed to pay for adequate home repairs, due largely to the brigade of inexperienced claims adjusters sent out to make damage estimates in the immediate aftermath of Sandy.

“Some of these guys could have been selling oranges last week at a fruit stand, and this week they are an insurance adjuster,” said Amy Bach, executive director of the consumer group United Policyholders.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, insurers have paid out almost $8 billion in repair money for Sandy-hit homeowners. The average check has been $54,754 with 92 percent of people who filed claims receiving at least some payment.

SOURCES: Associated Press, The Daily Journal, Wikipedia