Cuomo Changes Insurance Rules to Help Sandy Victims

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Governor Andrew Cuomo says he’s taking steps to speed up insurance claims processing after Sandy.

Cuomo says 360,000 Sandy victims have filed insurance claims for damage to their homes, cars and other property.  And he says insurance companies have not been quick enough to respond.

“We’re getting many, many complaints from people,” Cuomo said.  

The governor issued emergency regulations requiring adjustors to visit damaged properties within six business days instead of the normal 15 business day time frame. Insurance companies that don’t meet the six day requirement will be fined $1,000 per violation. The changes will also make it easier for temporary public adjustors, who are consumer advocates, to be hired

Cuomo says under the new rules home owners can begin repairs without waiting for an insurance settlement, if the damage presents a health or safety threat, as long as they document the spending, take pictures and keep the receipts.

Lastly, the governor says his Department of Financial Services is starting a website, which will track the records of all of the insurance companies that have policy holders in the state, to let everyone see how they are performing.

“They may want to take that into consideration when they shop for policies in the future,” Cuomo said.

The governor was furious with the state’s utilities companies for what he said were delays in restoring power. The governor set up a special investigatory panel, which has already subpoenaed Con Edison and the Long Island Power Authority.

Cuomo seems more understanding of the insurance industry, saying he realizes they are overwhelmed with claims. But he says he wants to make sure that they are held accountable.

The governor continues to seek $41 billion from the federal government to cover repairs and rebuilding, as well as mitigation for future storms.  He says he knows the request “will be trickier” in the Republican led House of Representatives, and is counting on support from Long Island GOP Congressman Peter King.

Cuomo says he’s working with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and now Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, in a joint request for aid, something President Obama asked for. The governor says he’ll visit Washington to lobby for the funds personally, if it’s “helpful.”