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Insurance Companies Use Exemption To Deny Sandy Coverage To Frustrated New Yorkers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- New figures released Tuesday said 95,000 homes on Long Island were destroyed or damaged by Superstorm Sandy, but while many are still waiting for help, back in New York City, many home and business owners have found that their insurance companies will not cover their damage.

Amanda Zink told CBS 2's Lou Young she's still fighting the flood two and a half months after Superstorm Sandy, with the provision in her insurance policy saying anything damaged by flood waters is not covered.

Items damaged by wind are covered, but items damaged by flooding are not.

"I have wind coverage, so ultimately I could've been covered if this was categorized in that certain way," Zink said. "But according to the (Hartford) Agency, it's a flood, and a flood is a flood, and I don't have flood insurance."

Insurance companies are, in fact, interpreting the flood exemption so broadly that some New Yorkers who never even got their feet wet are having their claims denied.

The flood waters never reached the junction of East 18th Street and Irving Place near Union Square in Manhattan, but the lights went out, and many of the businesses lost money because that happened.

Places such as Pete's Tavern had $58,000 in fresh food go bad. Normally, it would have been covered -- but not this time.

The owner at Pete's was told his claim was a no-go because the Con Ed substation near the East River went under, and that is why the lights went out.

Insurance broker Andy Feldman represents half a dozen Lower Manhattan clients in the same boat.

"Absolutely, it's a shock to them, and it was tough to explain when you think it's covered, and all of a sudden, they're turning it, and no, it's not covered," he said. If the same business had been in Westchester, "Yeah, they would've had coverage," he added.

The reason is that wind taking down trees that take down power line is one thing, but flooded electrical service – as happened in Lower Manhattan – is something completely different.

"It matters why the lights went out," said Loretta Worters, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute.

"I think it changes the game," added Feldman. "Everyone has to really look at what they have."

The bottom line is that the experts say when something unprecedented like this happens. it forces us to think about things we've never had to think about before.

A spokesman for Con Ed said Tuesday night that virtually all power outages in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn were the result of floods.

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