NY1 For You sat down with Benjamin Lawsky, the Superintendent of Financial Services for New York State to discuss how well insurance companies are responding to those affected by Hurricane Sandy. NY1's Susan Jhun filed the following report.
The New York State Department of Financial Services, in charge of regulating insurance companies, has received more than 2,000 complaints from property owners dealing with complicated policies, which often result in delays to critical repairs.
"The initial set of complaints we got were, it was just taking adjusters too long to come out and inspect the damage people had," said Benjamin Lawsky, the Superintendent of Financial Services for New York State. "Part of that was just such widespread damage. It was a massive undertaking. We've had 400,00 claims thus far, so it's a lot of claims for billions of dollars of damage."
Lawsky said the homeowners' insurance industry has paid out $1.8 billion so far in New York, and claims from flood insurance have resulted in $500 million in payouts. But he said there is still a lot more to shell out, and those suffering continue to deal with red tape.
In response, Governor Andrew Cuomo passed an emergency regulation, changing the number of days insurance companies have to respond to claims from 15 days to six days.
So what if a company fails to send out an adjuster to your home within that time?
"We can penalize the insurance company, significantly sometimes, and in certain cases, where we see repeated cases of violations, we can take even stronger actions against them," Lawsky said. "What we found is that most insurance companies realize that this is exactly why people have insurance. You have insurance, you pay that premium year after year, month after month for when a disaster does occur."
The Department of Financial Services also has report cards for individual insurance companies where consumers can see how they're performing.
For more information on this and other services, you can call their 24 hour hotline at 1-800-339-1759, or log on to www.dfs.ny.gov.