Cymbrowitz Offers Post-Hurricane Insurance Tips

The following is from the offices of Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, by way of the Manhattan Beach Community Group website.

Dear Neighbor,

It is my hope you and your family made it through Hurricane Irene safely and with no or minimal damage to your property. I realize that the days following a big storm can be unsettling and stressful. However, it is important for those who have suffered property damage to file an insurance claim as quickly as possible to help recover any loss you may have suffered and assure that your financial future is neither diminished or compromised.

As a member of the Assembly’s Insurance Committee, I have comprised some important suggestions that can assist you in working with your insurance company to expedite your claim.

  • The first step to getting your home restored is to contact your insurance company and/or agent with your policy number and other relevant information. Be aware that your policy might require that you make this notification within a certain time frame.
  • Take photographs or video of the damage before clean-up or repairs. After you’ve documented the damage, make repairs necessary to prevent further damage to your property, such as covering broken windows, leaking roofs and damaged walls. DO NOT have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost of repairs. Be prepared to provide the claims adjuster with records of any improvements you made prior to the damage. Save all receipts, including those from the temporary repairs.
  • If your home is damaged to the extent that you cannot live in it, ask your insurance company or insurance agent if you have coverage for additional living expenses.
  • Ask what documents, forms and data you will need to file the claim. Keep a diary of all conversations you have with the insurance company and your insurance agent, including names, times, phone numbers and dates of the calls or visits and contact details.
  • Be certain to give your insurance company all the information they need. Incorrect or incomplete information may cause a delay in processing your claim.
  • If the first offer made by the insurance company does not meet your expectations, be prepared to negotiate. If there is a disagreement about the claim, ask the company for the specific language in the policy in question and determine why you and the company interpret your policy differently. If you believe you are being treated unfairly, contact the Insurance Department at www.ins.state.ny.us. You can file a complaint about an insurance company at   http://www.ins.state.ny.us/complhow.htm.
  • Consumers should contact their insurance company, agent or broker to get answers to specific questions about their policies. Consumers who need further help should feel free to contact the New York State Insurance Department’s Consumer Services Bureau at 800-342-3736 which operates from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Disaster related calls only should go to the Department’s disaster hotline at 800-339-1759, which will be open starting Monday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for as long as needed

Governor Andrew Cuomo and Insurance Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky have also mobilized the State Insurance Department to help New Yorkers with their claims. The Department has:

  • Opened the Department’s disaster hotline at 800-339-1759, which will be open starting Monday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for as long as needed.
  • Put all companies that sell homeowners’ and auto insurance on alert to be prepared to handle claims.
  • Sent staff to join other state and local agencies at the state and at local emergency operations centers.
  • Initiated the Insurance Emergency Operations Center.
  • Is sending the Department’s mobile unit to hard hit locations to provide on the spot assistance for consumers.
  • In addition, health insurance companies have been instructed to accommodate consumers who had to evacuate their homes and as a result have to seek care from out-of-network doctors or other health providers.

The Insurance Department’s online “Homeowner’s Resource Center” offers detailed information and a number of useful tools consumers may find helpful. It can be found at the following location on the Insurance Department’s website, http://www.ins.state.ny.us/hmonindx.htm.

If you have any questions or require additional information my office can help, please contact us at 718-743-4078 or email us at cymbros@assembly.state.ny.us.

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