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Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Cut the red tape!
Long Beach resident fed up with insurance company
By Alexandra Spychalsky
Kristie Arden/Herald
Photos by Kristie Arden/Herald Pennsylvania Avenue resident Sam Kinsley placed red tape on her home in a display of frustration with her flood insurance company.

More than three months after Hurricane Sandy, West End resident Sam Kinsley has reached her breaking point — and she wants the world to know it.

“[Long Beach] is a community of hard-working people,” said Kinsley. “They’re not looking for bailouts like the government gave to Wall Street and the banks. They’re just looking for a return on their money that they paid in premiums.”

After months of getting the “run-around” from her insurance company, Kinsley decided to wrap her Pennsylvania Avenue home in red tape, symbolizing the bureaucratic delays that she says are preventing her from receiving insurance money for her storm-ravaged house.

“Before the storm was even over, [President Obama] went on television and said, ‘We’re going to do everything we can to make sure there is no red tape and cut through the bureaucracy,’” Kinsley said. “Over 100 days later and that’s far from the case.”

Kinsley’s frustration is shared by many others in Long Beach. In what has become a common theme in the months following the hurricane, residents have expressed frustration with their insurance companies.

On Monday, Sen. Charles Schumer held a press conference in Lindenhurst, calling on the Federal Emergency Management Agency to immediately expedite the processing of Sandy-related flood insurance claims through the National Flood Insurance Program — which is administered by FEMA. Schumer said that 100 days after the storm, only 52 percent of New Yorkers’ flood claims have been fully processed.

“New Yorkers have been paying their flood insurance premiums for years and years, and they deserve far better service than they’re getting from the companies that are so well compensated to implement our flood insurance program,” Schumer said in a statement. “Families who saw their homes flooded and their possessions washed away need these payouts to rebuild.”

Kinsley’s home was flooded with four feet of water during the storm, she said, adding that city building inspectors told her that 77 percent of the house was damaged.


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This family needs to get a better understanding of how flood insurance works. Insurance companies pay out to bring your home to the condition of pre-Sandy. In other words, the insurance company is paying the policy holder to repair the home. Its not designed to build you a new home. I know this because I am experiencing it. We did not receive our total policy because our home was not washed away, we are being paid to repair our home. We will need to take out loans to build a new home. Its very simple.

Thursday, February 14, 2013 | Report this

Problem is she is just misinformed. Insurance companies DO NOT sell flood insurance. FEMA through NFIP does and they use brokers. If you go on FEMA/NFIP site you can actually pull up the insurance adjusters handbook where it tells you exactly what you can be paid for. For instance, no furniture in basement, Carpeting gets depreciated, but furnance does not. Also goes on to what types of personal property is covered. One has to just print out handbook and follow along.

Oddly, her house looks good to me, roof is on, windows and siding undamaged. She got four feet of water, I got 5.5 feet of water in my house. Unlike rich folk like her I did not have flood insurance. Uncle Sam was nice enough to pay me 31.9k.

I put in a new den, new bathroom, new laundry room, new boiler, new hotwater heater, new oil tank, new sheetrock, new insulation, new ceiling, new electric panel, new furniture, mold abatement, three new doors, etc etc. all for around 55k. Total.

Guess what I took a month off work, I worked 12 hours a day 7 days a week and wife and kids helped. I fronted the money for repairs. I hired folks to assist me and I self contracted. No charities or anything. I took FEMA handbook out and for that much damage I estimated I would have got paid 70K.

My neighbors all want Servepro, dumpster service, maids to clean, top notch contractors, licensed top of line electricians, new furniture, new paint, whole new kitchens etc. Basically an extreme home makeovers. Many are fighting with insurance companies. They are viewing this as a cash out.

I would love to see a stat showing on a block where all houses got the same amount of water the total cost of repair for folks without flood insurance vs folks with flood insurance the cost to repair homes.

My buddy bought an estate sale in Long Beach Bungalow a few years ago, too a few weeks off work, gutted whole thing and with help of a few handyman folks, he redid whole thing for 20K. Those places are small. Home Depot/Lowes quality stuff, Self Contract, hire some folks even out of HD parking lot to help you with hanging kitchen cabinets, sheetrock on ceiling is all he needed.

250K is crazy. Look at my nassauproperty and you will see many bungalows assessed at 350k where land is valued at 275K and house only 75K. They are little bungalows without a basement.

Also she has advantage of free rent in apt above bar by claiming that, folks like me had to get back into house quick.

We might be better off completely killing flood insurance.

