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NY1 For You: Some Businesses Impacted By Sandy Frustrated With Insurance Companies

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TWC News: NY1 For You: Some Businesses Frustrated By Insurance Company Reactions To Their Claims
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Countless businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy continue to struggle to receive payouts from their insurance policies, and many have failed, leaving them crying foul against insurance providers that they say are robbing them. NY1's Susan Jhun filed the following NY1 For You report.

Architect David Piaker says he was unable to operate out of his business in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

"No access. No heat. No elevator service. No electric service. No telephone," he says. "No way to operate in the building."

Still, Piaker was denied coverage on a Hurricane Sandy business interruption insurance claim worth thousands. He says that his firm's insurance provider, CNA Financial Corporation, denied the claim, stating that the power outage was caused by flooding, and therefore was not covered by the firm's policy.

It was an unfair determination, says Piaker, who is certainly not alone. More and more business owners are speaking out about what they say are unjust denials to Hurricane Sandy insurance claims.

Radio station WBAI filed a business interruption claim with its insurance company, Chubb, but the station says Chubb declared that the claim was water related, and since the company didn't have flood insurance, it would only be covered for three days of lost business.

"It was not water related," says Andrea Katz, interim development director at WBAI. "It was a restricted building that we were not allowed entry to and therefore could not do business as usual."

"There seems to be this gray area that the insurance companies are manipulating," says Janette Bower, the owner of Space Salon.

In Bower's case, the gray area falls over what's considered a mandatory closing by a civil authority. The Space Salon's building, which had no power, was deemed unsafe and closed by the building manager based on city fire code.

"New York City code is a law," Bower says.

But not according to Utica National Insurance Group, which denied a business interruption claim filed by Bower for thousands in lost business.

"It seems like they have lawyers that write these things out, and everything's so opaque that they can just find a way to get out of it," says Norman James, co-owner of Space Salon.

NY1 contacted CNA, Utica and Chubb, but all refused to comment, citing privacy issues.

The New York State Department of Financial services is now investigating these and other business claims from Hurricane Sandy.

Meanwhile, many businesses are seeking legal counsel, getting ready for a fair fight.

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