On October 29, 2012, when Hurricane Sandy made landfall along the northeast coast—a year to the day since the last northeastern superstorm and fourteen months since Hurricane Irene — the wind speeds recorded by the National Weather Service indicated the storm had diminished to “merely” a tropical storm.

While this technical distinction between hurricane and tropical storm made little difference for the people unfortunate enough to be in the path of Sandy’s storm surge, it appears to have created significant financial implications for homeowners, businesses, and the property insurers who protect them....

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