Insurance nightmares for Superstorm Sandy victims looking to rebuild

NEW JERSEY (WITI) -- It has been more than five months since Superstorm Sandy ripped apart homes along the Jersey Shore, and for some homeowners, the nightmare is far from over. They're trying to rebuild -- but dealing with insurance hurdles.

Kim and Jay Purcell bought a small bungalow near the Jersey Shore eight years ago, just before they got married.

"It's just very surreal. It's hard to imagine that we used to live here. That we had a life, and now it's gone. The water came from underneath and rushing in underneath and it also hit the top layer out through here which was my husband's office," Kim Purcell said.

Engineers say the place needs to be torn down and rebuilt from the ground up.

"You leave for a night because a storm is coming, and you never think that's the last night you're going to sleep in your bed. That's the last night you're going to come home," Purcell said.

Even though the Purcells had full flood insurance and say they were never late on a payment, they have only been offered $28,000 -- barely enough to demolish the house and clear the lot.

"They're dragging their feet. They're submitting low offers to the point where like you're supposed to walk away even though you had flood insurance? I mean that makes no sense," Purcell said.

Jim and Tracy Kenney have done slightly better with their claims. They fled their home in Brick Township just before it got swamped. They've gotten about half their estimated repair costs in insurance money, but say it has been a constant battle.

"We just wanna put our house back together. We're not looking for anything. We just wanna put it back together so we can move back in. That's all we wanna do," Kenney said.

D'Arcy Rohan Green is an insurance "success" story, sort of. She lost her first floor and basement in the storm. Her house was actually hit by another house from across the street. She waited months, but recently got a substantial check.

"One feels fortunate to have any settlement. It's not all that we were hoping for but it was enough to move forward," Green said.

A national insurance trade group wouldn't discuss individual cases, but says overall, the claims were overwhelming. More than half a million filed for damages. Roughly 90% have been settled for a total of nearly $7 billion.

"It's not that we're trying to in any case make sure that the amount is less than what they want, but we're trying to make that what we pay is actually the amount that is due to them under the terms of the contract... and that sometimes takes a while," Don Griffin with Property Casualty Insurers said.