New York Looks to Reform Coastal Homeowners Insurance Market

September 23, 2010

New York insurance regulators are proposing a new set of consumer protection measures as part of a package of rules aimed at improving the availability and pricing of homeowners insurance in high-risk areas along the state’s coast.

Among the proposals: prohibit insurers from applying a special deductible for wind damage unless a hurricane makes landfall, reduce the number of nonrenewals insurers are permitted and create a catastrophe pool to offset premium increases.

“Let’s fix the roof before it starts raining,” Insurance Superintendent James Wrynn said. “Coastal New York has been lucky for a while to escape a direct hit from a hurricane, but luck is no substitute for planning. Homeowners have already been pummeled by rising rates, nonrenewals and threats of nonrenewal of their homeowners insurance policies. Homeowners shouldn’t have to worry about whether they will be able to get coverage when their policies expire. This uncertainty must be addressed. We have extensively reviewed our rules and regulations and we are planning for the storm we know is coming.”

Wrynn has called a meeting of the Temporary Panel on Homeowners Insurance Coverage, a group that examines insurance and other issues facing coastal homeowners and some possible solutions. The group is scheduled to meet on Oct. 13 in Manhattan.

The panel will also look at state and local building codes, insurer preparedness for recovery and rebuilding after a catastrophe and public education about storm risks and mitigation techniques, Wrynn said.

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