After meeting with top insurance company executives this week, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a series of measures to expedite the payment of claims for New Yorkers affected by Hurricane Sandy and launched a new online report card system, www.NYInsure.ny.gov, to hold insurance companies accountable.
At the Governors direction, the Department of Financial Services (DFS) issued a new regulation that will cut by more than half the amount of time insurers have to send adjusters to homes and businesses to inspect claims, thereby helping consumers receive their payments sooner. In addition, Governor Cuomo 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. Finally, at the Governors direction, the DFS will publish report cards assessing insurance companies performance in responding to the disaster and paying claims. The report cards will be published on a new website, www.NYInsure.ny.gov, which the Governor launched today. The website will be updated regularly.
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, said Governor Cuomo. 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. Todays actions do just that.
Benjamin M. Lawsky, Superintendent of Financial Services, said, The performance of insurance companies after a storm like Sandy is incredibly important. Homeowners and businesses have the right to know how their insurers are performing and how quickly the companies are handling claims.
Governor Cuomo also announced today that, at his direction, DFS Superintendent Benjamin M. Lawsky will 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 December 15.
This executive order and moratorium applies to residents and business owners in Bronx, Kings, Nassau New York, Orange, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester counties.
The Governors order also extends the time the Superintendent may deny applications by licensed mortgage bankers or registered mortgage brokers to open branch offices and temporarily suspends a requirement involving community development investments.
Launches Online Report Card System of Insurance Companies
At the Governors direction, DFS Superintendent Lawsky launched an online report card system concerning insurance companies who are operating in the areas that were affected by Hurricane Sandy. This action will hold insurance companies accountable to consumers and allow New Yorkers to see the performance of their insurance company compared to other companies. The report cards will be published on the DFS website and will be frequently updated. They will be available today at www.NYInsure.ny.gov.
Among other criteria, insurance companies will be graded on:
- Number of claims and dollar amount 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
DFS will be publishing report cards on the following companies:
- Liberty Mutual
- FM Global
- State Farm
- Utica National
- Narraganset Bay Insurance Company
- New York Central Mutual
- Amtrust Financial
- Adirondack Insurance Exchange
New Regulation to Speed Up Timeframe for Claim Investigation
The new regulation issued by Governor Cuomo will shorten the timeframe in which insurers must send an adjuster to inspect a claim. This action will help insurance companies process the claims faster and pay out claims to consumers sooner. Starting today, the new regulation will require insurance companies to start investigating claims in six business days after the claim is made to the insurer, rather than 15 business days under current rules. The new rule applies to Storm Sandy. In addition, the regulation makes clear that to protect health and safety, other than for policies issued under the national flood insurance program, claimants can commence immediate repairs to heating systems, hot water systems, and necessary electrical connections, as well as exterior windows, exterior doors, and, for minor permanent repairs, exterior walls, in order to enable properties to retain heat.
Executive Order To Expedite Claims
The Governors executive order will authorize qualified, out-of-state public adjusters, whose job is to advocate on behalf of homeowners, to obtain temporary licenses to work in the state. Currently there are more than 16,800 out-of-state adjusters who have received temporary licenses to work on behalf of insurance companies, which more than doubles the amount of adjusters working for insurers in New York State. DFS has been allowing more insurance adjusters to operate in the state so that insurance companies will be able to assess and pay out claims in a more timely manner and help New Yorkers affected by Hurricane Sandy rebuild.
The new order will allow the licensing of temporary public adjusters, who work on behalf of a policyholder to negotiate a claims settlement on the consumers behalf.
To qualify, out-of-state public adjusters must:
- Apply for a temporary license with DFS
- Have a valid insurance license that has not been revoked in the last 10 years
- Have not been convicted of or plead guilty to any crime in the U.S. in the last 10 years
- Have not been accused of fraud or unethical conduct in the U.S. in the last 10 years
Below is the complete Executive order:
WHEREAS, on October 26, 2012, I issued Executive Order Number 47, declaring a disaster emergency in all 62 counties in the State of New York; and
WHEREAS, on October 30, 2012, the President issued a major disaster declaration for the counties of Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Queens, Richmond and Suffolk, on November 2, 2012, extended such declaration to include the counties of Rockland and Westchester and thereafter extended such declaration to include Orange County; and
WHEREAS, Hurricane Sandy brought damaging winds and torrential rainfall causing record flooding and severe storm surges throughout the State of New York that severely devastated the State; and
WHEREAS, the storm caused widespread damage to property throughout the affected counties, creating a substantial need for insurance adjusters to view and assess such damage to ensure that consumers property/casualty insurance claims are timely processed;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, ANDREW M. CUOMO, Governor of the State of New York, by virtue of the authority vested in me by Section 29-a of Article 2-B of the Executive Law to temporarily suspend or modify specific provisions of any statute, local law, ordinance, orders, rules or regulations, or parts thereof, of any agency during a State disaster emergency, if compliance with such provisions would prevent, hinder or delay action necessary to cope with the disaster, hereby temporarily suspend and modify, as the case may be, for the period from the date of this Executive Order until further notice, the following:
Section 2108 of the Insurance Law, along with any associated regulations, to the extent that they require permanent licensing of public adjusters by the Department of Financial Services (the Department) so that, for the purposes of this Executive Order only, the Department may issue temporary public adjuster licenses that authorize such temporary licensees to adjust property/casualty insurance claims in the counties of Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Orange, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester that are commenced during the period for which this Executive Order is effective, as long as: (1) an application for a temporary license pursuant to this order is made on a form prescribed by the Superintendent of Financial Services; (2) such form is signed by a public adjuster who is licensed in this State pursuant to Section 2108 of the Insurance Law; whose license is in good standing; and who will be responsible for both the supervising of the temporary licensee either in an employer/employee relationship or other arrangement whereby the licensed public adjuster has control over the temporary licensee and the satisfactory completion of all adjustment undertaken by the temporary licensee; (3) the temporary licensee has not had an insurance license revoked, suspended or otherwise terminated for cause in any state in the United States in the last ten years; (4) the temporary licensee has not been charged with, been convicted of, or pleaded guilty to or nolo contendere with respect to a crime or misdemeanor in any state in the United States in the last ten years; (5) the temporary licensee has not been found liable for misrepresentation, fraud, or unethical conduct in any state in the United States in the last ten years; and (6) the temporary licensee is presently licensed in another state as a public or independent adjuster to adjust property/casualty insurance claims; or has 5 years prior experience within the last ten years as a public or independent adjuster adjusting property/casualty insurance claims in the United States; or has been licensed as a public or independent adjuster in New York State within the last 5 years.
G I V E N under my hand and the Privy Seal of the State in the City of Albany this twenty-ninth day of November in the year two thousand twelve.
BY THE GOVERNOR
Secretary to the Governor