In a previous blog post, we shared the 60 Minutes documentary “The Storm After the Storm”, an expose’ on the egregious claims conduct of flood insurance companies in the wake Superstorm Sandy; specifically, their alleged widespread and systematic alteration of engineer’s reports by which they used to deny valid flood claims.
According to the New York Times article this morning, the engineering firm at the center of this documentary GEB Hi-Rise Engineering, of Uniondale, N.Y., and Matthew Pappalardo, a former executive, have been indicted in connection with their engineering practices and reporting during Superstorm Sandy. The indictment alleges that GEB Hi-Rise Engineering altered engineering reports that were used to defraud policyholders of benefits for damages caused to their homes caused by the superstorm.
While in our opinion, the perpetrators of these types of actions deserve significant jail time; according to Property Insurance Coverage Law Blog’s post on the indictment, these violations will likely result of probation. This is disturbing and frustrating as these business practices and fraudulent engineering reports, caused significant harm to policyholders during a desperate time of need.
As we discussed in our previous post titled “Outcome Oriented Experts…a powerful tool for underpaying and denying claims”, these are not isolated behaviors by engineering firms beholden to insurance companies, in our experience. We continue to see more and more engineering firms indifferent to the truth, and willing to misrepresent the nature of damages, and their cause, in their attempts to maintain their standing with insurance companies.
While it is not within my professional capabilities to evaluate whether the indictment of GEB Hi-Rise Engineering will in fact result in probation, but I believe until engineers who engage in these types of behaviors start spending some time behind bars, the phenomenon will continue to proliferate. We hope that the NY Legal System will render the proper punishment for the harm caused to the victims of Superstorm Sandy.