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Oceanside Residents Battling Insurance Companies Over Flood Coverage

Residents Say Areas Are Living Spaces; Insurers Claim They're Basements
First floor of Oceanside home. Insurance won't pay for the content, claiming the lower level is a basement. (Sophia Hall/WCBS 880)

First floor of Oceanside home. Insurance won’t pay for the content, claiming the lower level is a basement. (Sophia Hall/WCBS 880)

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Superstorm Sandy

OCEANSIDE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Some superstorm Sandy victims in Nassau County have sued their insurance companies over the definition of a basement.

Some of the lanai-style homes on Elaine Drive in Oceanside have first floors that are only two or three feet below street level.

The residents never considered the first floor of their homes to be basements. But after Sandy, they found out that the insurance companies do.

The insurance plans do not consider basements to be living spaces, so the residents have not gotten a penny of insurance money for the flood damage they sustained.

Seth Oberstein said Nassau County considers those lower levels as living spaces and said he has been paying property taxes on the rooms for decades.

“If you go down below even two inches, they consider it a basement. And therefore content, not necessarily your boilers and such, but content itself will not be covered,” Oberstein told WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall.

“It’s a living space. We have a bedroom down there, we have a den. And we’ve been taxed for 25 years that we’ve been here. So that’s why the county’s getting in on it now because if it’s going to be a basement, then I want them to give me back all my money that I’ve been paying taxes on,” resident Petrina Marchica told Hall.

Several residents on the block have hired a lawyer to fight the insurance companies.

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