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Hurricane Deductibles Don't Apply to Sandy Insurance Claims

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Superstorm Sandy’s destruction has homeowners wondering about claims, deductibles, and insurance policies since some sources say winds were strong enough for hurricane status, and others say it was not hurricane at the time of landfall.

Melissa Fox, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance, said some insurance companies in the commonwealth have hurricane, tropical storm or "named storm" deductibles.

“These are in addition to your wind deductibles that are already in place in your homeowners policies,” Fox said.  “What happened is when Sandy hit the shores, it technically wasn’t a hurricane.”  But that is even up for debate because Sandy might have had sustaining top winds of 80 mph which would have made it a Category 1 hurricane when it came ashore.

Fox said not many homeowners policies even have hurricane deductibles, but for those that do, insurance companies are waiving the deductible on claims made as a direct result of the superstorm in Pennsylvania.

“So bear in mind there’s still going to be a deductible in place for your standard wind damage, but if you have an insurance policy that has these extra hurricane or tropical storm or wind deductibles, insurance companies cannot apply those deductibles to your claim,” Fox said.

Fox said if homeowners have any damage to their property, start the claims process as soon as possible by taking pictures or videos of the damage.  She also advised not to make any permanent repairs to homes until the claims process is complete.  If making temporary repairs, like fixing a blown-out window, keep receipts and don’t throw anything away.  Overall, she said, be patient.

“Because a lot of individuals have been affected by this, the insurance companies do have their [catastrophe] teams deployed to get to as many policy holders as quickly as possible, but it could take some time,” Fox said.

If homeowners suspect their clam has been wrongfully denied or have any questions about making a claim to their insurance company, they should contact the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance’s consumer hotline at 877-881-6388.