New York State
Insurance Department

 DEPARTMENT OPENS PERMANENT OFFICE ON LONG ISLAND;

Announces Results of Market Conduct Investigations of Homeowners Insurers


New York, October 20, 1997

In an effort to better serve Long Island residents, Governor George E. Pataki, U.S. Senator Alfonse D’Amato and Superintendent of Insurance Neil D. Levin today announced the opening of the New York State Insurance Department’s new permanent office on Long Island located at 200 Old Country Road in Mineola.

The opening of this office is a continuation of the efforts begun last year by Governor Pataki, Senator D’Amato and the Insurance Department to protect the needs of Long Island homeowners by working to ensure the availability of homeowners insurance for coastal residents.

At that time, the Department outlined a series of steps, including the initiation of market conduct investigations of homeowners insurers to review their underwriting and claims practices. The Department has determined that some companies were improperly canceling and non-renewing coverage for homeowners in coastal communities and has forced these insurers to stop such practices.

In addition to being the headquarters for this on-going effort, the Mineola office will also be the Department’s command center for its insurance fraud fighting efforts on Long Island, as well as handle consumer complaints.

"It is critical that consumers who are having difficulty finding affordable homeowners insurance have someplace to turn for help," Governor Pataki said. "The Department’s new office will be a valuable resource in assisting Long Islanders and will also be the centerpiece of our insurance fraud fighting activities. About one-third of all reports of suspected insurance fraud comes from Long Island. I have directed the Department to aggressively pursue these cases because insurance fraud raises the cost of insurance for all New Yorkers. The opening of this office is another example of my administration working for the people of Long Island."

"I want to commend the efforts of Governor Pataki and Superintendent Levin who believe as strongly as I do that homeowners insurance must be available and affordable for all New Yorkers," said Senator D’Amato. "These market conduct investigations have determined that some insurance companies have been acting improperly in coastal communities. We have halted these practices and will remain vigilant in protecting our citizens. I encourage all Long Island residents to contact the Insurance Department’s new Mineola office if they are having any insurance problems."

"This Department is committed to quality service for consumers, tough fraud fighting initiatives as well as ensuring that homeowners insurance is available to all residents," said Superintendent Levin. "Our new permanent location will better serve our Long Island constituents in all these areas. The Department has offices in New York City, Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Oneonta and now, Mineola. We intend to continue to work closely with the Governor and Senator D’Amato to assist and protect New Yorkers."

"Congratulations are in order to Governor Pataki and Superintendent Levin in bringing state government closer to the people of Nassau County," stated Nassau County Legislature Presiding Officer Bruce A. Blakeman (R-Woodmere, 7th L.D.).

The officials also announced the results of Insurance Department market conduct investigations into the practices of insurance companies that write homeowners insurance in coastal communities. The investigations determined that some insurers were using credit reports improperly in coastal communities to cancel and non-renew homeowners coverage, while others were, through other measures, inappropriately non-renewing coverage. The Insurance Department has made these companies, Hartford, Allstate, Metropolitan, Preferred Mutual, Aetna Casualty and Surety, Tri-State, Prudential and Worcester halt these practices.

In addition, the Department announced that it had reached agreements with three major insurance companies over the past year for those insurers to increase their writings on Long Island. Allstate, CIGNA and Travelers have all agreed to write more policies on Long Island. Allstate has committed to selling 12,000 additional policies on the Island, while CIGNA has committed to 13,000 new policies and Travelers 3,000 additional policies.

The Department’s Mineola office will be staffed by nine frauds investigators and two consumer services examiners and will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. The central location of the Department’s new office will allow frauds investigators to continue to work closely with Nassau County District Attorney Denis Dillon and Suffolk County District Attorney James Catterson on prosecuting insurance fraud. So far in 1997, there have been 5,315 reported cases of suspected insurance fraud on Long Island, resulting in 55 arrests and $179,588 in civil fines.

Major investigations included the case of eleven public and private construction projects defrauded by a bogus company selling worthless construction surety bonds, Long Island’s first prosecution by a District Attorney of a workers compensation fraud under Governor Pataki’s new initiative against workers compensation fraud and a Nassau County insurance fraud sweep which resulted in six arrests on various felony insurance fraud charges.

Those wishing to report a case of suspected insurance fraud should call:

516-248-5870

or

1-888 FRAUD NY

 Those wishing to make a complaint against an insurance company, agent or broker should call:

 516-248-5886

 Consumers or agents and brokers with coastal homeowners insurance inquiries should call:

 For Consumers 1-800-300-4593

For Agents and Brokers 1-800-300-4576


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