If your association was damaged by Superstorm Sandy, and a claim has been made under a flood policy, you may now be hearing from your insurance company about the coverage being provided. It may not be good news.

Flood policies are separate and distinct from other polices that an association may have. Years ago, private insurance companies got out of the business of writing flood policies, and so the federal government stepped in and began underwriting flood insurance. Although sold by private insurance companies, flood policies are backed and governed by FEMA. As such, they have a different set of limits, rules and procedures, and can be a trap for the unwary. Some industry experts believe that flood claims are routinely undervalued.

Typically, flood policies require the filing of a Proof of Loss within sixty (60) days from the date of the damage. However, in the case of Superstorm Sandy, the deadline for filing a claim has been extended to one year from the date of damage. This deadline is jurisdictional and cannot be extended. The Proof of Loss form can be difficult to complete and requires substantial back up and documentation. In addition, once a claim under a Proof of Loss has been denied or partially denied, you will have only one year to file a lawsuit, and the lawsuit must be filed in Federal Court. If you have received a check for less than the amount claimed, your time to challenge that award has started running.

Many of you may have been contacted by a public adjuster. A public adjuster’s primary role is to help submit a claim, and some in the industry believe they offer little or no value beyond that function. In addition, public adjusters cannot challenge an award under a policy. You will need an attorney who can pursue your rights in Federal Court.