A lot of business owners affected by 2012’s Superstorm Sandy have run into disappointment while negotiating insurance claims in the aftermath of the disaster. Jerry Blavat, a well-known Philadelphia-area radio icon and owner of the Memories nightclub in Margate, New Jersey, is among them, having received an initial offer from the insurance company that his public adjustor called “definitely a joke.” In response to these difficulties, Blavat has now launched a lawsuit against the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
In the lawsuit, Blavat claims that the agency mishandled his commercial insurance claim and underestimated the losses his business suffered in the storm. The agency, which provides assistance to those affected by natural disasters, doesn’t handle claims directly. Instead, FEMA handles claims through private insurance companies, which often make it difficult for commercial clients to recoup their losses adequately.
Attorney Bill Voss of the Voss Law Firm has worked with multiple clients who have run into these and other issues while negotiating their Superstorm Sandy claims. He says that commercial settlement offers are often low, and some insurers will even attempt to compensate a meager 10 percent on these kinds of claims. “The insurance companies have a systematic approach to delay, deny and underpay claims whenever a large loss occurs,” Voss says.
Blavat, who saw four feet of flood waters fill the first floor of his nightclub, is not the first business owner to sue FEMA over Sandy-related insurance claims, and he is unlikely to be the last. Voss asserts that “There’s more coming,” and he expects the Voss Law Firm to file over a thousand lawsuits related to Superstorm Sandy damage before all is said and done.
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