A crowd of concerned residents overflowed into the halls around the East Rockaway Village Hall courtroom on Dec. 12 at a standing-room-only community meeting hosted by State Assemblyman Brian Curran, Hempstead Town Councilman Anthony Santino and East Rockaway Mayor Francis T. Lenahan. The meeting focused on the continuing recovery from Hurricane Sandy, and the topics ranged from insurance claims to the storm-ravaged Bay Park Sewage Plant.
County Legislators Howard Kopel and Fran Becker; town, state and local governmental officials; representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and environmental consultants were also in attendance.
The first speaker, Scott Mager, said he had a unique perspective, having been through 12 storms — including a Category 5 hurricane — and seen every kind of problem and complaint. “I was a national former counsel for one of the largest insurance companies in the world,” said Mager, an attorney who is also a well-know inspirational speaker. “But now I sue insurance companies!”
Mager said he had flown to New York at his own expense because “I care, and because I’m maybe one of the few people in the world that understands what you need to do.” He said he helps residents who are frustrated and angry with their insurance companies. “Your congressman is getting the same information as you,” he said. “They can’t help you.”
Mager urged residents to be proactive with their insurance claims. “Your ability to pursue claims aggressively is the secret to your getting your money,” he said. He stressed documenting any exchanges between homeowner and adjuster. “Follow up everything with a letter … take pictures of everything, then take more pictures — take 500 if you have to. Start to build a clear and understandable case.”
He suggested that if residents don’t get the results they want, they should turn to a public adjuster or an attorney. “A public adjuster can negotiate, then negotiate some more. A lawyer is more expensive, but they have more fiduciary duty to you.”