New York DFS Superintendent Directs Insurers to Submit Disaster Plans

March 29, 2017

All insurance companies licensed to conduct business in New York State must submit updated disaster response and recovery plans and responses to online questionnaires to the Department of Financial Services (DFS) by June 16, 2017, Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo announced.

These plans are aimed at ensuring companies are proactively prepared to address consumer needs before a disaster strikes. Property/casualty companies are also being directed to file responses to the Pre-Disaster Data Survey by April 28, 2017.

When a disaster occurs in New York, DFS provides the Governor and the New York State Office of Emergency Management with critical information regarding the amount and extent of losses, damages, personal injuries and deaths resulting from the disaster, according to a DFS press release. Based on this information, the Governor determines whether and when to request a federal disaster declaration and how to prioritize the deployment of state assets.

“It is important for all insurers, whatever the scale of their business, to understand that their ability to recover from a disaster ultimately impacts the needs of New York consumers,” said Financial Services Superintendent Vullo in the release. “Disaster response and business continuity plans should reflect the nature, scale and complexity of each insurer’s business and these plans need to be updated at least annually.”

Following a disaster, the DFS Superintendent will activate the Department’s Insurance Emergency Operations Center (IEOC) in accordance with the nature and extent of the disaster, the release stated. The IEOC is staffed by insurance industry disaster liaisons and Department representatives to coordinate disaster responses. Where possible, the Superintendent will consult with the insurance industry before activating the IEOC, the release added.

DFS issued two circular letters advising insurers of their disaster related obligations under New York’s Insurance Law. The first circular letter was directed to property/casualty insurers, including lines of business such as mortgage guaranty insurance, title insurance and captive insurance. The second circular letter was directed to life insurers, as well as entities such as health insurers, fraternal benefit societies and employee welfare funds.

In addition to filing a disaster response and recovery plan, an insurer must have a business continuity plan, the release added. The circular letters outline what an insurer’s business continuity plan should include at a minimum, such as:

  • Defining the roles and responsibilities of employees designated to perform disaster-related functions;
  • Identifying lines of management authority;
  • Distributing and maintaining copies business continuity and disaster response plans. Copies of plans should be stored at secure off-site locations which allow access if a company’s computer servers are disabled.
  • Reporting results of a business impact analysis;
  • Identifying recovery time objectives for business processes and information technology;
  • Creating detailed procedures, resource requirements, and logistics for relocation to alternate worksites; and
  • Setting forth detailed procedures, resource requirements, and a data restoration plan for the recovery of information technology, such as networks and required connectivity, servers, computers, wireless devices, applications and data.

Electronic templates for responses to the pre-disaster survey and disaster response plan and business continuity plan questionnaires, and instructions for their completion and submission, are available on the DFS website.

Source: New York State Department of Financial Services

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