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Cuomo Changes Insurance Rules to Help Sandy Victims

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Gov. Andrew Cuomo along with Congresssman Gregory W. Meeks unload National Guard trucks of supplies for Hurricane Sandy Relief. Gov. Andrew Cuomo along with Congresssman Gregory W. Meeks unload National Guard trucks of supplies for Hurricane Sandy Relief. (Courtesy of the Governor's Office)

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.”

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Comments [1]

John Nevin from Southwest Missouri

I understand the Governor's need to keep the pressure on the insurance companies, and I certainly wouldn't want to imply that every insurance company is doing the best that it could, but in a catastrophe this large, the desire to accomplish expeditious claims processing runs into the reality of hard numbers.

I am a retired catastrophe claims adjuster, so I see some of these hard numbers from the "other side."

The insurance companies who operate in the East Coast states will now have brought in approximately 1000 additional adjusters from all over the country, each of whom will be working 60-80 per week. More adjusters would be brought in if they were available, but my estimate of 1000 is about the limit of the pool. In addition, these companies will have added hundreds of temporary office support personnel to speed up the administrative end of claims processing. The insurance companies for whom I have worked will have their own personnel on a 7:00 to 7:00 work schedule 6 or seven days a week.

The fastest (and sloppiest) adjuster in the world could not see more than 50 claims locations in a week, unless the intent was to make a simple meeting and preliminary assessment of each claim, which would build up the numbers but actually slow final processing. If every adjuster were the fastest in the world, 350,000 claims divided by 1000 adjusters @ 50/week = 7 weeks.

My concern is that pressure to visit claims locations might force the insurers to encourage adjusters to make those "drive-by" visits to respond to the pressure rather than continuing in the fastest, most efficient manner.

Disclaimer: I have no current relationship with any insurance company or adjusting company and do not envision that I will have one in the future. My son is now working as a temporary staff-support person for one of the insurance companies involved, but none of the information I have provided here has come from him.

Dec. 02 2012 11:06 AM

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