Don't Wait for Insurance Inspector, New York Tells Homeowners with Claims

With another storm on the way, New York State is changing the procedures on home insurance claims following Sandy.

Normally, insurers send assessors to survey damage at a location before processing claims. But with a nor’easter expected to arrive on Wednesday, New York’s Superintendent of Financial Services, Benjamin Lawsky, said clearing debris is a more urgent task. He has ordered insurers to accept visual and written documentation, so homeowners can prepare for the storm.

"All they have to do is inventory and photograph, they don't have to keep this stuff lying around in the streets,” Lawsky said.

It is the latest change made by the Department of Financial Services in response to Sandy. Lawsky also ordered insurers not to drop customers for any reason, including failure to pay premiums, for a period of 30 days in the affected areas.

Last week, the Cuomo administration announced homeowners would not have to pay hurricane deductibles on their policies, because Sandy’s winds were not hurricane-strength when the storm reached New York. That move meant homeowners will not have to pay additional costs equal to 1- to 5-percent on the insured value of their homes.

Lawsky said he’s not concerned his latest order might cause insurers to reconsider doing business in New York.

“This is what they will accept and this is how it’s gonna be,” said Lawsky. “The vast majority seem to be very willing to comply with that.”