Restoring the Northeast: What Homeowners Need to Know After Sandy

This article is written by Erik Braunitzer, a writer for Douglas Elliman, brokers for NYC, Long Island and Hamptons Real Estate.

New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware continue to experience devastating consequences of Sandy as a new nor’easter closely followed the hurricane. Homeowners have filed millions of claims, and the estimated damage is somewhere in the billions. Despite these two storms, homeowners must rebuild, but many look at their flooded and broken homes as impossible scenes of destruction. Getting started is just half the battle.


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This article is written by Erik Braunitzer, a writer for Douglas Elliman, brokers for NYC, Long Island and Hamptons Real Estate.

New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware continue to experience devastating consequences of Sandy as a new nor’easter closely followed the hurricane. Homeowners have filed millions of claims, and the estimated damage is somewhere in the billions. Despite these two storms, homeowners must rebuild, but many look at their flooded and broken homes as impossible scenes of destruction. Getting started is just half the battle.

Where to Begin
Once allowed to return to a dwelling, homeowners need to check that it is safe to inhabit the structure. The damage must be assessed right away. Debris, flood waters and other wreckage may have left your home unstable. With down power lines, fallen trees and uprooted trees, homes can still suffer other forms of destruction weeks later after a storm. Only a home inspection can determine whether or not your home is truly safe to inhabit. In addition, inspectors let you know what kind of damage your home has suffered and what parts of your home need to be immediately restored, which will allow a homeowner to file a substantial claim.

Talking to Insurance Companies
The next step is to file the claim. If you were unable to get a copy of your claim before the storm, you should be able to request a copy over the phone or talk about your coverage options. In addition, take pictures of all damage and debris with detailed notes. These come in handy when insurance companies send out appraisers to estimate the cost of repairs. With pictures and evidence, you can often get a bigger amount from the insurance companies to help repair your home.

Avoid Scavenging Contractors
It’s a sad but true fact that contractors come to life in the aftermath of destructive storms. Many repair companies swoop in offering all kinds of deals and promising much more to homeowners who just need help. If you need substantial work on your home, you still want to check out references and really get to know contractors before signing any contract for work. You also need to obtain formal quotes with written materials and labor costs. Contractors should be licensed, bonded and insured to work on your property.

Getting the Money
After the appraiser estimates the damage, you need to provide proof of physical loss with photo documentation as well. Once you provide all the evidence to the insurance company, you pay a deductible and the insurance provider sends a payment to replace damaged property. This process can take up to 3 weeks or more, depending on whether you accept the initial appraisal, so filing early is recommended. In addition, if the deductible is too high, pay for the repairs on your own instead of going through the insurance company.

Pay Attention to Time
Cleanup is never easy after a storm, but mold and further damage can follow quickly if you don’t take necessary precautions to protect your home. In addition, filing a claim, particularly on flooding, has a time limit, so it’s best to get documentation early and start the process. Some insurance companies do extend time following a destructive event, but you should never wait to take photos and start documenting the damage to your property.

Prepare for the Next Storm
If you don’t already have a plan formulated, you need to write an emergency plan right away and start restocking your supplies to survive subsequent storms. Many families following Sandy were not prepared for the winter storm. Stocking up on water, non-perishable food items, clothes, blankets and batteries can seriously help when another storm arrives. In addition, remember important documents and place these somewhere safe, such as a deposit box.

Thinking of buying or selling a home in Sussex County?  Give us a call at Cooper Real Estate Associates and put us to work for you — 302-629-6693.

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