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212 Hooper Avenue, Toms River, New Jersey 08753
Berry, Sahradnik, Kotzas & Benson, P.C.
To speak with someone now call 732-504-3056
After Superstorm Sandy: Tips on Recovery

After Superstorm Sandy: Tips on Recovery

Notifying the Tax Assessor

If you have had a structure destroyed or damaged as a result of Superstorm Sandy, you should notify the municipal tax assessor. This should be done so that the value of the property can be determined as of January 1, 2013 (so you are not paying taxes based upon damaged and/or destroyed property). Such notice must be given no later than January 10, 2013. Use {link to form} Property Tax Assessment Review Form -Tax Year 2013 - Material Damage Statement

Dealing with Contractors

If you plan to file a claim to cover home repairs to be completed by a contractor, the contractor must be licensed and insured in the state of New Jersey. All contracts must be in writing and have start and end dates explicitly stated. In addition, all changes (to the original contract) must be in writing and the contractor's registration number must appear on the contract.

Condemning a Property

Under certain circumstances, the government is authorized to seize property. In order to receive appropriate and timely compensation, the individual must file a legal action to compel condemnation.

Deducting Casualty Losses

A casualty loss is a type of tax loss that is a sudden, unexpected, or unusual event. If you have suffered a casualty loss as a result of Superstorm Sandy, you may deduct that loss on your tax return. However, that loss must exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income for that tax year by at least $100.

Please note that damage or loss resulting from progressive deterioration of property through a steadily operating cause would not be considered a casualty loss. "Casualty events" are events such as fire, storm, or shipwreck.

Processing Insurance Claims

In processing insurance claims related to the damage inflicted by (Superstorm) Sandy, there are a number of "Dos" and "Don'ts" that are critical:

  • Don't assume that notice to your insurance agent is the same as notifying your insurance company
  • Do put your insurance company on written notice immediately – even if the claim will be filed at a later date. Delaying notification runs the risk of being denied.
  • You do have a responsibility to mitigate your losses. Therefore, it is important to contact your insurer and request its consent for you to take the measures necessary to protect your property.
  • Do be aware that there is often a minimum and maximum time limit in which you may bring suit. This may actually be shorter than the statute of limitations.
  • Do always read the entire policy to review exclusions.
  • Do submit interim and partial claims, but also make clear that the claim(s) is not final.
  • Do document all losses
  • Don't discard damaged property
  • Do get several bids on all work to be done
  • Do separate all undamaged property

It is important to note that the fact that the storm was not categorized as a hurricane may have a huge impact on deductibles.

Entering Rental Agreements

If Superstorm Sandy has necessitated that you enter into a rental agreement, you should be aware that the security deposit on a New Jersey residential lease cannot exceed 1 ½ times the monthly rent. The security deposit must be placed in an interest bearing account and that interest must be shared with the tenant annually.

In addition, the landlord must inform you as to the name of the bank in which the deposit is being held and must file a landlord registration statement with the municipality, a copy of which should be provided to you. Many towns require a certificate of occupancy every time a dwelling is rented.

About Flood Insurance

If your home has been flooded as a result Superstorm Sandy or you are considering purchasing flood insurance in the aftermath of the storm, it is important to be aware of the following:

  • Flood insurance must be purchased separately
  • Flood insurance is not a guaranteed replacement cost policy (i.e., recovery for full damages to the property may not be possible)
  • You can choose from among a number of deductible options
  • Deductibles apply separately to building and to property damage
  • Claim receipts for major purchases can prove very useful
  • Flood insurance does not cover:
  • Damage caused by moisture, mildew or mold which could have been avoided by the owner are not insured
    • Currency, precious metals and valuable papers are not insured
    • Property outside of a building (e.g., swimming pools, wells, decks)
    • Living expenses for temporary housing
    • Business interruption coverage
    • Most self-propelled vehicles
  • Owners of "severe repetitive loss properties" may be eligible for a FEMA mitigation grant for property improvements
  • If the community declares your home "substantially damaged" or "repetitively damaged" by a flood, you will be required to bring your property up to current community standards. However, "ICC" coverage of up to $30,000 is available to offset such costs.

If you have suffered damages as a result of Superstorm Sandy and need help in addressing any issues, it is advisable to contact an attorney regarding your legal rights. If you would like to speak with a representative from Berry, Sahradnik, Kotzas & Benson please contact us at 732-349-4800.

Berry, Sahradnik, Kotzas & Benson, P.C.
212 Hooper Avenue
Toms River, New Jersey, 08753 USA