After Sandy, Home Insurers Stoop to New Lows

Representing Orlando, Tampa, Miami and Nearby Areas of Florida

Sheila and Dominic Traina have owned a home in Staten Island, NY, for 43 years. In the devastation left behind by Hurricane Sandy, the Trainas home was “crushed by falling trees and its wreckage pushed back from the street by sanitation trucks”, according to the NY Daily News.  After 43 years of paying premiums to Allstate, the Trainas probably expected that they would be compensated for their loss, and rebuild as soon as possible after this tragedy. It turns out that their insurer, Allstate, is claiming that all but $10,000 of the damage was caused by flooding, and therefore offering them only $10,000 for the loss of their home and all of their possessions, citing the “flood exclusion” in the Trainas policy.

We know that insurers will bend over backwards to deny claims, and we have seen that after hurricanes, ambiguous language is often interpreted in whatever way minimizes their liability to policyholders. Many folks sign for “hurricane endorsements” and pay “hurricane deductibles”, and expect this to mean that their home is covered in the event of a hurricane, while elsewhere in the fine print of their policy lies a “flood exclusion” like the one Allstate is citing to deny the Trainas’ claim. This ambiguous and contradictory language leaves room for insurers like Allstate to claim that homes lying in a shambles, crushed by falling trees and shoved to and fro by bulldozers, were destroyed by a flood.

Florida has seen its share of home insurance claims denied in similar fashion. What makes this particular claim notable is the salt that Allstate proceeded to pour on the Traina family’s wounds, after faithfully cashing their premium checks for 43 years. Allstate offered the Traina family only $10,000 for the total loss of their home and possessions. Then they filmed an Allstate commercial featuring footage of the Traina’s devastated home, with a company spokesperson touting the fact that “you are in good hands with Allstate”.

Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter represent homeowners whose claims have been unfairly denied by insurance companies. While Allstate’s behavior in this case is particularly appalling, the methods they are using to minimize liability are nearly universal among home insurers. If you feel you have a homeowner’s insurance claim denied unfairly, call our office for a free consultation.

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