Sandy victims see cash 3 years later

David B. Caruso
Associated Press

New York – — Many people who complained a federal insurance program shortchanged them after Superstorm Sandy swamped their homes are getting some validation three years later in the form of cash.

A Federal Emergency Management Agency review launched in the spring has been finding that many policyholders in the National Flood Insurance Program should have gotten more money to fix their homes after the Oct. 29, 2012, storm.

The examination is far from complete, but so far FEMA has found that roughly three out of five of the 17,000 policyholders eligible for the review were entitled to more money.

The amount of the underpayments varies from a few hundred dollars to more than $100,000. On average, policyholders are being offered an additional $15,000 to make up for errors by the adjusters who initially handled their claims, said Roy Wright, FEMA’s deputy associate administrator for insurance.

Common mistakes include things like failing to factor in sales tax on materials and labor, failing to account for all the damage, or misapplying the formula used to calculate the cost of debris removal.

Among those have received checks so far include Dawn and Stanley Markoski, whose house in Long Beach Township, New Jersey, filled with 27 inches of water.

Originally, the insurance company handling the couple’s claim wrote them a check for $59,000. Stanley Markoski, a former police chief in Beach Haven, said he suspected right away he had been shortchanged.

“Everybody around us was getting more money than us,” he said.

Markoski pinched pennies by doing a lot of work himself. The couple took out a $40,000 Small Business Administration disaster loan and got a $47,000 federally funded rebuilding grant. It still wasn’t enough to complete repairs.

But this month, FEMA said the family was entitled to an additional $56,000 because their original insurance adjuster hadn’t factored in sales tax or the cost of removing asbestos from the damaged house.