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Press Release

December 09, 2014

Contact: Matt Anderson, 212-709-1691

GOVERNOR CUOMO DEPLOYING DEPARTMENT OF FINANCIAL SERVICES’ MOBILE COMMAND CENTER TO HELP WESTERN NEW YORKERS WITH STORM-RELATED INSURANCE ISSUES

Assistance Available at Sites in Buffalo, Depew and Lackawanna

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that he is deploying the Department of Financial Services’ Mobile Command Center to Western New York December 11-13 to help property owners with insurance questions related to snow and water damage caused by last month’s historic snow storms.

DFS representatives will be available to meet with homeowners, renters and business owners at these locations:

  • Thursday, Dec. 11 – Tosh Collins Community Center, 212 Cazenovia St., Buffalo.
  • Friday, Dec. 12 – Depew Village Hall, 85 Manitou St., Depew.
  • Saturday, Dec. 13 – Lackawanna Senior Center, 230 Martin Rd., Lackawanna.

The sites will be staffed each day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“These specialists will provide on-the-ground, one-on-one assistance to Western New Yorkers who suffered property damage in last month’s snow storms,” Governor Cuomo said. “I encourage anyone with questions about their insurance coverage to stop by one of these mobile command centers and get the facts.”

Benjamin M. Lawsky, Superintendent of Financial Services, said, “Navigating insurance issues in the wake of a devastating storm can often be extremely daunting, but there is assistance available. Trained staff from our Department will be on site to help answer questions consumers have about their coverage and, in certain cases, may be able to help them resolve issues with their insurer that they are otherwise unable to resolve themselves.”

Getting additional help

In addition to the deployment of DFS staff to Western New York, assistance can be obtained by calling the Department’s toll-free hotline, 1-800-342-3736. The hotline is staffed from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Extensive insurance-related information is available on the Department’s website, www.dfs.ny.gov. Property owners may also use the website to file complaints if they believe they have been treated unfairly by insurers.

Are damages to homes covered?

Most standard homeowners’ policies insure losses to a home damaged by wind, wind-driven rain, trees or other falling objects, or the collapse of a structure due to the weight of snow or ice.

What damages may not be covered?

Damage to the inside of a home caused by melting snow is generally not covered unless it entered through an opening in the structure caused by wind.

The repair of pipes frozen as a result of extreme cold temperatures may not be covered if damage is due to negligence, such as failing to maintain an adequate temperature in one’s house.

Many policies do not cover expenses associated with food spoilage caused by an off-premises power outage and water damage resulting from drain or sewer back-ups.

What about flooding?

Protection for flood-related losses is typically only covered when the property owner has purchased a separate flood insurance policy. Most homeowners’ policies specifically exclude losses caused by flooding. This would include flooding from surface water caused by melting snow.

What about damage to property occupied by a renter?

People occupying apartments or other kinds of rental properties may be protected from certain storm losses if they have purchased a renters’ insurance policy. Renters’ policies typically insure personal property lost as the result of damage caused to a structure. Some of these policies may also provide renters with reimbursement for living expenses if they need to live elsewhere while a rental unit is being repaired due to a covered loss.

What information is needed after a snow-related automobile accident?

Drivers should obtain the names, addresses, telephone numbers and license numbers of all persons involved in and all witnesses of the accident. They should record information such as the time, date and location of the accident, as well as road conditions, the make and year of the vehicles involved and the other driver’s insurance information. Automobile owners should gather the same information when cars are damaged while parked.

What is covered under typical business policies?

Most large businesses, as well as many small businesses, buy business interruption/continuation coverage to help get through a situation like the aftermath of a major storm.

Business interruption/continuation policies cover lost earnings when a business is forced to shut down operations for an extended time due to a covered loss. These policies usually cover expenses like payrolls and utility bills. They may also pay for extra expenses incurred to keep a business running following a major storm.

How quickly should claims be filed?

Insured individuals and business owners should contact their insurance agent, broker or company as quickly as possible after a loss. They should provide their insurer with all of the information necessary to process claims and should remember to carefully document all communications with their insurer. That includes keeping notes on the time and date of all calls or meetings, as well as recording information about what was discussed.

Senator Tim Kennedy said, “If we are going to truly recover, we have to be sure that Western New Yorkers are receiving the assistance they deserve. That is why it is so important to bring in experts from DFS to help homeowners dot the i’s and cross the t’s in their insurance paperwork. We don’t yet know the final damage toll of this storm, but with help from DFS, homeowners can be confident that they have filed all of the necessary paperwork. I'd like to thank Governor Cuomo and Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky for their swift response to residents in need during and after the storm.”

Senator Patrick M. Gallivan said, "The impact of last month's record breaking snowfall is still being measured. Homeowners, business owners and others who suffered loses should not hesitate to contact the Department of Financial Services if they have questions about insurance coverage or are experiencing difficulty in filing a claim."

Assembly Member Michael Kearns said, “There are many insurance questions that need to be answered with a storm of this magnitude. The Department of Financial Services can assist individuals with common insurance questions and provide help in reporting a claim to your insurance carrier.”

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, “Area homeowners with insurance questions or other storm-related issues should take advantage of the opportunity the Mobile Command center presents, as it comes right into their neighborhoods with a staff that is ready to assist. Many of the hardest-hit areas of our community will be visited by DFS personnel, so I encourage residents to get the help they need and I thank Governor Cuomo for deploying the MCC in Erie County.”

Village of Depew Mayor Steven P. Hoffman said, "I encourage all affected homeowners and businessmen to take advantage of this program as you will be able to get valuable first hand information regarding claims."

Lackawanna Mayor Geoffrey M. Szymanski said, “I strongly recommend any individuals who had property damages as a result of the storm to take advantage of this very important resource.”

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Additional news available at www.governor.ny.gov
New York State | Executive Chamber | press.office@exec.ny.gov | 518.474.8418

 

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