Story written by Greg Sleter
Homeowners across areas of New York impacted by Hurricane Sandy will
not have to pay deductibles on insurance claims stemming from damage
caused by this week’s storm.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday said in a press release that the
state’s Department of Financial Services (DFS) has informed the
insurance industry that hurricane deductibles should not be triggered by
the storm. This will prevent coastal homeowners from having to pay
deductibles in their insurance policies, Cuomo said.
“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,” he said.
According to the Governor, 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. 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.
“We will be working with insurers to help them respond as quickly as
possible to homeowners who need to file claims,” said Benjamin M.
Lawsky, superintendent of Financial Services. “We will be sending our
mobile command center to hard hit areas to help consumers with insurance
questions and problems.”
DFS officials suggest that homeowners who experienced property losses
to file insurance claims with their insurers promptly after losses
occur and include policy numbers and all information relevant to the
loss. To best document losses, officials said homeowners should take
photos or videos showing the extent of the losses before cleaning up
Officials also said 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, 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.
DFS officials noted that flood damage is only covered by flood
insurance, which is a federal program administered by the Federal
Emergency Management Agency. Homeowners who have flood insurance and
have flood damage should make claims through that insurance.
DFS 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 – Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Homeowners unable to resolve disputes with insurers can file complaints at http://www.dfs.ny.gov/consumer/fileacomplaint.htm
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