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ALERT: Update on Hurricane Sandy Claims in New Jersey

July 25, 2014

In Brusco v. Harleysville Ins. Co., 1:14-cv-00914, a suit handled by attorneys other than Zarwin Baum, the court dealt with the adjustment of an insurance claim under a policy placed through the National Flood Insurance Program, the New Jersey Federal District Court upheld the one year statute of limitations in the National Flood Insurance Act and dismissed plaintiff’s claim for breach of contract arising out of claim for damages resulting from Hurricane Sandy.  Plaintiff had a standard policy issued under the NFIA and when the carrier paid only a portion of his damages and denied the rest, he brought suit.  He alleged two breach of contract claims, one under state law and one under the National Flood Insurance Act (“NFIA”).  The Court found that the NFIA preempted state law and therefore dismissed his state law claims.  The Court also applied the one year limitations period in the NFIA to deny the plaintiff’s federal breach of contract claim.  Plaintiff had received a check and a denial letter on December 13, 2012 but did not file suit until February 12, 2014.  The Court thus dismissed the federal breach of contract claim as well.

Practice Tip:  To the extent that a claim received by a carrier issuing a policy under the NFIA is based in whole or in part on a written denial of any portion of the claim, the carrier and its counsel should carefully review when the denial was issued as compared to the filing of the suit and consider a motion to dismiss based on the one year statute of limitations.

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