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 damage.
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.