Friday, February 15, 2013 | Report this

I love how people feel the power of sitting at a computer and hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet to bash people for things. Since you know so much, "JoeSchmoe" maybe you could enlighten all of us on who you are? You have no idea the extent of the damage in my home or the extent of what went through. Also, if you're a FB "friend" and you find what I write offense, unfriend me. Now here is the biggest challenge of your life: Tell us all who you REALLY are, coward. We all know that will never happen as you will sit at your keyboard spewing lines of hate generated only by your unintelligence and ridiculous comments about things be "simple." Quite frankly, the only "simple" thing I see here is YOU. I will even take this a step farther by inviting you to call me - again something you will never do with your name or real number attached, but I will take that chance because today, unlike others these past few months, I am feeling rather optimistic. Call me, "Joeschmoe" and we can talk about everything you THINK you know, but do not. I guess the old saying is very true for you, my friend: IGNORANCE IS BLISS. Call me, you coward. I'd love to know who you really are: 347.687.2134. "Until everyone comes home" - including you, you ungrateful moron.

Friday, February 15, 2013 | Report this

I cannot decide exactly what makes me the most sick to my stomach about the first two comments. I particularly love the judgement placed on us "rich folk" who have flood insurance. Rich folk that live in a flood zone do not buy flood insurance. SMART people that live in a flood zone purchase flood insurance. And, if you have a mortgage, which most of us supposedly rich folk do, you are REQUIRED to carry flood insurance. For someone who feels it is so easy to be informed about the many, many idiosincracies of the flood insurance system, you seem overly misinformed to me SANDEEP. My middle class neighborhood on the Jersey Shore was wiped out in this storm. I, like you, had five feet of water in my one story home. Unlike those who decided not to purchase flood insurance, however, I did not receive ONE DIME from FEMA. I would assume if you had that much water in your home, you live in a flood zone. You should be thankful to all of us rich folk, you know, the ones working full-time while they raise their children and carry on with our glamorous lifestyles. We are the ones paying for your decision to not pay by the rules. We are not asking for a 30K handout from the government. We are asking for the insurance coverage that we have paid into. we are asking for the fair market value to put our homes back to livable conditions. It is the same concept that you follow when you have car insurance, unless you fail to insurance your vehicles too. You pay in. Something happens. your car needs to be repaired. Your insurance covers it. sounds simple to me...

Friday, February 15, 2013 | Report this

I don't have a beach house, I did not trade up to a bigger house, I don't have a mortgage and I am not required to have flood insurance. Most folk on my block dont have a mortgage. We have mainly blue collar older folk who bought from 1950s to 1990s. Honestly, most folk never got a drop of water in their life.

I have flood insurance now and I question the whole purpose of it. Flood insurance is not like regular insurance. It is a govt subsidized program. It is welfare for people in flood zones. Now I have flood insurance. I pay peanuts and next flood I will get paid a lot of money. My flood policy is $400 bucks a year. Honestly, if I was Uncle Same I would rather pay me $32k then 250K and skip the $400 bucks.

Quite honestly, when Cuomo said noreaster was coming and we could throw out stuff with out waiting for adjuster to come, my neighbor threw out his whole perfectly good kitchen, all the sheetrock and even gutted the everything and threw out every stick of old furniture. Why, he wanted a new house and he had flood insurance. Guess what he only owns this piece of junk six months, paid $200 in premiums and now he is getting a new everything. I got same water as him.

I saw a ton of fraud with folks with flood insurance going on. I also find it amazing that the 50% of folks with no flood insurance 100% of them are back in their house.

Salvation Army, Red Cross there was vouchers for used furniture, Charities were helping with rip outs, STEP program was available and if you used off the books folks and rolled up your sleeves you could get house done on a 31,900 budget. Remember, the southshore most towns were only put in flood zone in 2009, including mine. All my neighbors paid in only $1,200 in premiums and talking to them they got an average of 150K. The folks without flood insurance paid in zero and got $31,900. Flood Insurance is a misnomer, it is not a for profit insurance company. The federal govt has to either take a loss of 149K on average in my town for folks with flood insurance vs. a loss of 32K for folks with flood insurance.

Bottom line someone who got with flood insurance who got $31,900 payout in excess of premiums paid got exact same handout as someone without flood insurance who got $31,900. I think they should get rid of flood insurance all together, or at least for non-primary residences.

Friday, February 15, 2013 | Report this

BTW I also question car insurance in a flood zone. My car insurance company did not charge me a nickle extra cause I live in what you call a "flood zone" I lost three cars in sandy, got a check for 50K. Bought two new cars and parked them right in same spot. Crazy.

BTW I am going shopping for a little beach house this weekend. Now that I have flood insurance and realize how cheap it is I feel why not milk the system.

Friday, February 15, 2013 | Report this

stacyb btw how much have you paid in flood premiums on your house vs the amount you are claiming?

If you paid 10K in premiums for instance and you get a 100K payout you are getting 90K handout from govt that is coming out of all our taxes.

It may make you sleep better at night, but honestly it is a bail out. NFIP/FEMA flood insurance is one big fat bailout.

