Court documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Central Islip show that the Standard Fire Insurance Company, which, according to the Bloomberg/Businessweek News Service, is a subsidiary of Travelers, repeatedly denied the couple’s claim. And, the Weisses said, company officials refuse to negotiate a settlement, leaving them with no insurance money to rebuild their home.
Calls to attorneys for the Standard Fire Insurance Company had not been returned at press time.
A long, arduous road
The Weisses are suing Travelers. Their case now sits in U.S. District Court. An attorney who is a family friend is representing them, pro bono. The Weisses are paying the court fees. Standard Fire Insurance hired two law firms –– in New York City and Philadelphia –– to fight the Weisses.
David explained that insurance companies write flood insurance policies, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency oversees the National Flood Insurance Program. So, in effect, he said, “The government, instead of paying us to fix our home, is paying all these law firms” to deny their claim.
He added that it is up to Congress to eliminate the earth-movement clause. He noted that the insurance carriers would not fight claims like theirs if they were not instructed to do so by the federal government. “They wouldn’t be interpreting the laws this way if they weren’t told to interpret the laws this way,” he said.
After months of fruitless attempts to secure an insurance settlement, the Weisses reluctantly applied for a 30-year, low-interest Small Business Administration loan to begin rebuilding their home.
All they want, they said, is a home similar to their old one –– without “big debt.” That hope appeared out of reach until last week, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state’s Housing Recovery Program would “fully compensate” homeowners whose homes were damaged by Tropical Storms Irene and Lee or Superstorm Sandy –– and who were not paid by their insurance companies owing to the earth-movement exclusion.