If you are facing litigation with your insurance carrier over Hurricane Sandy damage, you are not alone. Public Service Enterprise Group, the parent company of PSE&G – the largest utility company in the state, filed suit recently against eleven insurers in Essex County, New Jersey. In the complaint, PSE&G alleges it had $1 billion worth of coverage and they are being shortchanged on an estimated $426 million worth of Sandy damages. The lawsuit is only in its beginning stages and, given the backlog and judge shortage in Essex County, this case is a long way from any resolution.
I have had many homeowners ask me why their insurance carrier has singled them out for mistreatment. This filing should demonstrate to homeowners they have not been singled out at all. Rather, this just further demonstrates the insurance industry’s abysmal response to Hurricane Sandy. I would expect more high profile cases to be filed in the coming months as we approach the one year anniversary of the storm. I hope this filing and the others that come will bolster the spirit of underpaid insureds and remind them they are not alone in the fight.
Finally, this is not the only litigation PSE&G will be involved in as a result of Hurricane Sandy – although the rest may not be as a party. I have been contacted by numerous business owners concerning losses they suffered from utility interruption. Many policies that cover such losses have strict exclusions. Many carriers are improperly shifting the burden of proof on exclusions to the insured, which means there will be litigation. PSE&G will then be called upon to prove how and when certain business owners lost their utilities. It will be interesting to see if the evidence brought forth in the suit PSE&G filed against their insurers will be helpful to the insured seeking coverage for utilities interruption.