New York governor Andrew Cuomo has introduced new measures for faster processing of superstorm Sandy-related claims by insurers, in an effort to have consumers receive payments faster, following major destruction after the storm.
The state’s Department of Financial Services (DFS) announced Nov. 29 that under the governor's direction, it had issued a new regulation that it says will cut in half the amount of time insurers have to send adjusters to homes and businesses to inspect claims.
The new regulation requires insurance companies to start investigating claims in six business days after the claim is made, rather than 15 business days under current rules. The regulation applies to claims from Sandy, which made landfall in New Jersey in late October and devastated much of the eastern U.S. coast.
The governor also signed an executive order that will allow for expedited, temporary licenses to be issued to qualified out-of-state public insurance adjusters, increasing the number of adjusters available to New York consumers to help get their claim settlements faster, according to the DFS.
Read the executive order here: Temporary Suspension and Modification of Provisions of the Insurance Law
The department will also now be publishing “report cards” of insurance companies’ performances in responding after Sandy and paying out claims. The report cards will be published on a new website,www.NYInsure.ny.gov, which the DFS says will be updated regularly.
Among other criteria, insurance companies will be graded on:
- Number of claims
- Average time for an adjuster to inspect
- Number of claims closed with and without payment so far
- Total number of consumer complaints
- Number of complaints as a percentage of number of claims
"In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, it is vital that New Yorkers receive their claim settlements as soon as possible, so that they can rebuild their homes, businesses and lives," Governor Cuomo noted in a statement.
"There simply is no substitute for speed when it comes to insurance payouts after a storm. We must do everything possible to make sure we hold insurance companies accountable to their customers.”
Cuomo also announced that, at his direction, DFS Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky would continue the moratorium barring insurance companies from cancelling or terminating homeowners’ and small business owners’ insurance policies in storm stricken areas for any reason, including non-payment of premiums, for an additional 21 days through Dec. 15.
"The performance of insurance companies after a storm like Sandy is incredibly important,” Lawksy noted in a statement. “Homeowners and businesses have the right to know how their insurers are performing and how quickly the companies are handling claims."