New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that New York homeowners will not have to pay potentially large hurricane deductibles on insurance claims stemming from damage caused by Sandy.
New York joins other northeastern states — New Jersey, Maryland and Connecticut — that have already announced that hurricane deductibles would not be applicable in their states with regard to Sandy-related claims.
The New York State Department of Financial Services said it has informed the insurance industry that hurricane deductibles should not be triggered for this storm. This will prevent coastal homeowners from having to pay deductibles in their insurance policies.
“Homeowners should not have to pay hurricane deductibles for damage caused by the storm and insurers should understand the Department of Financial Services will be monitoring how claims are handled,” Gov. Cuomo said.
Many homeowners’ insurance policies for homes located in downstate areas contain hurricane deductibles based on a percentage of a property’s insured value. These deductibles typically range from one percent of a home’s insured value to five percent. So for example, with a five percent deductible on a home insured for $300,000, the homeowner would have to pay for the first $15,000 of damage.
New York Financial Services Department Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky said his department has informed the insurance industry that hurricane deductibles are not triggered because Sandy did not have sustained hurricane-force winds when it made land in New York.
“We will be working with insurers to help them respond as quickly as possible to homeowners who need to file claims. And we will be sending our mobile command center to hard hit areas to help consumers with insurance questions and problems,” said Lawsky.
The regulators urge homeowners who experienced property losses to file insurance claims with their insurers promptly and as soon as possible after losses occur. Regulators say it is important to provide policy numbers and all information relevant to the loss. To best document losses, homeowners should to take photos or videos showing the extent of the losses before cleaning up damage.
Homeowners should make only necessary repairs to prevent further damage to property, like covering broken windows. Permanent repairs should not be made until after insurers have inspected losses. Damaged personal property should be kept until after an insurance settlement has been reached.
In addition, regulators advise, homeowners should cooperate fully with their insurer and keep a diary of all conversations with the insurance agent, including the agent’s name, as well as the times and dates of all calls or visits.
Homeowners are also reminded that flood damage is only covered by flood insurance, which is a federal program administered by FEMA. Homeowners who have flood insurance and have flood damage should make claims through that insurance.
The New York Department of Financial Services said it will be sending its mobile command center to hard hit areas to help consumers with insurance questions and problems.
The department has activated a disaster hotline to answer consumer questions and help with problems. The Disaster Hotline number is 800-339-1759. It is staffed Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday to Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The department says New York homeowners who are unable to resolve disputes with insurers can file complaints at www.dfs.ny.gov/consumer/fileacomplaint.htm.