MANASQUAN, N.J. (PIX11) – Eight months later and many Sandy damaged homes are practically untouched since the storm because people are still waiting to get their insurance money to rebuild.
Now, PIX11 News has learned, thousands of people are being blindsided with denials even though they have foundation damage that is clearly caused by flood waters from Sandy.
And it is not their private for-profit insurance companies doing this to them. It is the federal government.
“This is a section of the foundation where it broke apart and cracked all the way down through the footings and shifted,” explained Dina Sass, a homeowner in Manasquan, N.J.
Like most homeowners who live near the water, Sass gets her flood insurance through the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program.
“When you buy into a policy that is backed by the government, you think it’s solid,” said Sass.
That is why she was shocked when her claim on the foundation damage was denied. The reason, said the insurance program, was that the damage was directly caused by earth movement. The denial went on to say “we do not insure loss of property caused directly by earth movement even if the movement is caused by flood.”
Sass said: “A flood policy, hmmm, and they exclude something that is caused by a flood? It is incredible.”
The same government program is also requiring elevation in order to insure properties in the future.
“We are required to raise our house another four feet, whole new foundation, how pay for that? It’s an incredible amount of cost,” said Sass.
A cost that could be more than $100,000 — and it would all be out of pocket.
“It’s so wrong in every way,” said longtime public adjuster Dave Charles, who says the Sass’ house is undeniably damaged. He adds that thousands of people like the Sass family are dealing with denials on their foundation damage from the federal government.
“Every aspect of that policy is written by Congress,” said Charles who thinks Congress made a mistake in recent years when they rewrote the policy and now it’s having unintended consequences on those slammed by Sandy.
“I can’t allow myself to believe that they are heinous enough to do this on purpose to so many people’” he said.
The federal insurance program says every homeowner can appeal a denial.
This claim denial problem may well take an act of Congress to fix.
“You’re talking about years and years from now and meanwhile I have three little kids, a sick husband and no house,” said Sass, shaking her head.
PIX 11 reached out to the National Flood Insurance Program through FEMA’s regional office in New York.
They told us they know about this concern but they are “not in a position to comment,” and said to get in touch with the D.C. office.
PIX11 hasn’t heard back from them.