Editor's Note: The following is a news release that was issued this past week by the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance.
Department of Banking and Insurance Acting Commissioner Ken Kobylowski has provided information in an effort to help explain the Hurricane Sandy claims process. To date, more than 458,000 New Jersey homeowner’s, auto, business and flood claims have been filed since the unprecedented storm made landfall.
“Settling your claim fairly is a key step in reconstructing your home, repairing your car or restarting your business,” said Acting Commissioner Kobylowski.
“The Christie Administration is working with the insurance industry, its federal partners and insurance consumers to eliminate confusion and reduce stress as much as possible throughout the rebuilding effort. I have joined Department staff in the Governor’s mobile office units and met with consumers to discuss their claims filing issues. We will continue to assist citizens out in the field, online and on the phone through our extended hour consumer service center as New Jersey recovers and people restore their livelihood and homes.”
The Claims Process
- A homeowner’s policy covers damage to your home and its contents while a renter’s policy only covers contents. If your car was damaged, a separate claim is required to be filed with your auto insurer.
- The standard homeowner’s or renter’s policy does not cover flood damage. If you have a policy with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), contact your agent or insurer to file a claim for that policy as well. You need to file a separate claim even if done through a Write Your Own policy from your insurer. Damage from a storm surge is considered flood damage.
- After reporting your claim, an adjuster will visit your home to assess the damage. The adjuster will want to see all damaged items removed from the home and any photos or video of contents removed to make the home safe. The more information provided about the loss, the faster the claim process is usually settled.
- If your insurer has not responded promptly to your claim, do not hesitate to call the claims department to find out if an adjuster has been assigned. Call the Department of Banking and Insurance if you do not think your insurance company is responding quickly enough, or completing a reasonable investigation of your claim. The NFIP has oversight of flood claims handling, however the Department may act as an ombudsman for citizens having difficulty settling flood claims.
- If you decide to hire a public adjuster, the adjuster will go through the same process and take his or her fee from the insurance claim settlement. Make sure the public adjuster you hire is licensed by the Department by calling or verifying online at: https://www16.state.nj.us/DOBI_LicSearch/.
- If there are disagreements between you, the insurer and the adjuster, try to first resolve them with your insurer. Do not feel rushed or pushed to agree with something you do not feel is fair. If you cannot reach an agreement with your carrier, contact the Department for assistance.
- You may receive multiple checks. The first will likely be an emergency advance on the larger payment. Contents or personal property reimbursement will be made out to you. If there is a mortgage on your home, payment for structural damage may be payable to you and your mortgage holder. Make sure you have the proper procedure in place with your mortgage company to process the payment as quickly as possible.
More Information: If you have any questions about the coverage in your policy, or if you need help with a problem regarding your claim following a disaster at your home, contact the Department at 1-800-446-7467 or go online at www.dobi.nj.gov<http://www.dobi.nj.gov/>. For information on handling your flood insurance claim through the NFIP, go to www.floodsmart.gov<http://www.floodsmart.gov/>.