And I know I am lucky, I did not get totally wiped out in Sandy. I also saved the taxpayers like you around 100K by not having flood insurance as you would had paid a heck of a lot more than 32k.

Friday, February 15, 2013 | Report this

BTW FEMA insurance rates only pay 40% of what they should pay to cover the costs. That is a fact you can check.

So 60% of insurance prem is paid by taxpayers and 60% of your payout on your claim is a handout.

There is a reason no private insurance company offers flood insurance, it would have to be so expensive to cover the risks that no one would buy it anyhow.

Friday, February 15, 2013 | Report this

We paid $1900. in flood last year and our renewal for this year is $2400. FOR A HOUSE WE CANNOT LIVE IN. Our house is our primary residence. My parents house - which they have had since 1930 - also got water in it - which it never got before. I am not milking the system and have seen a lot of people abusing or trying to milk the system - they'll get caught or they won't get paid for something when they really need it. I'm still waiting for "JoeSchmoe" to call me but I guess that's not gonna happen.

Friday, February 15, 2013 | Report this

And by the way, SanDEEP, we bought the house ten years ago, GUTTED IT OURSELVES and replaced everything - out of pocket, brand new. So no....$250k is about right. But you seem to know more than me so I will leave this forum for the nameless, faceless keyboard cowboys to fight it out. I have more important things to do -- like bringing my family and friends HOME.

Friday, February 15, 2013 | Report this

OK people apparently none of you live in the West End of Long Beach... Their house is UNLIVABLE... I'm not sure how I can better expalin that. I don't care what you think her house looks like outside GO INSIDE! The fact that EVERYONE I know LB born and raised has banned together and you pigs have the never to talk down to someone who only expects to get what they paid for is DISGUSTING! CLEARLY you were NOT born in LB and raised there and believe me when I tell you there is a BOIG differeance from living there and actually being from there. How about we SUPPORT each other until everyone is home regardless of how good or bad someone has it. This is NOT about YOU it is about the community!!! And one last thing how can you speak about her? you don't know her? you have not lived her life? you have NO idea. So much for human compassion... I'm sure you will NOT agree with anything that I say but thats fine! I AM Long Beach born and raised so bring it on! I will alawys be a West End girl and I will NOT stop until EVERYONE IS HOME!!!!

Friday, February 15, 2013 | Report this

Wow! The ignorance, and excuses for mooching off of everyone else  on here is breathtaking!

I find it bizarre that people receiving free money to fix their homes are berating people who paid huge annual premiums for insurance.  I don't know know who this $400 guy is, but his home obviously  wasn't deemed a high risk, and hadn't flooded since 1974.   Most people I know pay in the range of $1200-$2500 annually for flood insurance in addition to a $1600-$2500 homeowners policy.  If you don't have insurance and you live on the outer barrier, you are just plain irresponsible, or working the system.

You think they should get rid of federal flood insurance? Okay, then turn Point Lookout, Long Beach, Lido Beach, Atlantic Beach, Charleston, New Orleans, Miami,  and every city and town like them into marsh land, or park land, or only land inhabitable by the super rich who can self insure.  Without insurance, normal people can't live there and businesses can't function.  But while your at it, get rid of the welfare for the people who don't bother to insure at all. screw your $31,000.  What makes you think your entitled to it?  Let everyone go it alone, because that's what you're saying. 

How you can even attempt to justify taking a free ride over someone that actually did the responsible thing and paid into insurance is pathetic.

FEMA has taken over Long beach.  Many homes, though they look habitable, have been condemned. They must be raised to a higher elevation to get building permits and c.o.'s., and flood insurance going forward.  While FEMA is playing games on payouts (remember it's not really the insurance companies, they just administer FEMA's policies and procedures), they are at the same time making the rules that they don't want to live by.  It's a daisy chain of a cluster fu@k.

Finally, just so you know, once you've successfully run the gamut to get your insurance settlement, if you have a mortgage, (as so many young families-and even older ones do) you have to sign your check over to the bank.  The bank then demands that you use licensed, insured contractors to do all of the work on your house before they release any money to you. I finally just got an insurance check and my bank will  release a check for twenty percent of the settlement to begin work. 4 months later.  After i submit w-9's and lein waivers for every job being done at my home. Help me find a contractor who will schedule his crew around that, and wait for me to struggle to satisfy the bank every step of the way for their future compensation.

Saturday, February 16, 2013 | Report this

JoeSchmoe and sandeep. It is not that simple although it should be. Flood insurance is meant to re-build your home you are correct about that however you are ignorant about the sitaution and current status of the flood insurances response to our damaged homes.

My adjuster at TRAVELERS flood insurance not only left out many items that needed to be replaced they also forgot to include an entire room. TRAVELERS flood only allocated money to replace some wiring in the house. If you do your research and look up the Underwriters Laboritories (who set the standard for safety) you will learn that all wiring has to be removed if touched by flood contaminated waters. These are just a few examples of the negligance that TRAVELERS has presented us with.

