When she reported this to her insurance company, she was told that she would receive her full coverage amount, $250,000. Ecstatic, she began gutting the house and preparing to rebuild. A few days later, however, she received a call from her insurance adjuster telling her that she would not receive the full coverage. Kinsley said her insurance company told her that her house would have to be “washed into the ocean” in order to receive the full amount.
“The insurance system is broken,” she said. “We’ve all been sold a really big lie.”
After three months without receiving any money through her flood insurance, Kinsley lost patience with the system, she said, and decided to make a point. She wrapped her house in red tape two weeks ago, and put up signs reading, “Robbed by the Feds” and “Cut the red tape.” It was a symbolic statement on behalf of everyone in Long Beach, she said. And the movement seems to have caught on after Kinsley’s effort received media attention. Photos of her house are being shared on Facebook, and neighbors have joined her effort, adorning their front doors with red ribbons in a show of solidarity.
“I think she is speaking for a lot of people,” said County Legislator Denise Ford, a West End resident. “I think that it took guts for her to do what she did, and I think she’s given hope to a lot of people that they’re not alone in this.”
Ford said that her office had fielded a number of calls from residents who are experiencing similar problems. Many Long Beach residents, especially in the West End, are still displaced, she said, and are having trouble getting a timely response — or any response at all — from their insurance companies.
“It’s demoralizing,” said Ford. “I never in my life thought I’d be having to jump through these hoops. My heart breaks for those who are in this battle.”
Kinsley said she believes there’s a gap between the people who sell flood insurance and FEMA. It is her hope, she said, that her demonstration will change the way insurance policies are written, and that insurance companies will be held accountable for their performance in the wake of Sandy.