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New York homeowners will not have to pay potentially debilitating hurricane deductibles on insurance claims stemming from damage caused by Sandy, Gov. Cuomo said Thursday.
The New York State Department of Financial Services has informed the insurance industry that hurricane deductibles should not be triggered for the Superstorm, which will prevent coastal homeowners from having to pay deductibles in their insurance policies, Cuomo said.
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. So 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.
Superintendent of Financial Services Benjamin Lawsky said the state told the insurance industry that deductibles weren't triggered because Sandy did not sustain hurricane-force winds when it hit New York.
"We will be working with insurers to help them respond as quickly as possible to homeowners who need to file claims. And we will be sending our mobile command center to hard hit areas to help consumers with insurance questions and problems,” Lasky said.
DFS urges homeowners who experienced property losses to file insurance claims with their insurers as soon as possible after losses occur. It is important to provide policy numbers and all information relevant to the loss. To best document losses, homeowners should take photos or videos showing the extent of the losses before cleaning up damage.
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.
Homeowners are also reminded that flood damage is only covered by flood insurance, which is a federal program administered by FEMA. Homeowners who have flood insurance and have flood damage should make claims through that insurance.
DFS will be sending its mobile command center to hard hit areas to help consumers with insurance questions and problems.
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 AM – 8 PM and Saturday - Sunday from 9 AM – 4 PM.
Homeowners unable to resolve disputes with insurers can file complaints at http://www.dfs.ny.gov/consumer/fileacomplaint.htm.