Sandeep and joeschmo you are perhaps ufamilar with the substantial damage report that the city of lng beach has given to many homes. This letter declares if your home is more that 50 percent damaged or not. If it is, by law you have to raise it out of the flood plain or knock it down. Most homes in the west end are at 70 or so. The Insurance company wont pay you enough money to do this. Perhaps you two have a magic wand that can raise our homes so we can save the 40 to 50 grand that this costs to do so.

Know the facts before you start pointing fingers at people and making judgements about peoples homes, sandeep my windows are intact as well but they are filled with sewarage water in between the panes. My roof is intact but it has structural damage that you can't see from a photo. Maybe you are some sort of engineer that can assess damage from photos but I doubt that.

Instead of "completely killing off flood insurance" maybe we should kill off ignorance during a sensitive time and stick together as a community.

Saturday, February 16, 2013 | Report this

SO what should misinformed people like Sam Kingley do! Houses on her block were flooded with Irene, and now with sandy! Should she rebuild her house every year!

ALSO you many be misinformed!

I have a friend that lives on her block and was told by the insurance company that they will give them $30 to make their house whole. A three bedroom house, with a new kitchen and 2 baths due to Irene, and they think that $30 is going to do the trick! My boiler and hot water heater cost me $8,000, and gut and cleaned my own basement, and to Finish my basement again is going to cost me $12,000!

Before you judge someone you should know all the facts, every ones situation is different. I know lots of people that are still waiting on reports from the adjuster that showed up at their homes 3 days after the storm!!! (going on five months) How can you even start to renovate when you have no clue what your working with!!! VERY SAD!!!!

And JoeSchmoe! Maybe you should step away from your computer get out on the street and take a good look around! People are not living out of their homes because they are someplace on vacation living off the gov't tit! I think you should call one of the local charities assisting families in LB and volunteer AND maybe you will see how lucky you were to be able to put your home back together.

Saturday, February 16, 2013 | Report this

This is a story about a family that lost everything they owned ! Every story is different. Yes, the house looks fine, but who the hell knows what going on inside this house ? Foundation damage, cracks in the slab, lifted off of the foundation ? This was their PRIMARY RESIDENCE ! This was not their vacation home ! These people are not rich, they a middle class working family that paid for insurance and are not getting what they paid for. Lets put this in context. If you have auto insurance and your car is a complete loss, it gets totaled. Same for these people. These people are not MILKING the system, they are just asking to be made " Whole". I am 100% sure, if they ever thought there would be any kind of a short fall with their insurance, they would have made up for it with additional insurance. Perhaps instead of being critical of these folks, you would be supportive of YOUR neighbors and not throw them to the wolves with these negative comments. THESE are the people that are going to help you out in a pinch. These are not " Tourists or seasonal renters " These people pay their Long Beach taxes and are going to help bring the property values back.

Saturday, February 16, 2013 | Report this

Folks without flood insurance are usually the elders with no mortgage. Folks with an FHA mortgage are required to have a mortgage as Uncle Sam and banks want to protect their investment

Zero effort was done by govt to get the homeowners with no mortgage to get flood insurance. In fact fema said if all those folks had flood insurance it would have bankrupt fema as it helped limit liability

I always notice the sentence homeowners are required to have flood insurance in a flood zone

Not true only folks with FHA mortgages are required

Monday, February 18, 2013 | Report this

BTW I used to live in Long Beach years ago. Around 1992-1995. It was so junky back then I actually had a share in a Hamptons house as Long Beach really sucked. Back then those "trendy" west end homes were pretty much empty in the winter or used to rent out to cheap students or members of Pagan Motorcycle gang.

The long beach boardwalk had a ton on Coops/condos conversions etc in the period of 1985-1990 during condo/coop boom that went bust big way back then in 1992. I recall my friend getting a apt on the boardwalk with a pool all renovated with the first four months rent free!!!!

The bungalows my friend dad owned like 7 of them he bought for 6k each, had electric heat only and were shacks. My friends dad left them empty in the winter. Pretty much they go trashed in summer completely, he kept deposit, over winter when bored he stop by with a few sixpacks and a five gallon can of paint and a can of spackle and fix it up for next year.

People built those shacks on the water into year round residences in flood zones. Go back 20 years ago, the same house hit with four feet would most likely cost my friends dad maybe $2,000 to rebuild. Empty bungalow, electric heat, I could see him resheet rocking bottom few feet, taping it up and painting in two weekends, he did not even carry flood insurance on anything. I bet today he sold those six flop houses for almost $500,000 each during Spring of 2003 Spring of 2008 to folks who dumped their lifesavings into these junky little "trendy west end" bungalows.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 | Report this
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