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Battle of Insurance Claims Follows Long After Battering by Sandy

FEMA now agrees with 80 percent of the homeowners who say they were underpaid.

Three and a half years after superstorm Sandy devastated much of the Jersey Shore and Long Island’s Atlantic shore, many homeowners say they are still in limbo, unable to rebuild because of inadequate payments from federal storm insurance.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which originally supported about 75 percent of the determinations made by the insurance companies that administer the program, recently reopened 19,000 claims by dissatisfied homeowners and has been siding with them 80 percent of the time.

Insurance companies, paid fees by the government to collect premiums and write policies, did very well.

WNYC, the National Public Radio station in New York, and the PBS show “Frontline” cooperated in an investigation of the debacle, looking at the history of the flood insurance program, how it works, and why insurance companies might low-ball homeowners when the money does not come out of their pockets.

Some in New Jersey are making mortgage payments on houses that are still uninhabitable. Doug Quinn of Toms River, NJ, is doing that on a house that was demolished shortly after Sandy hit in October 2012. He said he originally thought his house would be rebuilt in a few months.

Read the full story on WNYC Public Radio, a content partner of NJ Spotlight.

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