Out in the Cold: New Jersey Attorneys Console & Hollawell See Homeowner Vulnerabilities as Hurricane Sandy Claims Begin

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Insurance adjusters are people in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy with thousands of New Jersey homeowners expected to file claims stemming from damage caused by the storm. New Jersey hurricane injury lawyer Richard P. Console Jr. has seen misleading insurance practices play out in previous natural disasters, all at the expense of policyholders.

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Even homeowners with ‘hurricane insurance’ may find out they’re completely unprotected from water-damage losses. Homes and businesses along the Jersey Shore may be extremely vulnerable.

Insurance adjusters are people in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy with thousands of New Jersey homeowners expected to file claims stemming from damage caused by the storm. With The Times Union* stating the storm is expected to tally national repair bills in excess of $30 billion, homeowners may find themselves on the receiving end of deceptive practices by insurance adjusters attempting lower payouts for their employers. New Jersey hurricane injury lawyer Richard P. Console Jr. has seen misleading insurance practices play out in previous natural disasters, all at the expense of policyholders.

“Homeowners faced with significant storm damage may find out their homeowner’s insurance policy doesn’t cover their losses,” said Console. “Policies may cover damage to their homes caused by wind, but not by water. Even homeowners with ‘hurricane insurance’ may find out they’re completely unprotected from water-damage losses. Homes and businesses along the Jersey Shore may be extremely vulnerable.”

Understanding a homeowner’s insurance policy can be difficult for the average consumer who doesn’t have a background in insurance underwriting or banking. Console advised examining policies to look for “excluded events,” which limit covered damages even on coverage alleging to protect properties from “all risks.” Such exclusions existed on homeowner insurance policies in Louisiana and other states along the Gulf Coast in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck the area. Policies for homeowners at that time covered wind damage, though eliminated covered wind damage if it occurred alongside a non-covered event. Console, whose firm of insurance bad faith attorneys has helped more than 5,000 accident victims, explained the anti-concurrent causation clause, and how insurance companies used those exemptions to limit coverage.

“An anti-concurrent clause eliminates a covered event when a non-covered event occurs simultaneously to cause damage to the property,” said Console. “Basically, the insurance company says wind damage couldn’t have happened without water damage in a hurricane, so the entire loss isn’t covered. That kind of trickery has been hotly contested in courts since Hurricane Katrina. Policyholders who feel they were intentionally deceived by their insurer about their coverage may have grounds to bring a lawsuit against the company. Imagine losing everything only to discover that the insurance policy you paid for to protect your investment isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. We could see that happen along the Jersey Shore.”

Reviewing homeowner’s policies for covered and non-covered events is essential for storm victims in New Jersey and along the East Coast to understand their rights. Homeowners wishing to purchase flood insurance to cover damage from future bad weather may be able obtain coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program.

Richard P. Console Jr. is the managing partner of Console & Hollawell P.C., a New Jersey personal injury law firm serving victims of significant storms since 1994. Attorneys working for the practice have developed a reputation for aggressive pursuit of at-fault parties, including insurance companies engaging in bad faith tactics.

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