How Bill Kelly Went to Bat for Superstorm Sandy Victims
Nature can be beautiful. But it can also turn a person’s entire world upside down in a matter of hours, leaving behind destruction, devastation and despair. That’s exactly what happened to thousands of families after Superstorm Sandy swooped in and changed their lives forever. The 2012 superstorm caused an estimated $65 billion in damage but the emotional grief homeowners endured from their insurance companies in the aftermath was worse.
Bill Kelly’s family home in Rockaway was at Sandy’s ground zero. Bill’s fellow homeowners were getting the run around from their insurance carriers. At the insistence of his friends and neighbors, Bill took up the fight but told his clients from the start to be prepared for a long, hard battle. Bill’s legal team exposed widespread misconduct by insurance companies. Thousands of homeowner insurance claims were wrongfully denied because of fraudulent engineering reports. Insurers hired unscrupulous engineering companies to evaluate the damage. The insurance companies claimed the damage was preexisting rather than caused by the storm. The result was thousands of claims denied and the insurance companies tried to pass the financial burden to homeowners when they were already down. After years of litigation, Bill’s team stopped the insurance companies in their tracks. As a result of this important litigation, Senate hearings were held regarding how the National Flood Insurance Program mistreated homeowners after Sandy. The historic litigation was covered by 60 Minutes in a story profiling Bill’s clients and on Frontline. Bill helped 1,000 Sandy victims through this process.
Litigation can be an arduous process. “Fighting the insurance industry, especially with flood insurance backed by FEMA, is an uphill battle” says Kelly. “There are very strict rules, regulations, laws and deadlines in place for federally backed flood policies.” Kelly says his clients weren’t looking for trouble – they just wanted to be treated fairly. “Our clients just wanted to be paid what they were owed. They paid premiums for years.” says Kelly. “Our clients were not looking for anything extraordinary or windfalls, they simply wanted to get the money they were owed so they could begin to rebuild their homes and lives.”
What can homeowners learn from Sandy? Watch your insurance company carefully after disaster strikes. “You must be the watchdog,” Kelly says. “The importance of doing your own research, making your own decisions, and staying involved with your insurance claim cannot be overstated.” Finally, don’t be afraid to fight for what’s yours. Consider obtaining legal counsel to help represent your interests. “Don’t get so discouraged that you settle for less than you are owed,” Kelly stresses. “Insist on a fair investigation and evaluation of your claim. If you feel too overwhelmed by the process, consider hiring legal counsel to get you every dollar you deserve to restore your home.”
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