Sandy Insurance Dispute Mediation Recovers $3.42 Million for Homeowners
Wednesday, January, 15, 2014
Superstorm Sandy hit New Jersey hard in the Fall of 2012, causing immense damage to homes throughout the State and leaving many residents with nothing but insurance claims to their name. While the majority of claims were settled amicably, a large number of residents saw their claims denies for what seemed like technicalities – such as the distinction between wind damage and storm damage – or with settlement amounts much lower than their actual rebuilding costs. In order to prevent a flood of lawsuits from clogging up the court systems, the State established an official mediation process for homeowners to bring their insurance disputes to.
Recently, the program announced that 521 mediations have been completed, recovering $3.42 million for homeowners in additional insurance settlements. The average payout was $16,015.
While the State is calling these numbers a success story for mediation, some critics have pointed out that the average payout is just 16 cents on the dollar for claims, meaning that if an average homeowner received $16,000, their actual damage claim would have been $100,000.
State officials counter that most of these homeowners would have received nothing without the mediation process, and that this simultaneously kept the courts clear while getting homeowners some funds to begin rebuilding and allowing them to now apply for State and Federal grants. The mediation process is ongoing, with more than 200 claims still waiting to be reviewed.