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Headache Insurance

How to handle repairs and reimbursement, post-Nor’easter

By Rashed Mian

Although they began flocking to beaches last weekend to enjoy the early spring, many Long Islanders are still going through the process of fixing their homes after taking a beating at the windy hands of the Nor’easter weeks ago.

The storm, which brought hurricane-type winds to JFK, hit Long Island with a fury. Gusts took their toll on trees saturated from the torrential downpours and numerous snowstorms, knocking down power lines and damaging homes. Some homeowners had holes in their roofs, while others dealt with flooded basements.


The resulting ruin has led LIers to seek help. Steven Croutch, a public adjuster with Advanced Public Adjusters in Great Neck, has been “unbelievably busy” with phone calls. “The South Shore got rocked,” he says.

Croutch has been getting inquiries from homeowners after they contacted their insurance companies with hopes of getting the money needed to fix their homes. He says the first step in the process is to call the insurance company, get a claim number and make sure to get an estimate.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises homeowners to immediately take pictures and keep track of damages to the house. They also recommend keeping all receipts of purchases made to take care of minor damages.

Residents forced to stay in a hotel can breathe a sigh of relief, because they can be reimbursed in the future. Again, receipts are key to getting your money back, so ask for an extra copy when checking out. Insurance companies can also reimburse homeowners for food and other living expenses.

The BBB also explains that homeowners shouldn’t make permanent repairs themselves before talking to an insurance adjuster, because without knowledge of what damage was done, they may not reimburse you for expenses.

Croutch, who has been a public adjuster for more than 40 years, advises people who get an estimate of $10,000 or more to contact a public adjuster. They will make it easier to get the money needed to cover damages.

“If anybody thinks their losses are over $10,000 they should not try to do it themselves. They should try to get professional help,” says Croutch. “There are loads and loads of things in the policy that insurance companies don’t make people aware of.”

He recently got a call from a homeowner who suffered damages totaling $140,000, but was only given and estimate of $20,000 to cover all the damages.

With power out for days and new skylights installed by Mother Nature herself, it may be hard for some Islanders to keep a cool head knowing they will have to pay for all these damages. Taking the process step by step and knowing all your options will help. Work with an insurance adjuster and don’t take anything for granted. The two biggest things are to take pictures of all damages before moving anything and keep all documents of any purchases. Staying calm will only help when it comes to dealing with your insurance company.

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