July 24, 2015 5:15 AM
Sandy-impacted homeowners unsatisfied with payouts from claims filed to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) can get free help understanding and navigating the process of requesting a review next week in Toms River.
The Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group (OCLTRG) has organized the clinic, which will involve lawyers and insurance experts providing one on one assistance to residents.
Half of the 140,000 FEMA flood claims are in New Jersey, and 36,000 are in Ocean County, according to Susan Marticek, OCLTRG Executive Director.
“The last number I got from FEMA was less than 9,000 people on the entire East Coast have opted in for review,” said Marticek.
Not trusting the system, feeling overwhelmed, and being burnt out are among the many reasons Marticek cited as to why she thinks people are preventing people from reopening a claim.
“We want to see a lot more people have the opportunity to get the money that is rightfully theirs,” Marticek said. She is encouraged by a handful of cases being worked on currently.
“It looks like there’s a lot of room for them to get some additional funding, and we all know that people are short money in order to put together a construction budget, so this may make a difference for a lot of people who may not make it if they don’t get extra monies,” she said.
For those still hesitant about requesting a review, Marticek, compared it to “a free swing at bat.” She added, “There is a small percentage of people that may get taken back from them, but we feel that that is such a minutia amount of people and probably those would be the people that may have done something wrong or mistakenly in the beginning.”
Marticek said there is a consistent theme from the hundreds of clients the OCLTRG’s assists, that they feel they have been underpaid by their insurance company. One example of a case she pointed out involve a homeowner who had a $175,000 policy, but only received $4,000.
“They have to rebuild their home, so it seems as though there is a lot of room in those two numbers to come up with some more money for them,” Marticek added.
The free NFIP Clinic takes place on Thursday, July 30, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., at St. Andrews United Methodist Church, 1528 Church Road, Toms River.
Appointments are recommended, by calling 732-569-3484, ext. 24. Walk-ins are welcome on a first come, first serve basis.
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