Insurance Companies May Have Altered Damage Reports

The New York Times reported this week that lawyers representing New York and New Jersey homeowners in first party insurance cases have identified hundreds of engineering reports that they believe were doctored by insurance companies seeking to wrongfully deny or underpay claims related to damages caused by Hurricane Sandy. The state’s attorney general has launched a criminal investigation, and FEMA is likewise conducting an inquiry. Click here to read the New York Times article

In November 2014, a federal judge ordered the insurance carrier defendants in over 1000 Hurricane Sandy cases to turn over all drafts of the engineering reports they relied on in adjusting the claims at issue in the lawsuits. It is in reviewing documents produced as a result of the judge’s order that lawyers for the policyholders have identified, so far, more than 500 reports they believe were altered by the insurance companies in order to support wrongful denials of valid claims.

In one particularly egregious case, lawyers discovered correspondence from an executive at the insurance carrier’s hired engineering firm instructing employees to encourage engineers they hired to work on claims to falsify documents because the engineers “made a lot of money working for us during the storm season.” In another case – the case, in fact, that led to the federal court order mentioned above – the homeowner would never have discovered the malfeasance but for a chance meeting with the engineer who originally assessed her property. The engineer showed her his initial report that differed substantially from the final version the insurance company used to deny the claim. Unfortunately, thousands of homeowners affected by Hurricane Sandy were not so fortunate; trusting their insurance company to do the right thing, they accepted the carrier’s initial settlement offer without challenging it.

None of this is surprising to the lawyers at Daly & Black, P.C. We represent hundreds of policyholders all over the country. Every day, we fight insurance companies who go to great lengths to avoid paying covered storm damage claims even though their policyholders have faithfully paid their premiums for years and who take advantage of homeowners who are stressed and vulnerable after a traumatic event.

If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of making a storm damage claim and your insurance company denies your claim or tells you certain types of damage are not covered, don’t just take their word for it. Click here to read the New York Times article then, contact us to help you get the coverage you paid for and to which you are entitled. It does not cost you a thing, and because we don’t recover a fee unless and until you are compensated, we will be as motivated as you are to see the case through to successful completion.