Connecticut Asks Insurers to Waive Storm Deductibles for Irene Damages

September 6, 2011

Connecticut is negotiating with several insurance companies to waive hurricane policy deductibles for coastal homeowners whose properties were damaged or destroyed by Tropical Storm Irene, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said.

Malloy said 244 homes had been deemed to be destroyed or damaged beyond repair by last Irene’s drenching.

State officials also had calculated at least $16 million in damage to public property, though Malloy said he expected the figure to grow.

There was no firm estimate by last Friday afternoon on the total damage to privately owned property, but it’s expected to be substantial enough to trigger federal disaster aid in at least seven of the state’s eight counties, he said.

On Friday night, President Barack Obama signed a disaster declaration making federal funding available for five Connecticut counties. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said damage assessments are continuing, and more counties could receive assistance.

Malloy said at least five companies that write insurance policies in Connecticut had already agreed by Friday to waive deductibles for the hurricane coverage portions of coastal homeowners’ policies.

Those deductibles are often calculated as percentages of homes’ market values, potentially requiring residents to pay thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs before the hurricane coverage kicks in.

Malloy did not immediately name the insurers, but he said that several are major players in the market and that state officials were trying to persuade others to follow suit.

The state Insurance Department’s preliminary review of market values, claim histories and other information suggested the combined out-of-pocket costs to the homeowners with hurricane coverage on their policies could be up to $100 million without the deductible waivers, he said.

Two deaths in Connecticut have been attributed to Irene, which had been a hurricane and was downgraded to a tropical storm before it hit southern New England. The storm churned north and left in its wake heavy flooding and downed trees, including many that damaged power lines and complicated crews’ efforts to restore power.

Almost 163,000 customers of Connecticut electricity providers remained without power Friday afternoon, down from a peak of 830,000 after the storm.

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