PA homeowners: no need to pay hurricane deductibles for Sandy-induced damage

CNN Money very recently reported on the little-known but potentially costly “hurricane” deductible stipulations often included in homeowner insurance policies (often unbeknownst to policy holders). Les Christie writes on CNNMoney.com that

“homeowners with property damage from Hurricane Sandy could be on the hook for thousands of dollars before their insurance payments kick in.”

This is especially true in tropical storm/hurricane-prone states. The “hook” here is founded on the special distinction hurricane deductibles typically stipulate: that the policyholder is responsible for a percentage of the value of the covered property. While Pennsylvania isn’t high on the list of “hurricane-prone” areas, it should be welcome news to hear that PA homeowners can let out a sigh of relief, thanks to a recent announcement from Governor Corbett.

Gantdaily.com reports today that Pennsylvania homeowners will not be required to pay hurricane deductibles on insurance claims induced by superstorm Sandy’s wraith. In Harrisburg, Gov. Corbett posited the following:

“Insurance deductibles could have added significant costs to Pennsylvanians already struggling to clean up and rebuild after Hurricane Sandy…Insurance companies have deployed catastrophe teams to Pennsylvania and they have been advised that hurricane deductibles should not be applied to any homeowner’s insurance claims.”

Governor Corbett’s announcement is probably welcomed news for those Pennsylvania homeowners that carry insurance policies with mandated, specialized considerations for “hurricane” and/or “tropical storm” deductibles. Typically, these deductible categories are valued based on a percentage of the insured worth of the policyholder’s home. The insurance commissioner was reportedly pleased with the “proactive response” seen from insurance companies in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Still, homeowners need to be proactive themselves in recovering and responding to the damage induced by Sandy.

Helpful tips for anyone attempting to file a claim with their provider:

  • Assuming you’ve already begun to clean up from any damaged items/debris you absolutely need to photograph these items to help document damage.
  • If it’s necessary to begin repair work immediately (and before filing claims) on critical property/infrastructure that was damaged, do so – but only implement those repairs which are necessary for the sake of safety/functionality. This means: do what’s necessary, but avoid costly permanent repairs until you sort out your claim with your provider.
  • Follow sound documentation policies in general when dealing with the provider: document all communications, etc. You may need them later to refer to in sorting out the claim(s).
  • When filing a claim with your insurance company, expect that the insurance representative you initially speak to will need information such as your policy number in submitting the standard “notice of loss” form.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for professional legal help when it comes to dealing with your provider: Fellerman & Ciarimboli routinely helps clients with handling insurance claims of all kinds. With damage induced by unprecedented natural disasters/catastrophes, the process can be messy – after all, the damage resulting from Sandy is unprecedented and historic. If you were impacted – or your property was impacted – it would be wise to cover all bases when filing and working out claims. Scheduling an initial consultation – call our main Kingston office at (570) 714-4878 –  involves no upfront risk on your part and at the very least you can make sure you’re being as proactive as possible.

At least in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area, “Frankenstorm” didn’t induce as much flood damage as originally predicted – nevertheless, there are still thousands without power and the region was not spared from wind-related damage and human loss. In any event, now that the rebuilding phase has begun, homeowners and policyholders need to be as proactive as possible in recovering from this unprecedented weather event.

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With more than 40 years of combined experience, the personal injury attorneys at Fellerman & Ciarimboli strive to provide the best service to clients in Philadelphia, Northeast Pennsylvania, and throughout the Keystone State.

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